During the middle ages, the monasteries kept the art of gardening alive, with the growing of plants for food and medicine. Monasteries had their own infirmaries, with a nearby ‘physic’ garden supplying the plants that the monks prepared and dispensed.
These physic gardens contained new plant species mainly from the east; as native species could be collected locally, from the wild. The gardens were organised into small individual beds , with one species of plant grown in each, to prevent mistakes being mage when harvesting, as many of the plants were poisonous.
Many modern medicines are derived from plant origins; such as aspirin, which originated from willow and many plants still play an important part in modern medicine, such as poppy, the source of morphine.
The Yalding ‘Apothecary’s Garden’ has been designed as a small example of such a physic garden and contains a host of plants that were used from the thirteenth century onwards for medicinal purposes, in cooking, or to mask unpleasant smells. Do however be aware that many of these plants can be poisonous and should not be touched!
Original Garden Design: Caroline Holmes (on behalf of the Herb Society)
Apothecary’s Garden central-beds planting, as at July 2012:
Some of the above text was originally published by HDRA/Garden Organic (www.gardenorganic.org.uk) and is reproduced here, with their kind permission.