Garden Reviews

The following reviews were obtained from the Herb and Garden Guild Mailing List or directly from its members. To get add additional reviews added to this page, please post them to the Mailing List (if you are currently subscribed) otherwise contact the Guild Administrator. If you wrote a review and wish it anonymous or accredited, or even removed please contact the Guild Administrator and it will be updated, removed or replaced as soon as practicable.

Museum of Garden History, Lambeth, London

Review by Bea St. James

The Museum of Garden History is located in the old church of St Mary-at-Lambeth, which is snuggled next to Lambeth Palace across the Thames from Westminster. Inside the church are cases of old gardening implements which, because they were in glass cases, were difficult to photograph.

Outside in the old churchyard is a beautiful garden, featuring two wonderful tombs – that of William Bligh (of bread fruit and Mutiny on the Bounty fame) and also the Tradescants’ tomb (father and son Ð the wonderful sixteenth and seventeenth century gardeners) which is the one with all the skulls. Bligh’s tomb is the one with the urn on top.

Because the garden is in a churchyard some of the features are remarkable – paths made of broken tombstones, and those tombs still intact serve as good potting benches or stands for pots.

The King’s Garden, Melbourne

Review by Bea St. James

The botanic gardens are one of my favourite places in any city and I wandered around this site on this crisp sunny day and discovered areas I had missed before. Technically outside the gardens in an area known as the King’s Garden are two gems: a balustraded sunken garden with flat formal lawns framed by flower beds, and a T shaped pool and fountain reminiscent (to me) of the 1930 English murder mystery.

There is also a Grotto – it has very little water in it at this time but the stonework bridges, paths and walls are lovely, straight out of fairy tales (or rather live role playing). It has a cultural rather then taxonomic collection, and two divergent types of landscaped gardens.

The Tudor House, Southampton

Review by Marie de Lyon

For those fortunate people travelling to England, I would like to suggest the garden attached to the “Tudor house”, Southampton, Old Quarter, near the Roman boundary wall. It is walking distance from the Medieval Merchant’s House (a must-see house but no garden too speak of), and is one of very few urban middle class gardens available for investigation. It is a restoration/conservation work in progress and in Oct 2001, cost a gold coin donation (which in England is pretty good!!) and while small by the grand house/estate standards, is absolutely chock full of details.

The south view of the garden is completely enclosed by stone walls leading on from the house side walls to the back boundary. The only entry/exit point into the garden apart from the house is a stone arch way (blocked off) in the back corner which led to a Abbey (now sadly gone). Looking from back door looking across to the back boundary and archway shows the longest axis of the garden.

The garden has a semi-formal layout, with geometrical beds bordered with painted rail iron work, gravelled pathways with trellised arches, stone seats in trellised arbours, wooden seats brightly painted and whimsical statutes of mythological creatures brightly painted and often on the top of green and white (a la barber) poles. The plant emphasis appears to be on herbs, both medicinal and culinary (lavenders and parsley used to create a chequerboard effect in one bed), flowers, some trained fruit trees and seasonal vegetables, and plants for all year greenery

There are also working bee skeps, of the coiled type, and a raised stone fishpond. This is complete with fanciful statues in the centre, which is driven by natural springs and supplies the water for the garden, although not for the house. In the planning stages are a sundial, small run for domestic birds, and the completion of the changeover to the cultivars. This is indicated from archaeology of garden beds, contemporary notes and sketches from the house and known herbals.

This is not a working garden such as the walled kitchen garden for a great estate, or food garden for rural settings. It very much has the feel of an extra room where the bulk of food could be bought from a local market. It has a multi-function purpose providing some items for the kitchen and household such as flowers, herbs and honey, however, it is also intended as a place of gentle exercise, contemplation and of providing some social status. Well worth seeing and walking around (take a cushion for the stone seats!)