A Dash of Lavender: Celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month with Queer Botany

How can we diversify our knowledge of plants? Stories about plants, ideas of their significance, who gets to tell these stories and what perspectives are shared, have been filtered by a select few.

For LGBTQ+ History Month Chelsea Physic Garden is collaborating with Queer Botany to look at plants and the Garden through a queer botanical lens. LGBTQ+ is an acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, and other sexual and gender minorities. Queer Botany aims to share marginalised perspectives, support more diverse representations in the environment and outdoors, and affirm connections between queerness and plants. The term ‘queer’ originally meant ‘strange’ or ‘peculiar’ and was used against the LGBTQ community, but has been reclaimed by activists as a broad term for sexual and gender minorities.

Historically LGBTQ+ people have been stigmatised and often referred to as being ‘unnatural’, however, the natural world is rife with queerness. One such example can be found in the variety of plants and their reproductive methods. Nature is in constant flux and is at its best when rich in diversity. Concepts such as science & culture, male & female, human & nature are often contrasted in stark binaries but queerness favours multiplicity and gradients.

There are many applications of floral symbols to reference homosexuality, especially in literature. There is a peculiar cultural link between queerness and the symbolism of flowering plants, which can be found in the term ‘pansy’, or ‘a streak’ or ‘a dash’ of lavender. Lavender is the plant which has arguably been most associated with the LGBTQ+ community as a whole and the colour purple is often used to represent queerness.

As a part of A Dash of Lavender: Celebrating LGBTQ+ history month with Queer Botany, there will be a trail around Chelsea Physic Garden, sharing stories about plants from a queer perspective.

With admission you can pick up a printed map for free.

The Garden is also hosting four events throughout February (scroll to the bottom of this page for events listings): Evening Botanist: A Talk with Queer Botany, A Dash of Lavender: Guided Tour, Queer Botanical Drawing Session, Queer Botanical Poetry Reading

About Queer Botany: Queer Botany aims to share marginalised perspectives, support more diverse representations in the environment and outdoors, and affirm connections between queerness and nature.

Click the button below to view and download the Dash of Lavender trail before your visit.