PHYLLIS ODESSEY

Purple Sidewalks




The Garden Museum in Lambeth is full of surprises.

Housed in St. Mary-at-Lambeth Church, the museum preserves the interior of the original with the addition of an architectural “insert” designed in 2007, which provides the structure for the museum. In order to enter the museum, you walk through “The Wild Garden” created in 2007. This garden was originally the graveyard associated with the Church. Unlike everything we love about English gardens, this garden is really wild and tries to promote the new natural style or no style. The garden is a combination of perennials, grasses and bulbs surrounded by the odd burial vault. It presents itself as unkempt and unfettered.

The Knot Garden is entered by walking through the museum, by the potting shed and past the theatrical tableau (see photo above) of small primroses. 17th century or knot, the garden is wonderful. Coincidentally the tomb of John Tradescants, one of the early British plant hunters, was rediscovered when the church became a museum. I believe John T. would be proud – the garden is a plant hunters paradise. Its full of old style plants and peonies you don’t see much anymore. It’s a good reminder that the new hybrids are great – disease resistant, bigger, flasher, but perhaps not better. The 17th century style tulips, including ‘Val Tol’ were just over; Rosa x alba ‘Maxima’ was blooming by columns Myrtus communis; big balloons of Rosmarinus officinalis decorated the borders; a good cup of tea is available in the little cafe. Who wanted to leave?

Worth a detour —— walking to the museum you pass the purple sidewalks of Lambeth.

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