Now, having explained all the difficulties in visiting here, why would one want to bother? It is a lovely sight--a pretty walled herb garden that has been expanded to include exotic plants, as well as many of the usual lovely English variety. It was founded in 1673 and is the second-oldest Physic Garden in England. Physic Gardens were originally founded to teach the medicinal use of herbs, and that is still a part of its function today.
At 3pm on the day we were there was a guided tour of the garden, which we missed, but I can imagine that it would have been very informative. We were given a map with our paid entry that showed us what each part of the garden contained.
There are about 5,000 plants growing in the garden. In October, the color was not as bright as I am sure it is in earlier months, but still, there was much of interest to see. We spent some time at a bed of herbs that are cancer fighters. There was a plaque describing the uses and which cancer each plant can help. There were other beds in this pharmaceutical area, and we spent quite a bit of time there after which we wandered through the more exotic plants in the greenhouses.
By this time, we had worked up quite an appetite, and we headed to the tearoom for a brief respite, which turned into a full-blown tea. We were delighted with the fresh egg-mayonnaise sandwiches and the wonderful cakes; we sampled the banana, the coffee walnut, and the Victorian sponge. The staff here was very friendly and the service very casual. We drank several cups of tea and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
There is also a nice shop on the grounds, and several times a year, they sell plants. It was tempting to buy some of the seeds they were selling, but I wasn’t sure if we would be allowed to carry them back to the States.
Allow yourself several hours to visit the gardens, as there is much to see and enjoy.
November 13, 2002
From journal London-Once is Never Enough