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Garden Gallery: The Urban Physic Garden

June 18, 2013

Do you know what a physic garden is?  I have to admit that until I attended design school at the English Garden School – which at the time was headquartered at The Chelsea Physic Garden in London, England, I had no idea what the term meant either.  So, in case you don’t know, a physic garden is a special kind of herb garden whose purpose is to grow medicinal plants.   

urban physic garden

Physic Gardens in History

The first known physic garden was started by Matthaeus Silvaticus in Salerno, Italy, in the 1300s. Many more followed as the main suppliers of medical apothecaries and even modern pharmacies.  With the use of modern medicine and the loss of a collective knowledge of the healing and medicinal powers of plants, it is rare to see a new Physic Garden so that is why the Urban Physic Garden is particularly exciting.

moss wall urban physic garden
medicinal plants at the urban physic garden via

The Urban Physic Garden, which in its original home was a pop-up space in Southwark, London, is currently a traveling exhibit that is making its way through Asia (anyone wants to help me see if we can bring it to the States?).

gastro plants from physic garden

The Garden, which hosts a variety of exhibits, a cafe, and lots of related arts and science events, is organized into wards – just like a hospital so you can learn about plants as related to their medical application.

urban physic garden via
medicine cabinet via
medicine cabinet via

The most clever part is that the kitchen for the cafe is in a converted ambulance, and it is called the Ambulance Cafe (get it, rambling and ambulance cafe….cute, right?).

(click on the images above for a bigger version where you can read more about some of these elixirs)

I have made cocktails with mint and other herbs, but despite a few lessons from a friend who is very good with this sort of thing…I don’t think to head outside or garden my way out of a headache.   I think this is a lost knowledge that we need to regain for the benefit of a better understanding of our world and how to make sure that our pharmaceutical companies are serving us well.

I’m curious if you use any plants from your garden to treat ailments.   If you do use plants medicinally, I would love to hear your remedies and methods. 


images from Urban Physic Garden

More Urban Gardens to Explore:

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  1. Taunya says:

    Hello Rochelle,
    Corn Silk Sun Tea is a natural diuretic. 8 to 12 ears of fresh corn silk to one gallon of water, allow it to sit in the sun for a day and drink one cup daily with fresh juice or straight. will have a faint taste of corn!

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