Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Hello Blogland, how are you? 

While we have lovely weather in the UK, I am being more adventurous with the odd day out.  Last week it was a trip to London.  The train took only 35 minutes fast into Victoria and an easy 170 bus ride to Chelsea took me to The Physic Garden, it's shaded leafy side entrance is on Swan Walk.

It's the oldest botanic garden in London and was founded in 1673 by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries for the purpose of training apprentices in the identification and use of medicinal plants. It subsequently became one of the most important centres of botany and plant exchange in the world. (copied from the website).

Ordinarily I would avoid guided tours as I don't like being herded, but to be honest if I hadn't joined this one (free/volunteers and superb)... it would have been a day trip totally wasted.  My guideValerie made everything come alive, explaining how the founders used the Thames River to visit the gardens, collected their plants/herbs for various potions and scurried back to their gardenless abodes to create medicinal concoctions.  She explained plant by plant what each one did (poisonous, medicinal, edible, to make natural fibres), how the gardens came to exist and how they are funded/maintained today.  It was 45 minutes well spent.    How fabulous is it that people love these gardens so much they volunteer to work in them - their only reward is first dibs at the honey from their own hives within the gardens.

This is Hans Sloane, when I arrived I thought it was just a boring old statue, when I left I thought he was the most important thing there:   I learned he not only became a leading physician in London  (sometimes summoned by the Royal Family - but treated the poor free) but went on voyages abroad to find and bring back plants which are now in the gardens ... he brought back Cocoa from Jamaica, (introducing it to Cadbury's chocolate empire).  Originally used as a hot milky drink, it was intended as an elixir.  There's more - much more - I could tell you but you would do better to use Google as there is so much to learn, better still come and see for yourself.

I worked in Chelsea for a mineral exploration company providing services to Saudia Arabia/region.  I was a 20 year old, typing telex (remember those anyone?) flight paths for mineral exploration for their aircraft, no room for type errors there or they would totally have a wasted journey.   (due to a successful flight path I had the pleasure of holding a piece of raw gold found on one of their explorations, but that would be a story for another day)... I had no idea in my 20s where the name Sloane came from when I lunched in Sloane Square off Kings Road Chelsea where I worked, I was more interested in sharing my Waitrose supermarket sandwich with King, the company security dog who sat faithfully under my desk waiting for biscuits/treats - what a shame to have worked within a short bus ride of these fabulous gardens and been unaware of their beauty.  Lucky me that I now have time to discover these wonders.

I have had trouble uploading some of my pics, but saw Beladonna, devils cherry, which  must not be touched (or eaten) known throughout European Folklore for its halucinogenic and fatal poisonous properties.

None of the gardening staff could tell me what insect is eating the leaves, although I have since read that cattle and birds can eat the berries and plant without harm.

I really enjoyed learning about the properties of woad as an antiseptic (which warriors of old painted their bodies with - smelly brown stuff but perhaps it wasn't just to scare the opposition so much as to heal any potential wounds... there were plants used to make dyes here too and I learned that the root of the Iris plant gives us oris which is a fixative in scent and pot pourri.

Two hours was enough and then I took the underground to South Kensington to see the Natural History Museum.  There was time to ponder over dinossaurs, insects and rock formations, then a swift journey home in time for tea!

My costs for the day were minimal, just my train fare, a supermarket sandwich/water and the entry fee of £10.50 to the gardens, the museums in London area free.

Back soon, thanks for stopping by.


  1. Good for you, going on field trips alone! Smart! I wish we had trains that would take us on longer journeys. We have to drive. Boo.
    That poison plant is scary, isn't it? Yikes!
    I like the way you think, Betty.

  2. What an interesting place to visit, and what history there is there. I am sad never to have visited the Physic garden.

  3. It is so much fun to discover places like this and get out into the world. Nature is so soothing and calming and restores us.

  4. Such a wonderful day you had! Yes, it is nice to be in that time of life where we actually have TIME to enjoy such things. :)


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