Mists and mellow fruitfulness: in praise of the Museum garden

Oct 16 2017 9:35 AM

Museum trustee and Interim Director, Clare Grist Taylor, sings the praises of the hidden gem that is the Museum’s garden.

London is full of hidden spaces and secret gardens. Often they stay hidden, keeping their secrets to themselves. But at this time of year, as their leaves turn colour and long-forgotten fruit trees come into harvest, their glory is betrayed.  Keats’s ‘mellow fruitfulness’ can be found in even the most unlikely places.

The Museum garden is no exception. Many visitors simply don’t realise we have a garden at all. But anyone who discovers it is in for a real treat. Nurtured by a loyal and talented team of volunteers, led by one of the Museum’s most committed supporters, Margaret Porter, the garden is a precious resource for our visitors and community alike.

First and foremost, it’s the perfect place for a family picnic, a great space for children to explore and learn about the plants we grow, poke around in the pond and simply let off some of their own steam.

It’s also a great place for quiet reflection and thought. I like to sit on its sunny bank and look over the site, dominated by the tower, contemplating the sheer energy and ingenuity of our Victorian forbears, and how the people who built and worked at the pumping station helped to make London the great city it is today.

I also recently discovered that the garden has a fruit crop all of its own. Thanks to its pear and apple trees, our volunteers have been getting some healthy fruit in their mess room and our café has on offer some wonderful home-made pear and ginger cake. Mellow fruitfulness indeed.

If anyone needed another reason to visit or re-visit the Museum, our garden is the perfect excuse.

I’ll see you there.

The Museum garden will be playing a starring role in our October half term SpOOkfest, when we hear tell that our very own witch will be taking up residence.