Free Garden Tour London
The Royal College of Physicians run free garden tours of our amazing medical garden. The tours are available on the first Wednesday of every month at 2pm and run from March to November. These tours are conducted by garden fellows Dr Henry Oakeley, Prof Michael de Swiet, and Prof Tony Dayan. Please call 0203 075 1200 to book. Group tours can be arranged at other times via the Social Events Manager on 0207 034 4901.
The Royal College of Physicians have had a medical garden since 1965. The garden was extensively replanted and expanded by Mark Griffiths in 2005-06 with sponsorship from the Wolfson Foundation.
Under the stewardship of head gardener Jane Knowles the collection has continued to expand and now contains over 1,100 plants with links to the history of medicine. The plant beds are laid out and labeled primarily according to their geographical origins. These locations include:
- Medicinal plants from Ancient Greece and Rome
- Medicinal plants from North America
- Medicinal plants from the Orient
- Medicinal plants from Europe
- Medicinal plants from the Middle East
- Medicinal plants from the Southern Hemisphere
There are also plants whose names commemorate physicians such as Rudbeck, Dahl, Fuchs, Kniphof and Zinn and a descendant of the tree under which Hippocrates taught medical students 2,400 years ago.
All the plants in the RCP garden are labelled. Those named after notable physicians are labeled in blue and contain biographical information. Green labels are attached to the plants that are used in contemporary medicine.
Many of the plants have no current medical use but they offer an illuminating window into the history, beliefs and culture of medicine through the ages. The garden has been beautifully designed and is a wonderfully calm space in the centre of London. The real joy of the garden is in its unique and bespoke collections of plants. They offer living examples of the history of medicine from the era of the pyramids of Egypt to today’s life-saving prescription drugs.