Today I had the great honor of going to a place that has been held very high in my esteem for most of my lifetime.
Today I was the first at the gate, on the first day of the spring opening of the renowned Chelsea Physic Garden, London. It is a very old place, full of the story of people seeking the latest and greatest in plant material, a place where traditional plant healing knowledge and the rapidly expanding new botanical knowledge was, and is, being tested, preserved, and passed on.
Begun by the Society of Apothecaries of London in 1673, the Chelsea Physic Garden was originally established as a place of training and education for apprentice apothecaries to study plants used for medicinal purposes. They were given instruction in how to grow and care for these plants, and how to make tinctures and poultices for medicinal uses.
The Forsythia, named after the second Curator / Gardener of the Garden, William Forsyth, was blooming with explosive golden-yellow today. It glowed into the spring sunshine like a living beacon, and could be seen from all vantage points in the four-acre garden.
I enjoyed an incredible fern greenhouse and display, a cooperative project of the Natural History Museum of London (where I have spent several days this week researching) Botany Department and the Chelsea Physic Garden, serves as a growing place for Asplenium ferns being examined for taxonomic research. The light that travels though ferns has a magic glow not replicated anywhere else.
The great botanical explorers brought their latest finds to this garden, sheltered in a lovely neighborhood of Chelsea, London, England. Its leaders, such as Sir Hans Sloan (1660-1753), Phillip Miller (1691-1771) William Aiton, and William Forsyth served as the stimulus to intense international discussion about plants. This fascinating scientific learning and educational outreach continues at the Chelsea Physic Garden, which has long been an international leader in the promotion, conservation and continued scientific research of healing plants.
If you get a chance, do go to the Chelsea Physic Garden to enjoy a newly developed space, The Garden of Edible and Useful Plants. It opens in May 2012, and a wonderful book I recently bought from the National Geographic Society would be a great compliment to learning more about the plants soon to be seen in this new area.
Desk Reference to Nature’s Medicine