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Physic Gardens
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A physic garden is simply a collection of medicinal plants and shrubs and will usually contain plants which have been used for centuries as natural medicines. The word "physic" is derived from the Latin physica and Greek phusik and means a medicinal preparation or remedy.

Although out of fashion nowadays because of modern medicines, physic gardens have a long tradition in this country and elsewhere. Monasteries, in particular, typically would have a garden devoted to both culinary and medicinal herbs and plants. Indeed, until fairly recently, most people with a garden would grow plants that are useful in someway, including favourites such as mint, lemon balm, foxgloves, yarrow and lavender. Ornamental or decorative gardens, such as we are used to today, are a fairly new development for the majority of the population. A physic garden is much more traditional and can be anything from a small patch of land with a few herbs to a rather more grand affair containing beds of herbs in geometric patterns, knot gardens, topiary and orchards.

Physic gardens to visit in the UK:


Chelsea Physic GardenChelsea Physic Garden
Founded in 1673 and located in the heart of London, Chelsea Physic Garden has a well established herb and medicinal plant collection, plus an historical walk, points of interest and seed information. You can visit between April and October, excluding bank holidays. The garden is also available for hire from April to October.

Dilston Physic Garden
Dilston Physic Garden is near Corbridge, Northumberland, and contains over 500 medicinal plants. Each species has an informational signboard. The garden is open from April to September.

Norwich Cathedral
Norwich Cathedral's Benedictine herb garden has recently been re-sited and grows culinary, medicinal and strewing herbs, chosen to match the plants grownby the Benedictine monks at Norwich in the Middle ages. Includes a small knot garden.

Royal Botanic Garden, Edingburgh
Established in 1670, the garden has many visitors each year and has a shop and a restaurant. The garden is open throughout the year and entry to the garden is free, but there is a charge for the Glasshouses. The website also contains information on Benmore Botanic Garden (Dunnon), Dawyck Botanic Garden (Peebles) and Logan Botanic Garden (Stranraer).

The Oxford Botanic Garden
Founded in 1621 and originally called the Oxford Physic Garden, the garden containsover 8000 different plant species. You can find it at the edge of the Cherwell by Magdalen Bridge. Open throughout the year.


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