Design for Shute House by Geoffrey Jellicoe

Tom Stuart-Smith

Tom Stuart-Smith

Design for a London Courtyard by Tom Stuart-Smith

John Brookes

John Brookes

Design for a London roof garden by John Brookes, 1956

New Archive of Garden Design

At the core of the Garden Museum’s future development project will be an archive of garden design, concentrating on the key individual designers – and individual design masterpieces – of the twentieth and twenty-first century.

We are very conscious that an archive of garden design is not a new idea. It has never happened, however, because it is expensive, and because no institution has made it central to its purpose. However, it is more urgent than ever, as a great generation of designers and makers of gardens – and the photographers and writers who have interpreted their work – are in their 70s and 80s, and their drawings, photographs, and letters are at risk. At the same time this will be an archive which develops over the years with the addition of work by younger figures.

The Garden Museum will build space for storing, studying and displaying archives of designs, manuscripts and photographs, and begin a programme of commissions – including films – which will record the masterpieces of modern garden design preserving their spirit and inspiration for posterity. The first film, about the designer John Brookes, can now be seen online, and films about Penelope Hobhouse and Beth Chatto are nearly complete.

The Archive project is an attempt to answer questions such as:

  • How do we project to posterity the spirit of gardens which have influenced us?
  • How is the memory of a garden different to that of a building, or a sculpture?
  • How do we pick the right gardens and designers to record?
  • How do you record the design process to reflect its new professionalism?
  • What are the possibilities for digital access?

So far, the Garden Museum is delighted to have received the archive of the garden designer Penelope Hobhouse, amounting to some twenty boxes of client materials including plans and correspondence. Our designs for Shute House by Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe reveal a masterpiece of landscape architecture.  Janet Jack's plans for the listed housing estate landscape at Alexandra Road, Camden, explain the design process behind her ground-breaking gardens for residents; and the lecture notes of the architect Frederick Gibberd show us how he developed his own garden, told in his own words. The Museum also holds the business archive of William Wood & Son, revealing the story of one of the earliest landscape design practices, from 1850s coal merchants to their heyday in the 1990s. A later addition to the archive has been Dominic Coles’ designs for the landscape at the Eden Project.

The Museum continues to collect – the archive of one of Britain's most influential garden designers of the twentieth century, Beth Chatto, is shortly to arrive; as are the papers of Joy Larkcom, who introduced salad bags and oriental vegetables into our gardens and our supermarket trolleys.

If you'd like to donate to our project online please click here and then click the "one-off donation" tab on the page.

You can read the Telegraph's Amba Edwards's thoughts on our new archive here


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