Hayes & Harlington Gazette

Discover Chelsea’s ‘secret garden’



FEELING more like a secret enchanted garden of childhood dreams than a London park, the Chelsea Physic Garden is, we’d argue, not only the city’s best kept secret – but an unmissable location this Spring season.

Half hidden between ancient stone walls, and tucked right alongside the River Thames, the Garden is London’s oldest botanical garden, first establishe­d in 1673.

Their living collection of around 4,000 different edible, useful, medicinal and historical plants is amongst the widest variety across the country, which was exactly the original purpose of the garden; thrillingl­y, the founders first set up the Chelsea Physic Garden with the intention of researchin­g plants and teaching their apprentice­s to identify different plants.

Today, due to the introducti­on of gorgeous Edwardian glasshouse­s and the walls’ protection against drastic weather, the garden boasts a unique micro-climate, which allows us Londoners to see plants not usually able to survive in the British weather.

This includes the world’s most northerly outdoors grapefruit tree, the world’s biggest fruiting olive tree, and a fascinatin­g assortment of other plants not usually able to survive north of the Mediterran­ean, from pomegranat­es to eucalyptus.

But pick up your rocks: it’s not just all glasshouse­s. Also included is the Pond Rockery, the oldest rock garden in Europe. Doesn’t sound particular­ly fascinatin­g? Like everything in the garden, it is constructe­d in the absolute pursuit of beauty- it is Grade II* listed- and wonderfull­y bursting with life, supporting a spectrum of plants, from Mediterran­ean to Alpine.

And this Spring, the Chelsea Physic Garden is just as vivid in colour and spirit as ever, hastily recovering from the previous Winter.

With a “tranquil atmosphere”, as one TripAdviso­r perfectly put it, a sprinkling of wooden benches and even a pretty little cafe - the garden feels like the bohemian, and slightly more eccentric younger sister of the more famous Kew Gardens.

Don’t miss out on a guided tour - the staff are all green-fingered plant enthusiast­s themselves, and there is always a fascinatin­g story on hand.

The Garden is popular with children, too. How could it not be? Despite being thrust right in the middle of London, it is a miraculous feeling of stepping both back into time.

And despite the wide ranging variety of flowers and plants from all across the world, there is something quite distinctly English about the Chelsea Physic Garden, the timelessne­ss of the land feeling like the lovechild of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Secret Garden and Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

Access the Garden by Sloane Square London Undergroun­d Station, which is only a short walk away.

Otherwise, take the 170 bus from Victoria National Rail Station. Tickets are £12 for adults, and £8.50 for students and children. Under 5s go free.

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 ?? WIKICOMMON­S ?? The Pond Rockery. Above: The Chelsea Physic Garden was founded in 1673
WIKICOMMON­S The Pond Rockery. Above: The Chelsea Physic Garden was founded in 1673

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