"The Chelsea Physic Garden was founded by the Society of Apothecaries in 1673 in order to promote the study of botany in relation to medicine, then known as the 'physic' or healing arts. As the second oldest botanic garden in England it still fulfills 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."Guy took the self-guided listening tour but I opted instead to walk around and take pictures. Are garden tours ever worthwhile? Guy enjoyed his, but I usually feel like I'm being told a lot of stuff I already know or could look up online if I wanted to know. For example, you can read about the garden's history and plant collection here and here.
We arrived early and admired the neighborhood while we waited for the garden to open. This is what Chelsea looks like:
The city peaks over the garden's edges very charmingly.
(The various greenhouses contained nice collections of ferns, succulents, and other Mediterranean-climate plants. We'll take a look inside before we go.)
The garden left no doubt about the end of summer. I saw deciduous leaves showing color or turning brown and annuals near death with seed heads left to ripen.
As I mentioned recently, Vitis in my garden is already much farther along. I peaked out from the deck upon arriving home yesterday and saw the vine nearly bare!
In my experience, this is what hosta would look like all year in coastal California where the absence of frost or freeze keeps it from dying back completely in winter:
Instead, cold temperatures cause most leaves to drop and slows its growth. Winter heatwaves inspire new growth, but the long, slow spring it is never fast enough to outrun the slugs and snails. That, plus its water requirements make hosta unsuitable in most Californian garden situations. In my experience, garden books that recommend it for shade are unlikely to contain much else of use to us either. So there. I still talk about gardening on this blog.
Functional evergreens pruned into spheres and well-defined beds hinted at some structure of the winter garden to come.
Laurus nobilis standards:
Topiary and rectangular beds--fine structure in an English garden. Or Italian for that matter. After London we went to Rome--stay tuned.
Californian garden paths tend to be gravel or hardscape. I'm trying to remember if I have ever wandered a grassy garden path before. Even in Seattle..? I think this part might have been a completely new experience for me.
The back part of the garden looked a lot like San Francisco to me.
I could be in Golden Gate Park right now.
Luma apiculata, from Chile, but found throughout San Francisco:
Actually, I saw several familiar faces. Can you see what this man is taking a picture of?
They have it planted in a rectangular perennial bed, and judging by the size it looked new this year. Congratulations on getting it established--successfully transplanting romneya from the nursery pot can be difficult--but I assume they are not going to keep it. Thuggish Romneya is not suitable for tidy rectangular perennial beds with lawn borders--not in California anyway. I didn't take the tour so I missed the opportunity to inquire.
Speaking of garden thugs....
I laughed out loud when I came up on this plant growing so well-behaved on a nice tee-pee! In my garden it grew up an 11' deck post before overtaking the deck and threatening to take the whole damn house! I gave it a hard pruning from which it never recovered. I have volunteers now that I haven't removed. Well, I'm thinking about it. The white flower form is very pretty. You may recall I had (have) the common purple, which I often found too dark.
It was sunny when we arrived, but by this point it started to rain, so I moved in to the greenhouses.
It cleared up fairly quickly. We enjoyed what I assume is nearing the end of this year's flowers and went on with the rest of the day.
Thank you Chelsea Physic for a lovely first morning in London.