Medicinal Plant Summer School
Tuesday 12th - Thursday 14th June 2018, 9.30am-4pm

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 (White Willow, Pot Marigold, St. John’s Wort, Common Thyme, Hawthorn, Stinging Nettle, Lavender and Echinacea), 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. Part of the Grapevine Garden History group, she lectures on introductory and advanced courses on the History of Gardens. The next ‘Taster’ day on Garden History in 10 Objects  in London is on Sat 22 September 2018.  A Green Flag Parks Judge, she also runs her own bespoke gardens study tours abroad with ACE Cultural Tours of Cambridge, the next one is to the Republic of Ireland in May 2019, all are welcome, call 01225 841055 for details or e mail [email protected]

Letta’s courses on Trees at The Chelsea Physic Garden are on Thursday 12 July and Wednesday 17 October.


Inspired through a year-long foundation course based at the Chelsea Physic Garden, Maria Vlotides completed a BSc 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 has regularly lead workshops for various organisations and businesses across London including Open Age, Chelsea Fringe and Archant and Kids Company. Maria used to write a regular herb column for Country House Magazine, and published a book, Pharmapoetica: a dispensary of poetry, in collaboration with the poet Chris McCabe, in 2013, which was nominated for the Ted Hughes Award. 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)

Tutors: Letta Jones (and Maria Vlotides)

  • 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 participants
  • 10.30 – 11am: Coffee/tea break
  • 11am- 12.00: Chelsea Physic Garden –its history and role in the study of medicinal plants
  • 12.00-1230: Introduction to the 8 Key plants
  • 12.30-1.30pm: LUNCH (a light lunch will be provided)
  • 1.30-2.45pm: Historical Garden walk and looking at the 8 Key plants
  • 2.45-3.00pm: tea and cake
  • 3.00 – 4.00pm: Identifying herbs, Part 1 – practical session, questions, answers and discussion


Day 2 – Wednesday 13th June 2018

Lecture Room (up the stairs and above the Café)

Tutor: Letta Jones (with contributions from CPG staff)

  • 9.15 - 9.45am: Arrival, tea/coffee
  • 9.45 -10.30am: The history of European herbs and botanic gardens from the 1st Century A.D. - present day
  • 10.30 – 11.00am: Coffee/tea break
  • 11.00am -12.30pm: Looking at the 8 key plants in 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 ,Part 2, in the Garden , continued
  • 2.45-3.00pm: tea and cake
  • 3.00 – 4.00pm: Learning more – summary, feedback and discussion with link to tomorrow’s practical sessions


Day 3 - Thursday 14th June 2018

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

Tutor: Maria Vlotides

  • 9.15 - 9.45am: Arrival, registration, tea/coffee
  • 9.45 -10.30am Principles and practice of herbal medicine making                                                                                       
  • 10.30 - 12.30pm: Practical 1 : Making infusions, decoctions, and tinctures
  • 12.30-1.30pm: LUNCH (a light lunch will be provided)
  • 1.30-2.45pm: Practical 2 Making an infused oil and balm
  • 2.45-3.00pm: tea and cake
  • 3.00 – 345pm:Practical 3 Making a syrup
  • 345-4pm Questions, Evaluation and close

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Medicinal Plant Summer School

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