Restoration of the Museum Garden commenced in 1981. At that time it was derelict after many years of neglect and Sylvia Standing was asked for advice on improving it so that it could be used by the public. In 1981 it consisted of a central area of weed-infested grass, surrounded by overgrown, inferior shrubs. One path of Council slabs led to what is now the Archive Store; a rotting summerhouse and conservatory were full of domestic rubbish; poor quality paving was covered with three foot high weeds; ground elder and bindweed were the only flowers.
Sylvia suggested that the garden could become a project for Horsham Museum Society and she submitted a plan to Horsham District Council. After this was approved, the archaeological section of the Museum Society helped to clear the garden, only the wisteria and chaenomeles being retained. Miss Hurst, whose family once owned the building, donated a seat.
Items from the Museum's collections displayed in the garden include two local milestones used as a seat, two parish boundary stones, a bronze by J G Millais, a lead pump, three stone sinks, two stone food preparation slabs, the plinth of the sundial and the cauldron. Stone pots and the sundial plate are modern.
The garden was designed and constructed by Sylvia Mary Standing. It was designed to provide three paved areas for groups of visitors and the paths give dry access to visitors and staff to outlying galleries and workshops. The central grass was replaced by a quartered herb garden which provides scented plants for the visually impaired.
After demolition of the conservatory – its glass was used to repair the war-damaged cathedral in the Falklands- the floor was rearranged and the door into the hall reinstated to provide wheelchair access to the garden. The paving is of local material: Horsham stone, from building sites and archaeological excavations in Horsham, Sussex marble, Roman mosaic, local bricks and Tudor iron slag.
For the first few years the garden was funded by the Horsham Museum Society and for several years it was supported by the sale of seeds and plants. A wall plaque to honour Sylvia Standing's long involvement with the Museum garden has been displayed since the end of 2003 when she was unable to continue the maintenance of the garden. From February 2004, the garden has been maintained by a team of volunteers and funded by the Museum.
Improvements to the garden are made annually with a new range of plants and blooms for the visitor to enjoy. The garden is a regular entrant in the Horsham in Bloom competition.
The Florilegium book is now available in the Museum shop as well as a selection of floral greetings cards. The Museum has plants for sale from around April onwards.