Physic Garden

What is a Physic Garden?

It is a garden of medicinal plants, traditionally used in healing.

Where is it?

Find our Physic Garden at the main entrance of Dulwich Hospital. There are nine raised beds and two borders of native plants usually thought of as weeds but also used in herbal medicine.

Whose is it?

Chair of VRA at the time was Heather Burrell, sculptor: she had the vision and staying power to create it. With support from local councillors and environmentalists and the permission of the hospital authorities, Heather began planning a green space, aiming to involve people from nearby streets in gardening for health and well-being.

It is a gift to the community. Our hope is that it will last until building begins on a new community health centre. Perhaps a Physic Garden will form part of that scheme?

How did it happen?

An amazing £1400 was raised for the Garden on 22 January 2012 by musicians performing for free with The Goose is Out! at Dulwich Hamlets Football Club.
Read about the fundraising gig.

The beds were a gift too – built in Spring 2012 by McGovern Design and Build, a local firm of joiners. Groundwork and the Dulwich Community Council also helped fund the work and the sharing of information about healing plants. One bed was funded and planted by Copleston Together, a mental health project based in SE15.

In Spring 2014 a book of photographs about the garden was published, following the results of a photo-competition the previous summer. It is placed as a record in Dulwich Hospital waiting rooms.

Get Gardening!

Maintained by us, this garden costs the hospital nothing. Many plants were donated, others self-seed, or are perennials. Beds are laid out according to treatments for different functions of the body and mind, to attract bees and appeal to the senses.

All the work is done by volunteers working in small parties, often in the evening, and the dedicated group of gardeners are happy for new volunteers to join them. Herbs are ready to harvest from May onwards and if you see a Physic gardener on the site, ask for some.

In the summer we also meet on the first Monday of a month at 6.15pm for an hour’s weeding, watering and chart.

For more information contact the Physic Garden committee, Heather Burrell, Jan Reeves, Rix Pyke and Sandra Tait, via the VRA email.

New Work at the Physic Garden – spring 2015

The Physic Garden has been awarded more than £4000 to continue its work. Read about our exciting news!

Thank you!

… to many people who give time and bring expertise to the gardens, for community funding from Groundwork and Southwark Council and for gifts in kind from local businesses:

  • McGovern Carpentry
  • Monica McSherry of East Dulwich SNUB and Healthmatters
  • Chener Books
  • Dulwich Garden Centre (closed in 2013)
  • (and most especially!) Goose is Out!

More businesses have sponsored the Physic Garden in 2015 – thank you to them all.