London gardens to remember

Sometimes a garden holds more than just beautiful trees and flowers. Some contain inspirational memorials to the lives of people who helped make the world a better place; the impact they had as beautiful as the plants that surround them. Here are a couple of our favourite memorials in London gardens to visit this Summer…

 

The first gardeners

The Garden Museum was set up in order to rescue the ancient church of St. Mary’s; the final resting place of John Tradescant and his son. They’re responsible for introducing many of the garden plants that we know and love today. So great is their work, that a genus of flowering plant – Tradescantia – is named in their honour.

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Throughout their lives, they undertook perilous journeys, amassing seeds, plants and other curiosities to enhance their patron’s gardens (the most famous patron being King Charles I). So astounding was their collection that eventually they opened their home and botanic garden to the public, in what became England’s first public museum.

Their magnificently carved tomb sits at the centre of a beautiful knot garden within The Garden Museum, planted with the same flowers that grew in their own London garden four centuries ago. From snowdrops and narcissus, to scillas and tulips, you can expect a colourful display all-year-round.

Nearest tube: Westminister, Waterloo or Vauxhall

Open: From 10.30 to 17:00, Sunday to Friday and 10:30 to 16:00 on Saturdays

 

A pioneer for women’s rights

Victoria Tower Gardens were made in the 1870s as part of Joseph Bazalgette’s creation of a new London sewer system. A tranquil stretch of green, lined with low-hanging trees, follows the Thames, offering an impressive view of the Palace of Westminster.

Standing at the entrance to this serene haven, is an imposing bronze memorial to the leader of the British suffragette movement, Emmeline Pankhurst. Opposed by men (and even some women) Pankhurst played a fundamental role in helping women win the right to vote.pankhurstmonumentSadly, she died two weeks before the government extended the vote to all women over 21 years old. She was later honoured with this statue, built by Arthur George Walker in 1930. Today,    Pankhurst still stands proud, her right-hand forever indicating the way into the Parliament building behind her.

Nearest tube: Westminister

Open: From dawn to dusk, seven days a week

 

Extra-ordinary people

Near the site of the old General Post Office is the charming Postman’s Park. Once a popular retreat for postal workers, it’s now a small, secluded garden where gravel paths encircle precisely dug beds of bright flowers, radiating inwards to a beautifully crafted sundial.

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In one corner is The Watt’s Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice. It features around 50 hand-painted ceramic tiles, each detailing the untimely end of a person who died trying to save the life of another. There’s Thomas Simpson who, in 1885, “died of exhaustion after saving many lives from the breaking ice at Highgate ponds”. Or, William Donald who “drowned in the Lea trying to save a lad from a dangerous entanglement of weed”. Although short, each tile paints a vivid picture of these tragic events in a wonderfully poetic way; a lasting tribute to ordinary people who may otherwise have been forgotten.

Nearest tube: St Paul’s

Open: 7 days a week, 8am to 7pm, or dusk

 

There’s no better time to visit these inspirational London gardens. Get your friends involved by sharing on facebook, twitter or google+. Have you come across a wonderful memorial in a London garden? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Image Credit

Image 1: Garden Visit

Image 2: Britain Unlimited

Image 3: Postman Spark

Image 4: Ghost Signs

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