Taking advantage of a dry spell in the weather, I recently went on a walk from our South Kensington hotel, Number Sixteen. This time I wanted to walk away from the hustle and bustle of the Kings Road. I’m always amazed by how quiet and calm a road parallel to a main high street in London can be and I enjoy exploring the secluded mews and houses, each with their own personalities.
A short 20 minute walk and just a mile from Number Sixteen is the Chelsea Physic Garden.
The first thing you see when you enter the secret garden are these large woven Willow sculptures by Tom Hare.
The fact that the apples are much larger than life size reminds me of our ‘Mythical Land’ wallpaper, where I wanted the pears to be emphasised in a magical and abundant way.
This special garden is near the River Thames, nestled behind brick walls. In 1673, the location was specifically chosen by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries, to take advantage of the warm air currents and near river access. Even on this autumn day, the south facing aspect created an ideal microclimate for the garden and enabled us to make the most of the sun.
I was amazed to see the largest olive tree in the country. It is also home to the most northerly outdoor grapefruit tree in the world. There are over a hundred species of trees in the garden, which has an international reputation.
These Order Beds were laid out in 1902, where you can discover over 800 plants arranged according to their families.
When the garden was first established, one of its roles was for young apothecaries to learn about key medicinal plants. These are still displayed around a theatre and you can learn about their uses.
A fantastic gate leading to the Embankment is adorned with the fascinating badge of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries in London. Apollo the great god of healing is depicted overcoming a serpent representing disease.
Why not explore this exquisite garden with a rich history during the quieter week between Christmas and New Year, it’s the perfect time to visit.
66 Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, London, SW3 4HS