Chelsea Physic Garden

Last updated: 7 October 2020 - this entry is more than a year old, for details on how to update click here

PlantNetwork member
Address and contact details
66 Hospital Road, London, SW3 4HS
Tel: 020 7352 5646
Web site:
Latitude: 51° 29' 00" N
Longitude: 0° 9' 44" E
Background to the collection
Year founded:1673
Ownership:Independent Charity
Garden code:CHEL
Umbrella organisation:PlantNetwork, Botanic Gardens Conservation International, National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens
Director/Curator: Sue Medway
Head Gardener: Nell Jones
Deputy Head of Collections & Volunteer Manager: Alison Napier
Glasshouse Manager: Jess Snowball
Propagation Manager: vacant
Plant Records Manager: Kevin Creed
Contact person: Nell Jones (
Total Staff:17 (5 Horticultural Staff, 2 Education staff, 10 Administration Staff)
Total Horticultural Staff:5
Accessions:To accession plant material which will (i) augment the Historic Walk with species linked to the curators and associates of the Garden with a current focus on Lindley and Fortune; (ii) augment the medicinal plant collections with species known or suspected of biological activity as well as species used for medicinal purposes; (iii) be only arboreal species that are rare and likely to benefit from our microclimate, or which are medicinal or linked to the Historic Walk; (iv) augment genera in which the Garden has specific research interst, e.g. Cistus, Narcissus, Pelargonium, Dryopteris, Trichomanes, Asplenium and various genera of Macaronesia and Mediterranean Island endemics. Almost entirely accessed by seed from other Botanic Gardens with policy on Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and prior informed consent clauses.
Collections:Preference given to natural-source material with good field notes.
Physical environment
Altitude:5 m
Soil type:Riverbank alluvium, neutral
Aspect:South and mostly flat
Total area:1.5 ha
Area heated:0.1A
Weather recordsRecords are kept
Av. monthly max:23.48 °C (2017) 17.06 °C (2014)
Av. monthly min:5.01 °C (2017) 9.4 °C (2014)
Absolute maximum:34.4 °C (June 2017) 26.56 °C (2014)
Absolute minimum:-2.2 °C (January 2017) 4.2 °C (2014)
Strength:Below average
Average annual:45.78 mm (2017) 556.45 mm (2014)
Month of maximum:92.5 mm (July 2017)
Month of minimum:5.2 mm (April 2017)
Plant collection
Notable plants within the collection:
Largest grapefruit tree and olive tree outside in British Isles.
Geographical area(s) of specialisation:
Macaronesia, Southern Africa
Special families within the collections:
Special genera within the collections:
Special collections:
Medicinal Plants of the World, Plants used in Pharmaceuticals, Edible & Useful Plants, Historical Plants, Dicotyledon Order Beds, Medicinal Plants from Forest and Woodland, Pelargoniums
Record Keeping:Kept since 1946
Record System:IrisBG
Plant-collecting trips:No
Facilities on site
Herbarium:Yes, wild and cultivated specimens. Includes bound historic herbaria
Library:400 items. Includes old herbals, ethnobotany, history of medicine, history of plant introductions. Public access only by prior appointment
Research facilities:Seed bank
Publications:Index Seminum, Garden Guide
Identifications:Internal verification of material by specialist taxonomist
Teaching and Education:Primary, secondary, higher, taxonomic, public education, special courses
Interpretation:Supervised garden walks, signs, brochures, guided trails
Friends Organisation:Yes
Visitor facilities:Café, plant shop, book shop, gift shop
Access to the collections
Public access:Admission charge
Visitors per year: 55,000
Public opening hours:Please see our website for current opening hours, they change throughout the year.
Guiding principles behind the collection
Chelsea Physic Garden was founded by the Society of Apothecaries in 1673 in order to promote study of botany for medicine, then known as the physic or healing arts. As the second oldest botanic garden in England, it still fulfils the traditional functions of scientific research and plant conservation, and undertakes to educate and inform as well as to provide the amenity of a walled 'secret' garden in the heart of London. Its aims are to demonstrate through its plantings and publications the range of species named or introduced to cultivation by a succession of distinguished curators; to pursue horticltural exellence, especially in the cultivation of rare and tender plants; to demonstrate, to all who visit, the many uses of plants and, particularly, the heritage of the plant world as our common medicine chest.
Location map

Please help us keep this directory up to date. Click here to complete and submit an update.