Across the year we explored three key themes:

Horticulture for Humankind

Horticulture for humankind

‘Horticulture for humankind’ meant celebrating the role of plants and their benefits for humans with talks, tours and panel discussions. The Garden highlighted how this relationship has changed over time and questioned how humans would benefit from horticulture in the future.

Unlocking our collections

The Garden 'Unlocked its collections' by sharing new research and stories about Chelsea Physic Garden, its plant collection, and people in its history. With 350 years of history behind us, we shed light on previously untold stories about the plants in the collection and the people who have shaped what the Garden is today.

Unlocking our collections

A physic garden for the future

A physic garden for the future

Drawing on the Garden’s own experiences as a unique microclimate, the focus throughout the year was on what it means to be ‘A physic garden for the future,’ highlighting the importance of plant science to our understanding of climate change and biodiversity. The life of plants under glass and the role of plant science in the future of food and medicines, were also explored.

The three key themes were explored in blog posts...

Explore 350 years of Chelsea Physic Garden with our timeline of events below



9 October 1673. The Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London lease the land for 61 years from Charles Cheyne.


The wall is constructed around Chelsea Physic Garden, providing a microclimate.


First Glasshouse is built in the Garden, it is heated by a stove.


International seed exchange programme is established, which continues today.


The first Cedar trees of Lebanon to grow in England are planted in the Garden.


King Charles II builds the King’s Road, which remained a private royal road until the 1830s.



Sir Hans Sloane first proposes gifting the land Chelsea Physic Garden is on to the Apothecaries. This is agreed in 1722, and the Garden is now protected for future generations providing it maintains and grows “good and useful plants”.


Philip Miller is appointed to run the Garden, a post he holds for 50 years. His book The Gardeners’ Dictionary is still an important horticultural book today.


A heated Glasshouse is built at the Garden, specifically to grow fruit from tropical climates, such as pineapples.


The Pond Rockery is created. It is credited as being the first of its kind in the world.



The horticultural technique of forcing rhubarb is accidentally discovered.


Battersea Park, on the other side of the River Thames to the Garden, opens to the public.


Construction begins on the Chelsea Embankment. As part of this project the Garden loses its Barge Houses on the Thames but gains some land to offset this.


Women are allowed to study medicine for the first time in history of the Apothecaries. The number of students grows rapidly from a few hundred to 3,500.


The study of plants is dropped as a requirement from medical syllabus.


The City Parochial Foundation takes over responsibility for Chelsea Physic Garden from the Apothecaries.



The range of Foster & Pearson Glasshouses are completed and the Garden is laid out in the Bentham and Hooker classification system.


The Garden is used for agricultural research.


The Glasshouses are damaged during the Blitz of World War Two. The structures remain intact, but the glass has to be replaced.


The Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park is built as a shrine to World Peace. It can be seen from the Embankment Gate.


The Chelsea Physic Garden charity is created and takes over the running of the Garden.


The Garden opens to the public for the first time.


Fiona Crumley is appointed as the first female Head Gardener.


Sue Minter is appointed as the first female Curator of the Garden.


Chelsea Physic Garden Florilegium Society is founded.


Professor Mary Gibby uses the collection at the Garden to reclassify the Pelargonium genus.



Outdoor Study Centre opens for learners of all ages.


Glasshouse Restoration Project, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund begins.


LGBTQ+ History Month and Black History Month are celebrated at the Garden for the first time.


Chelsea Physic Garden celebrates the first 350 years of connecting people with plants.

Timeline image credits: 1685, The Physic Garden, Chelsea: a view towards the river showing the cedars by the wall. Lithograph by H. Warren after J. Fuge © Wellcome Trust; 1694, King Charles II by John Michael Wright, c. 1660–65 © National Portrait Gallery; 1721, © Laura Stoner-New; 1747, ‘The Old Physic Garden of the Society of Apothecaries at Chelsea, 1750’, 1890. Artist: Thomas W Lascelles © Wellcome Trust; 1763, The Pond Rockery © Laura Stoner-New; 1858, The lake in Battersea Park, 1858; 1874, The new Chelsea Embankment, from Battersea Bridge. London 1874. © The Illustrated London News; 1902, The old physic garden, Chelsea, 1890 © The Print Collector/Heritage Images; 1947, Peace Pagoda, Battersea Park © Bailey-Cooper Photography; 1987, Visitors © Laura Stoner-New; 1995, Viola odorata ‘Czar’ by Yvonne Glenister Hammond © Chelsea Physic Garden Florilegium; 2007, Outdoor Study Centre © Laura Stoner-New; 2021, LGBTQ History Month © Fikayo Adebajo – LGBTQ History Month