Gardens and War

An exhibition exploring these two seemingly incompatible subjects opened on 24 September at the Garden Museum, London

The sailors' allotmentsCurated in partnership with the RHS, the Gardens and War exhibition starts by exploring the efforts of First World War troops to bring some beauty into their war-torn environment.

Using original correspondence and photographs on loan from the RHS, it tells the remarkable story of Ruhleben, an internment camp in Germany where, in the spring of 1916, the mostly British inmates began to grow plants to help beautify the camp. Eventually the ‘Ruhleben Horticultural Society’, an RHS Affiliated Society, was born.

The exhibition also looks at the untold story of the ‘trench gardens’ of flowers and vegetables grown on the Western Front, at the memorial parks and gardens created in response to the First World War, how the loss of male gardeners led to gardening becoming an accepted profession for women, and the development of their formal training.

Look out for an extraordinary collection of pressed flowers collected by Private George Marr, sent to fight as a machine gunner in the Greek campaign. The flowers were a reminder of home and were discovered in an old notebook following his death.

These moving stories are told through contemporary photographs, unique objects, postcards, letters and trench art. The exhibition also features an emotive installation of more than 2,000 pressed flowers by floral artist Rebecca Louise Law. A range of talks, workshops and family events has been arranged to coincide with the exhibition.

The exhibition runs until 19 December 2014 (not 5 January 2015 as previously advertised). RHS members visit free. Visit the Garden Museum website for full details of opening times, admission prices and related events.

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.