India Landscape installed on the west lawn of the forecourt of the British Museum, Courtesy RBG Kew.
RBG Kew designer Steve Ruddy, Courtesy RGB Kew.
Chilli plant, Courtesy RBG Kew.
RBG Kew designer Richard Wilford, Courtesy RGB Kew.
The British Museum
Great Russell Street
+44 (0)20 7323 8000
British Museum forecourt
May 2-September 27, 2009
India Landscape features a selection of plants from the Indian subcontinent, displaying a range of colours and scents indigenous to South Asia.
The exhibition is the result of a partnership between the British Museum and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and is the second of five gardens at the Museum during the cultural Olympiad, building up to the 2012 London Olympics.
The wide diversity of plants from India gave RBG Kew’s designers of the India Landscape, Steve Ruddy and Richard Wilford, a challenge to emulate in a space of just a few hundred square metres.The Indian subcontinent is a vast region with diverse populations, climatic zones and some of the world’s richest but endangered habitats.
This was achieved by presenting a cross-section of the immensely diverse habitats of India. The landscape takes visitors on a journey spanning the mountainous environment of the Himalayas, represented by a dramatic rock garden; through temperate woodland and ending with a sub-tropical zone centred on a pool filled with lotus flowers (Nelumbo). The Landscape will highlight the significance of plants use in Indian culture — as food, medicine and in trade — and the way plants such as chilli (native to South America) have travelled and become completely indigenised.
The landscape changes from the dramatic, rocky environment of the Himalayan mountains to the tropical lushness of southern India, through a temperate zone representing the plains. Star plants will highlight the links with objects in the British Museum’s collection and plants in the exhibition Garden and Cosmos. The landscape will also demonstrate the global ecological and economic importance of these plants and how they are connected with many aspects of traditional Indian culture.
India Landscape is part of Indian Summer, a season of exhibitions and events at the British Museum focusing on India.
Plants featured in India Landscape include:
• Sarcococca hookeriana, a small evergreen shrub named for Kew’s second director, Joseph Hooker, who visited the Sikkim Himalaya in the late 1840s, introducing many new species of Rhododendron to Kew Gardens and other British gardens;
• The banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis), planted in Indian villages as a traditional shade tree;
• The peepul tree (Ficus religiosa), sacred to both Buddhists and Hindus and planted widely in Asian gardens, around shrines and at places of pilgrimage;
• Holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) and marigolds (Tagetes patula), two plants widely cultivated in India and strongly associated with its religious culture and celebrations;
• The coconut palm (Cocos nucifera), mango (Mangifera indica) and the walnut tree (Juglans regia);
• The scholar tree (Alstonia scholaris), so named because its wood was used to make the ‘slates’ or writing boards for school pupils.
Rhododendron arboreum, Courtesy RBG, Kew.
Mangifera Indica, Courtesy RBG Kew.
Tiger-sized Bamboo, Courtesy RBG Kew.
Roxburghianae, Courtesy RBG Kew.