History, Hydras, and Gardening

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
― John Muir

I recently toured the Garden Museum, housed in a deconsecrated church that abuts Lambeth Palace (traditional home of the Archbishops  of Canterbury), for a post over on The Thrifty Homesteader. Head on over for more about the history of the church–lots of interesting dead people–but there were some extra shots I wanted to include since I found the space and the garden delightful. It’s perfectly appropriate to me to find a museum of gardening housed in a church in Britain!

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When I say abuts, I mean it!

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A casual walk by the crypts to the front door.

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With a cheerful greeting at the end!

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The cafe in one of the church aisle–which, architecturally speaking, is not the central passageway up the center of the structure. Tea beneath the memorials!

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Palm trees and cherubim, an atypical pairing.

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I mention this in the other post, but all the plants were labeled with the year of their first written description, and often a quote from a British writer or person of note.

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The real treat of the churchyard garden is the tomb of the Tradescant family, who were noted botanists and gardeners to the royal family. The family patriarch traveled widely to collect bulbs and seeds and his son continued the tradition in the New World. Both were early naturalists and predate Darwin by nearly 300 years, eventually they opened the family collection as the very first public museum in Britain. The sarcophagus is highly, highly unusual for the age when, in spite of the rise of science and humanism, death was still very much the realm of the spiritual and divine. And yet the symbolism of his tomb is not religious at all but shows the scope of his travels and scientific encounters, include ruins of the ancient world and exotic flora and fauna.The crocodile on the bottom left is fantastic!

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Another side of the tomb with a somewhat more typical death symbol of medieval and renaissance Europe…and a hydra. Which is only strange until you learn that hydras were often symbols of botany in that even if you trimmed or cut off heads, they grow back.

3 thoughts on “History, Hydras, and Gardening”

    1. Isn’t is fun? I’d only heard a very little about it so everything from the location to the history was a pleasant surprise when I visited.

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