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Geffrye Museum An open garden in London

136 Kingsland Road



E2 8EA

United Kingdom

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Latest photos of Geffrye Museum

  • Geffrye Museum
    By Kasy
  • Paeonia mascula (Paeonia mascula (Balkan Peony))
    By Kasy
  • Herb Garden
    By Okasia
  • Sweet Pea
    By Horner


Reviews and comments on Geffrye Museum


I like to think of the Geffrye Museum as a little garden that happens to have a little museum attached. It is the small, formal herb garden that attracts me. It reminds me of the kitchen garden on my childhood farm.

Now, do not expect something extraordinary. If it was, then there would be far too many visitors. The Geffrye is another of the secret little oases that I know to be dotted around London. They are the type of thing to take an aged aunt to visit. The right mix of activity and place to rest, relax, chat and catch up with each other.

The walled herb garden is on the grounds of an alms house. You can imagine the residents tending it and using the herbs in cooking. There are more than 170 different herbs arranged in 12 beds. There are beds for cosmetic, medicinal, culinary, household, aromatic and dye plants. The herbs are informally grouped and well labelled. While I was visiting, a mother was translating the names into Dutch for her five year old daughter. The beds are intersected by geometric paths and there is a fountain in the centre. Take your aunt for a seat on one of the three arbours beneath climbing plants and roses.
Leading out of the walled herb garden is the 17th century planting. The alms house gardens are functional in nature. The 17th century planting is based on a medieval pattern. The plants provide medicinal, culinary and household uses.
Thereafter, comes the 18th century planting. You can see the prevailing taste was for simplicity and tidiness of the times. Many ornamental gardens included paved paths, geometric beds with box edging and the use of evergreen shrubs. The box and evergreen shrubs are neat and tidy, clipped and distinct from one another. These gardens were often an extension of the house and a place for children to play. The Geffrye is a contained and quiet place to take a small child, who is allowed to wander around while you and the aunt chat.

Following the geometric medieval planting is the 19th century planting. Victorians were collectors. Collecting and displaying plants was evidence of affluence. Gardens became more formal. Plantings had scallop-edged beds. Heating a conservatory was now possible. Greenhouses became affordable and popular and supported raising exotic plants.

Last is the 20th century planting. The Edwardians preferred informal styles, rejecting the rigidity of the Victorians. Gardens focused on old-fashioned flowers. Cottage gardens appeared with a return to medieval plants and their purposes.

Finish your visit with a cake in the tea room for the good little child that played patiently while you and your aunt had a chat. After all, the tea room offers one last glimpse of the garden from the window. Maybe, if time permits and your aunt’s energy is up to it, you can visit the museum.

14 Aug, 2007

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  • Gardening with friends since
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