If you need a verdant setting where to relax and unwind while you’re still in the busy capital, just head to the Chelsea Physic Garden! This hidden gem may be surrounded by high buildings, it offers an interlude of serenity and evasion in the heart of London.
I had long wanted to explore this unique garden and took the opportunity during last Easter weekend. I guess the expected sunny weeks ahead of us will give you the perfect excuse to explore this place…
Today, DOYOUSPEAKLONDON invites you to discover the Chelsea Physic Garden!
Chelsea Physic Garden: London’s oldest botanic garden
The Chelsea Physic Garden was created in 1673 as the “Apothecaries’ Garden in London” to grow plants to be used as medicines, hence the term “Physic” in the name, referring to the medical purpose of the venue.
Located in Chelsea by the Thames, it covers four acres of land and contains a unique living collection of around 5,000 plants which have been divided into 6 areas in 2017:
– The Garden of Medicinal Plants,
– The Pharmaceutical Garden (with plants arranged according to the ailment they are used to treat)
– The Garden of World Medicine,
– The Garden of Edible and Useful Plants
– The World Woodland Garden
To put it in a nutshell, Chelsea Physic Garden is a celebration of the beauty and importance of plants in our lives!
A peaceful green oasis in London
I had previously presented the Barbican Conservatory, as a “hidden tropical oasis in the heart of London” and I guess The Chelsea Physic Garden is the second most beautiful oasis I’ve discovered in the heart of London.
Despite the cold weather and the fact that not all flowers, plants, and trees had yet fully bloomed, we really appreciated our stroll in this garden.
You do not need to be a “botanic savant” to enjoy the garden. I am not one and I found the signs and information provided there were sufficiently detailed to satisfy my curiosity.
However, if you are an expert in medicinal plants, you will certainly explore every nook and corner of the Garden with utmost pleasure!
If you want to take in the atmosphere peacefully, there are seats scattered in the garden, either in the sun or shade.
The greenhouses are closed at the moment due to Covid restrictions, but you can still peep inside and admire the variety of plants there.
This is quite impressive and unusual to be surrounded by high buildings in the city while once inside the garden we feel transported miles away to a peaceful expanse of green lawns, mature trees, and beautiful flowerbeds.
A wise location by the Thames
The Garden’s Thames location is no accident as we learn on the venue website: back in 1673, “the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries chose their Chelsea village site for its proximity to the river to make the most of its warm air currents. It also gave them a base to moor their barge, allowing them to conduct plant finding expeditions in surrounding areas and to teach their apprentices to identify plants, those that might cure and those that might kill!”
The garden’s international reputation “was established quickly as a result of the global seed exchange scheme, known as Index Seminum, which it initiated in the 1700s and continues to this day”.
A garden to visit throughout the seasons
Some seasons are of course more interesting than others and I highly recommend May to October if you want to enjoy the trees and flowers in full bloom.
The Chelsea Physic Garden organizes a large array of events, tours, and one-day workshops over the year if you want to get to know everything about the history of the place, the various plants, the medicine self-care basics, the art of beekeeping or composting…(all details are online)
2021: Year of Well-being!
This pandemic context may well have inspired The Chelsea Physic Garden this approach. As they state on their website:
our mission is to demonstrate the medicinal, economic, cultural and environmental importance of plants to the survival and well-being of humankind. This is why we are delighted to declare 2021 our Year of Well-being
Therefore, each month of 2021 will be devoted to a special behavior related to well-being (Take notice, Connect, Be active, Keep learning, Give) as defined by The New Economics Foundation in their report “Five Ways to Well-being” and will inspire specific events in the Garden.
As we visited the Garden at Easter we could witness several kids and families running around, having fun, and focusing on a trail or hunt and joy was palpable everywhere. The purpose of mixing generations and sharing happiness was at least successful that day…
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and found inspiration here. If you are planning to visit The Chelsea Physic Garden soon, please share your experience and opinion on DOYOUSPEAKLONDON’s blog!
To go further:
The Chelsea Physic Garden: 66 Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, London SW3 4HS
For safety reasons, there is an hourly limit on the number of visitors allowed in the Garden and all visitors need a valid prebooked ticket to enter the garden.