When staying in West London, you’ll be spoilt for choice for attractions. Whether on the lookout for museums, galleries and shopping, there’s almost too much choice. Once you’ve exhausted the bucket list tick offs, it might be time to explore off the beaten track. West London has an especially large number of green spaces, ranging from Green Park to the vast expanses of Regents Park. One area in West London which incorporates beautiful gardens with London history is the Physic Gardens in Chelsea. This historic botanic garden has a long history and is still open to the public today. Here’s everything you need to know about this Royal Hospital Road gem.
What are the Physic Gardens?
Located just a half hour walk or 20-minute tube journey from the Kensington branch of the Park Grand Hotel London, the Physic Garden overlooks the Chelsea Embankment on the River Thames. This much-loved botanical garden is home to many species of plants and gives adults and children alike an insight into medieval views on medicine and herbal healing. With over 4 acres of land, the garden is home to the oldest rock garden in the UK which is devoted to alpine plants.
The garden itself consists of pharmaceutical gardens, medicinal gardens, an edible and useful plant garden as well as a woodland area. With ponds and greenery abound, guests can visit the gardens between 11 am and 6 pm every day except for Saturdays.
History of the Physic Garden
Established by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries in 1670, the garden was used to research plants for medicinal and herbal use. With the adjoining manor changing hands through the centuries, from Sir John Danvers to Dr Hans Sloane, the garden retained its lease to the Apothecary Society for centuries. In 1983 it became a charity, and since then has been open to the public. Over the years, parts of the garden have been lost to building works and the expansion of the river banks, but the initial 4 acres is still open to the public.
Tours and workshops in the Physic Garden
The gardens play host to a range of talks and workshops on botanical plants, as well as unique historical focuses. Seasonal workshops focus on specific plants, whilst the garden is also a hotbed for educational research materials and tours.
Cafes, shops and points of interest
The Tangerine Dream café in the Physic Garden is famous for its delicately curated menu, bringing a range of curries, stews and pasta dishes to its relaxed restaurant floor. With a café serving snacks, cakes and hot drinks, Tangerine Dream is open till 3.30 pm on weekdays and 3 on weekends, serving up the best on the London café scene regardless of whether you are visiting the garden or not. With a bookshop selling everything a budding botanist could ask for, there’s plenty of reason to visit the Physic Gardens aside from the green Eden within its historic walls.
The garden itself is also home to the UK’s largest olive tree, heated by high brick walls and a unique section devoted to Grapefruit growing.