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17th Century period garden

17th century period garden at the Geffrye

17th century period garden - photography Sunniva Harte

The Geffrye is closed until spring 2020 for a transformational two-year development. Throughout closure we are running events in our front gardens and tours of the restored almshouse.

The gardens of town houses were generally modest and of a functional nature, based on medieval patterns, to provide plants of medicinal, culinary and household uses. Illustrations of town gardens from this period frequently show the garden adjacent to the house and enclosed by walls, hedging, fencing and/or painted rails. A wide variety of herbs, vegetables (known as pot herbs) and flowers were grown, probably in geometrical, raised beds surrounded by gravel. Small fruit trees, sometimes trained as espaliers on the sunny walls, and arbours covered with vines were common features.

Listen to our podcasts  Elizabethan Garden 1  Elizabethan Garden 2 

Key plants include:

Some important herbs for household, medical and culinary purposes

Bay, sweet (Laurus nobilis)
Camomile (Chamaemelum nobile)
Chicory (Cichorium intybus)
Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
Lovage (Levisticum officinale)
Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis)
Sorrel (Rumex acetosa)
Southernwood (Artemisia abrotanum)
Thyme, common (Thymus vulgaris)
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)

Shrubs and climbers

Hawthorn, common (Crataegus monogyna)
Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)
Ivy, common English (Hedera helix)
Pear (Pyrus communis ‘Jargonelle’)


Apothecary’s Rose (Rosa gallica var.officinalis)
Rosa ‘Alba Maxima’
Rosa Mundi (Rosa gallica var.officinalis ‘Versicolor’)

Other popular flowering plants

Borage (Borago officinalis)
Honesty (Lunaria annua)
Iris ‘Florentina’
Lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis)
Peony (Paeonia officinalis and paeonia mascula)
Periwinkle, greater (Vinca major)
Pink ‘Queen of Sheba’ and ‘Sops in Wine’ (Dianthus caryophyllus spp)
Pot marigold (Calendula officinalis)
Stock (Matthiola incana)
Sweet rocket (Hesperis matronalis)

Explore our 360 view of the 17th Century Garden or take the Virtual Tour of the Period Rooms and Gardens.