Situated in the heart of London, this 'Secret Garden' is a centre of education, beauty and relaxation. Founded in 1673 by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries, it continues to research the properties, origins and conservation of over 5000 species.
The Chelsea Physic Garden was founded by the Society of Apothecaries in 1673 in order to promote the study of botany in relation to medicine, then known as the "physic" or healing arts. As the second oldest botanic garden in England it still fulfils the traditional functions of scientific research and plant conservation and undertakes to educate and inform as well as to provide the amenity of a walled "secret" garden in the heart of London. Its aims are:
to demonstrate through its plantings and publications the range of species named or introduced to cultivation by a succession of distinguished curators;
to pursue horticultural excellence, especially in the cultivation of rare and tender plants;
to demonstrate to all who visit the many uses of plants and particularly the heritage of the plant world as our common medicine chest.
The Chelsea Physic Garden was founded in 1673, as the Apothecaries' Garden, with the purpose of training apprentices in identifying plants. The location was chosen as the proximity to the river created a warmer microclimate allowing the survival of many non-native plants - such as the largest outdoor fruiting olive tree in Britain - and more importantly, to allow plants to survive harsh British winters. The river was also important as a transport route that linked the garden to other open spaces such as Putney Heath, facilitating easy movements of both plants and botanists. In fact the garden has always sought to achieve good communications with others working in the same field: by the 1700's it had initiated an international botanic garden seed exchange system, which continues to this day.