Home » December Focus : Citrus » Citrus in The Garden Museum’s Collection

Citrus in The Garden Museum’s Collection

The Garden Museum's collection contains a variety of items related to citrus. We had a delve into our collection and archive to see what we could share with you.

From orangeries to a real life lemon tree, photographs and 18th century sketches there’s much to explore.

However, we didn’t find as many items of botanical art as we’d hoped for – if you have any satsumas, oranges, lemons or limes in your fruit bowl this winter, perhaps you could try drawing or painting them to create your own botanical art?

The Orangerie

An orangery or orangerie was a room or a dedicated building in the grounds of fashionable residences from the 17th to the 19th centuries where orange and other fruit trees were protected during the winter, as a very large form of greenhouse or conservatory.

We have our own small orangerie at the Museum – the passage that links the Museum’s shop to the café, which overlooks the Sackler Garden. We keep our lemon trees in there in the colder months.

Garden Museum Lemon tree
Close up of tree, the lemons are just starting to yellow (they currently look like limes)
Lemon blossom with Tradescant tomb in The Sackler Garden behind

Explore the gallery below to find images of orangeries held in the Garden Museum's collection.

Joy Larkcom Archive

Joy Larkcom is one of the world’s leading experts in the field of vegetable growing, with a particular interest in intensive and organic cultivation methods; in unusual vegetables, especially salad and oriental vegetables; and the concept of the potager or decorative kitchen garden. She is an author, gardener, and well-known horticultural journalist, lecturer, and radio and television broadcaster.

In her archive, which is now held at the Museum, we found a number of photographs relating to citrus. From 1976 to 1977, Joy undertook a year-long caravan trip she called the ‘Grand Vegetable Tour’ around Europe with her husband, Don, and two young children, Kirsten and Brendan. The purpose of the trip was to study vegetable growing and to collect seed of old varieties to send back to the Gene Bank. This archive contains preparation materials, research, diaries, photographic material, and articles which were written based on her findings during the ‘Grand Vegetable Tour’.

All images below from the Joy Larkcom Archive.

Orange Orchards in Algarve, Portugal
7 February 1977
Orange orchards in Algarve, Portugal, planted with naturalised invasive Oxalix pes caprae.

Portugal: Orange Orchards in Algarve, 1977

Portugal: Potted Lemon Tree
8 December 1976
A four year old potted lemon tree at Dr Silva’s Fruit Farm in Vila Fria, Portugal.

Portugal: Potted Lemon Tree, 1976

Portugal: Protection for Clementine trees
c. January 1977
A protective device for young clementine trees made of rice straw in Portugal. Eucalyptus trees are planted along the edges as windbreakers.

Portugal: Protection for Clementine trees, 1976


John Gerard c. 1545–1612 was English botanist with a large herbal garden in London. He was the author of a 1,484-page illustrated Herball, or Generall Historie of Plantes, first published in 1597. It became the most prevalent botany book in English in the 17th century. We have a facsimile copy in The Garden Museum, which contains these images.

Limon tree from Gerard’s Herbal
Orange tree from Gerard’s Herbal

Ellen Willmott (1858-1934) was a plant grower who was passionate about plants. She grew more than 100,000 different species of plants and organised plant hunting expeditions to discover new plants. She designed and created gardens in France, Italy and Britain. She won a Victoria Medal of Honour. As a child she’d had painting lessons. She painted the tile with the orange tree and parrots. The tile is in the museum collection on the front of a jardinière (a plant container).

Tile 1880 Painted by Ellen Willmott Designed by Walter Crane & Kate GreenawayImages collated by Janine Nelson, Head of Learning and Philip Norman, Garden Museum Volunteer.