Urban Physic Garden

Urban Physic Garden header image 1

The Urban Physic Garden (UPG) is an urban garden of living medicine shaped by the hospital and pharmacy, with a focus on medicinal plants and herbs that heal. Extending beyond herbal remedies, the garden demonstrates the potential of Food as Medicine, tackling urban nutrition, obesity, healthy cooking, food growing and education.

From wild seeds in vacant lots and domestic herbs found in back gardens to exotic species gathered around the world, plants have been used to cure all kinds of ills: whether by acting as traditional remedies in teas and tonics to playing a key part in the latest cutting-edge pharmaceutical treatments.

The Urban Physic Garden garden emerges in meanwhile spaces, underutilized land and rooftops – healing derelict sites, bringing together communities and providing a platform for collaboration between artists, designers, urban growers and health practitioners across a diverse range of backgrounds and cultures. The garden is a living forum that brings people together to explore the role of plants in science, health, well-being and the environment.

What’s a physic garden?

A physic garden is a place where plants with medicinal properties grow. For thousands of years people have been using plants to cure all kinds of ills. London’s first physic garden opened in 1673 – an enchanting walled garden in Chelsea where the city’s apothecaries tended exotic species from around the world. The garden then stretched right down to Thames, and both students and botanical curiosities would arrive by boat. Still open, it’s been a green-fingered physician’s dream for over 300 years.

Magic meets medicine

While physic gardens are steeped in much wonderful myth and legend, botany is also incredibly important to modern medicine. The latest and most cutting edge cancer drugs are derived from plants. A physic garden brings an array of healing herbs into one potent place and becomes a space for learning, research and experimentation. A physic garden is also a valuable way of conserving rare and endangered species.

People as well as plants

The Urban Physic Garden provides a platform for artists, designers, gardeners and health practitioners from a diverse range of backgrounds and cultures. It is a place for lively debate – where people can come together to explore the role of plants in science, health, well-being and the environment.