Horniman Museum and Gardens welcomed the community yesterday to mark the reopening of their gardens.
Originally opened in 1895, the re-imagined grounds seek to link the gardens closer to the collection indoors, in line with Frederick Horniman's vision that the gardens should complement the museum.
Medicinal, food, material and dye gardens nod to the anthropological, natural history and textile collections. These formal beds packed with different varieties will become increasingly interesting and attractive as they mature and grow and there's lots to learn here. Woad might be blue but what colour are the flowers that make it? Perhaps your kids don't know that olives come from trees or realise that their linen top originates in a flax plant. Can you grow echinacea?
A 'sound garden' reflects the Horniman's impressive musical instrument collection but its merits might well be outweighed by the din it creates depending on which kids are banging the drums or jangling the chimes at any given time.
The magnificent tree-filled parkland is still a glorious place to picnic and sunbathe and the completist explorer will be rewarded by finding the peaceful 'South Downs' area and its view, tucked away behind the main grounds. The new animal enclosure is ready to receive its new inhabitants, including alpaca, guinea pigs, goats and chickens later in the summer. And did you know about the Horniman nature trail? See if you can find it.
The spruced up bandstand hosted Gamelan players, African drummers and dancers from Nzinga Dance and the Southwark Concert Band yesterday afternoon, welcoming local people in with flair and fanfare, despite grey skies and the odd spot of rain. Let's hope the weather is much jollier for the Jubilee Concert on Monday 4 June between 2-4.30pm, showcasing music from across the 60 years of the Queen's reign.
Entrance to Horniman Museum and Gardens is free (there is a small charge for visiting the Aquarium). When you go to explore the gardens, don't forget to look round the latest exhibition, The Body Adorned: Dressing London. Read our review.