In the heart of central London lies a hidden gem…
Chelsea Physic Garden is a botanists dream neatly tucked on the edge of the Thames in glamorous Chelsea. The oldest botanical garden in London boasts a unique living collection of around 5,000 different edible, useful, medicinal and historical plants. Three acres of tranquility hides behind a high wall, which encases the mild microclimate.
The Chelsea Physic Garden, founded in 1673 by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries was built with the purpose of training apprentices in identifying plants. The close proximity to the river was chosen as the location as it created a warmer microclimate allowing the survival of many non-native plants, and to allow plants to survive harsh British winters. In 1983 The Garden became a registered charity and open to the general public for the first time, and has now developed a major role in public education focusing on the renewed interest in natural medicine.
Walking around the garden I was impressed by the huge variety of different plants it holds (approximately 5000 taxa!) with gorgeous colours and smells…
Obviously no visit to a garden is complete without a cuppa and some cake. Thankfully, the garden hosts the Tangerine Dream Cafe, serving light lunches and delicious afternoon tea with a selection of homemade cakes. I opted for the beautifully moist citrus and almond cake with a nice dollop of creme fraiche.
After our little break we moved on to the newly opened (as of 1st April) Garden of Medicinal Plants showcasing an extended collection of medicinal plants, the use of which dates back thousands of years. The garden is split into regions of the world explaining the plants’ history and key medicinal uses.
The glasshouses hold a collection of tropical, sub-tropical and Mediterranean species from countries such as Madeira and the Canary Islands.
They also happen to be warm and cosy, which comes as quite a shock when you leave them back into English Spring weather!
I’m very glad I discovered Chelsea Physic Garden and I know I will be visiting again soon. It’s a beautiful, calm oasis in the hustle and bustle of London. A place where you can relaxation, educate yourself and support the work of botanists in natural medicine.
The Garden, Café and Shop are open between 1 April – 31 October 2014, Tuesdays – Fridays, Sundays & Bank Holidays.