Luxury Travel Blog

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August 3, 2009

Secret London: Chelsea Physic Garden

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The Chelsea Physic Garden is one of our favorite places in London. Hidden behind high brick walls and largely unknown to many travelers, this three-and-a-half-acre garden is not just a beautiful and relaxing sanctuary. It’s also a fascinating window into the botanical world, international trade and London’s history.

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The garden was founded in 1673 by the Society of Apothecaries to train apprentices and medical students in botany and the identification of medicinal plants.

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The site’s unique microclimate–tempered by the nearby River Thames–allows a surprising range of plants to grow outdoors, even palm, olive and grapefruit trees.

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Another unusual feature of the garden is the Botanical Order Beds, which are laid out to illustrate the evolutionary relationships among the plants growing in them.

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The Chelsea Physic Garden is a great place for tea, lunch, or a leisurely stroll through the garden to see what’s flowering with the season, peer at the tropical plants inside the greenhouses, and relish the wafting scents of lemon verbena, lavender and roses.
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The interesting pharmaceutical garden features different plants that are used to treat heart trouble, skin problems, nervous disorders and other ailments.

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There’s also a small shop that sells interesting gardening books, utensils, seeds and materials related to the garden’s history.

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We always buy a jar of the garden’s much sought-after honey before it sells out. The garden’s beehives–stuffed with pollen from the diverse flora–produce a limited amount of the unique elixir, and it’s available only in the summer.
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The garden is located in one of our favorite sections of Chelsea, right on Cheyne Walk along the River Thames.

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From the garden, it’s just a short stroll through elegant residential streets to the King’s Road, Sloane Square, and major attractions such as the Victoria and Albert Museum.

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Destinations:  England, Europe

Tags:  botanical gardens, botany, British, Chelsea, Chelsea Physic Garden, England tours, English gardens, flowers, garden design, garden history, garden tours, gardens, history, London, luxury tours, plants, private tours