The Garden Museum is open! BOOK YOUR VISIT

Home » Sowing Roots: Caribbean Garden Heritage in South London

Sowing Roots: Caribbean Garden Heritage in South London

The Garden Museum is embarking on a first of its kind journey into the history of the gardening cultures and traditions that Caribbean people carried with them when they moved to the UK after World War II: from breadfruit, provision grounds, and botanical gardens, to chocho, ackee and the green spaces of South London.

How did the horticultural knowledge and traditions of the Windrush generation shape their experiences of migration and community building in the UK? What plants and foods did Caribbean migrants grow – and where? How do their stories enrich our understanding of the power and joy of gardening?

After a year’s delay owing to the pandemic, ten young students are recording the garden journeys of ten South London horticulturists who were born in the Caribbean, and came here as part of the Windrush generation. These stories will be shared through photography, interviews, the loan of treasured artefacts, and the gift of favourite plants, forming the basis of a free exhibition opening on 15th November 2021, an events programme, and an inaugural archive of Caribbean gardening heritage at the Garden Museum.

Young people aged 15-21 will be trained in developing and conducting oral history interviews; introduced to the main topics in Caribbean horticultural history; and gain experience in the curatorial practices related to histories of colonialism and Black history.

Through connecting the personal stories of Caribbean gardeners in South London to a longer history of Caribbean gardening, the project seeks to deepen our understanding of gardening as a complex – and often contradictory – cultural practice that has shaped families, communities and Empire across time.

Sowing Roots interview participants

Sowing Roots is being led by researchers Dr Ekua McMorris and Dr Elizabeth Cooper, in collaboration with the Garden Museum Head of Learning Janine Nelson and oral historian Jen Kavanagh.

This project is made possible thanks to a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund awarded to the Garden Museum in 2019. After being postponed in last year due to the pandemic, we are delighted to be opening the exhibition in November 2021.

Want to hear more about the project? Sign up to our Sowing Roots mailing list for updates.


Find out more