Founded nearly 350 years ago though only open to the public since 1983, Chelsea Physic Garden is a little-known gem in the heart of the capital and home to more than 5,000 plant species.
Situated on the banks of the Thames, just across from Battersea Park, the garden was the creation of the 'Worshipful Society of Apothecaries' (an apothecary prepared and sold medicines and drugs - similar to today's pharmacist) and to this day studies and researches the medicinal qualities of the plants they nurture there, as well as their properties and origins. Among them are many rare and endangered varieties.
Its location beside the Thames allows non-native species to grow in the warmer micro-climate present there, one of which happens to be Britain's largest outdoor olive tree and the world's northernmost outdoor grapefruit tree.
Entry for adults is £8 though if you think you might want to make multiple visits through the seasons, then consider becoming a Friend of the Garden. The reasonable membership fee, which goes towards the cost of operating and maintaining the garden, gives members all kinds of special privileges.
Chelsea Physic Garden is at open at select times, with special winter openings for Friends of the Garden that include free guided tours as well as hearty food and mulled wine served up at its Tangerine Dream cafe.
The garden runs a number of special events throughout the year, including seasonal fairs and adult education initiatives where you can learn about the wonders of the garden's medicinal plants, find out about the history of herbalism, uncover the secrets of effective organic pest control, and a lot more besides.
This place is ideal for those who simply want a break from the noise of the city, as well as anyone interested in medicine-related botany. Either way, this enchanting enclave on the banks of the Thames leaves a lasting impression on many of those who visit.