This little patch of horticultural serenity tucked behind Chelsea’s salubrious residential streets is one of London’s little secrets. It is the country’s second-oldest botanical garden (after Oxford’s) and is constantly adding to its abundant collection of medicinal plants, making it fascinating for gardeners and non-gardeners alike. There’s a lovely indoor-outdoor café on-site, and it’s handily close to the new Chelsea outpost of the Ivy, which has dining tables in an old orangery.
Accessed through an entrance from the evocatively named Swan's Walk, this four-acre walled garden was founded in 1673 by the Society of Apothecaries of London to provide apprentices with an opportunity to grow medicinal plants for study - a use that remains vital to the garden's mission today.
Containing a collection of themed gardens interpreting the history and current uses of medicinal and edible plants, the Chelsea Physic Garden is home to the Tangerine Dream Cafe, listed as one of London's Best Park Cafes, open from April through October.
The garden offers seasonal activities, art installations and educational programs.