This 3-day course will explore the history of medicinal plants and botanical gardens from a European context from the 1st Century A.D. to the present.

It will focus on 8 key medicinal plants to tell the stories of their uses, histories and identification and highlight the importance and relevance of modern botanical gardens via:

  • Walks and tours around CPG
  • A plant identification workshop
  • The chance to see some of the same plants in ancient Herbals, books and herbarium specimens in our collection.
  • Practical sessions to prepare them into usable natural remedies

Some quotes from the 2017 course:

"Friendly, entertaining, concise and inclusive"

"The practical sessions in the garden were very useful - no substitute for seeing plants in real life"

"Thoroughly enjoyed- opened many new avenues of interest"

The ticket price of £258 includes all materials, refreshments and lunch each day.

Days 1 & 2 will focus on the history and identification of the eight key plants and Day 3 will be practical herbalism.

If you’re interested in how and why herbs have been used past and present, this is a course for you.

No previous knowledge needed, just enthusiasm for the subject.

Looking at some of our library books
and Herbals

Tutor biographies & Timetables: 
(Please note that these timings and content may vary slightly on the days)

Letta Jones, MA is a Landscape Horticulturalist who lectures in Horticulture and the History of Gardens. She was a garden guide at the Chelsea Physic Garden for 18 years and regularly contributes to its learning programme to this day. She teaches at the South London Botanical Institute, City Lit, Denman and Woodbrooke Colleges, at Knuston Hall and Marlborough College Summer School. A Green Flag Parks Judge, she also runs her own gardens study tours abroad.


Inspired through a foundation course based at the Chelsea Physic Garden, Maria Vlotides completed a degree in Health Sciences: Herbal Medicine at the University of Westminster in 2007. Since graduating she has worked as a medical herbalist at a GP practice in West London, developed a teaching herb garden for the Hammersmith Community Gardens Association, and regularly leads workshops for various organisations across London. Maria has written a regular herb column for Country House Magazine, and recently published a book, Pharmapoetica: a dispensary of poetry, in collaboration with the poet Chris McCabe. She is a regular contributor to the Chelsea Physic Garden learning programme.

Day 1: Tuesday 12th June 2018

Lecture Room (up the stairs and above the Café) & Garden

Tutors: Letta Jones Tutors (and Maria Vlotides)

• 9.15 - 9.45am: Arrival, tea/coffee

• 9.45 -10.30am: Chelsea Physic Garden –its history and role in the study of medicinal plants

• 10.30 – 11am: Coffe/tea break

• 11.00am-12.30pm: Looking at the 8 key plants, from a historical point of view

• 12.30-1.30pm: LUNCH (a light lunch will be provided)

• 1.30-2.45pm: Historical Garden walk

• 2.45-3.00pm: tea and cake

• 3.00 – 4.00pm: How to identify herbs – practical session, questions and answers and discussion


Day 2 – Wednesday 13th June 2018

Lecture Room (up the stairs and above the Café) & Garden

Tutor: Letta Jones (with contributions from CPG staff)

• 9.15 - 9.45am: Arrival, tea/coffee

• 9.30 -10.45am: The history of European herbs and botanic gardens from the 1st Century A.D. - present day

• 10.45 – 11.15am: Coffe/tea break

• 11.15am-12.30pm: Looking at the 8 key plants, from the point of view of early Herbals, books and herbarium specimens from the CPG library, archives and herbarium

• 12.30-1.30pm: LUNCH (a light lunch will be provided)

• 1.30-2.45pm: Identifying herbs in the Garden continued

• 2.45-3.00pm: tea and cake

• 3.00 – 4.00pm: Learning more – summary and feedback and discussion


Day 3 - Thursday 14th June 2018

Education Room (along the path from the Café) & Garden

Tutors: Maria Vlotides (and Letta Jones)

• 9.15 - 9.45am: Arrival, registration, tea/coffee and a chance to explore the Garden

• 9.45 -10.30am: Welcome, overview and introductions – tutors and particpants

• 10.30 – 11am: Tour of the Garden to ‘meet’ the 8 key plants

• 11.00am-12.30pm: Making infusions, tea tasting, making decoctions and tinctures

• 12.30-1.30pm: LUNCH (a light lunch will be provided)

• 1.30-2.45pm: Making an infused oil and balm

• 2.45-3.00pm: tea and cake

• 3.00 – 4.00pm: Making a syrup, feedback and questions

Book a place

Ticket Quantity Price

Medicinal Plant Summer School

Decrease Increase £258.00