The Garden Museum

A community project highlighting the environmental impact of cut flowers
The Garden Museum’s Floriculture: flower, love and money exhibition (14 February – 28 April 2013) explored the history of the flower trade and drew attention to current concerns about the environmental and social impact of the international trade in cut flowers, and allegations of the exploitation of vulnerable workforces.  

The exhibition looked at both sides of the debate, including the new movement for Fair Trade flowers. It also celebrated domestic growers, an industry that has all but vanished but may be revived by a new generation of eco-aware growers.

A long-term element of the exhibition was a winter cutting garden sown with native plants, hops, wild clematis and catkins at the Garden Museum. Flowers for Love and Money was managed in partnership with community groups and funded by the Happy Museum Project.

Gardeners and volunteers from schools and local groups were taught how to grow flowers and foliage that survive the English winter and challenge expectations of a traditional “bouquet”.

The project aimed to be environmentally, economically and socially sustainable, and to increase biodiversity.

Flowers and foliage from the garden were grown and sold to exhibition visitors as an alternative to unsustainable foreign flowers. Community groups involved in the garden were also able to sell flowers in their own venues.

All the proceeds from sales were invested back into the project.

One of the aims of the project was to spread flowers and cutting gardens across London, changing the urban landscape and increasing engagement with the city.

Seed mixes were available so people could grow their own seasonal flowers. A QR code on the seed packet linked back to a page on the museum’s website, which included a map highlighting sites across London that are available for cultivating, so that visitors could see where gardens can be planted.

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