The Urban Physic Garden transformed the derelict site of Union Street once again into an imaginative pop-up community garden, this time shaped by the hospital and pharmacy, with a focus on medicinal plants and herbs that heal. Nearly 200 volunteers came together to build the garden, which organized plants by hospital ward in a series of garden rooms. Summer in the Urban Physic Garden was a festival of talks, workshops, film screenings and events. The garden provided a platform for artists, designers, gardeners and health practitioners from a diverse range of backgrounds and cultures.
The garden was host to a range of invited artists projects, including the return of Oliver Bishop-Young’s ping-pong skip, Tom Foulsham’s wonderful Water Pipe sculpture, Anna Garforth’s moss pharmacy cross and a UK premier of the play-structures designed by the Serbian collective Skart, previously shown at the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale.
The physic garden was a place for lively debate – where people came together to explore the role of plants in science, health, well-being and the environment. The area of Southwark around the garden has a long history as a center for caring for London’s sick and poor – from Southwark Cathedral and the Old Operating Theatre to St. Thomas and Guy’s Hospitals. The garden serves as a case study for emerging plans to create a physic garden in one of the historic quads at the Guy’s campus of King’s College. Plans for a garden are part of proposals to develop public access to King’s Museum of Life Sciences, which is housed on the Guy’s campus.
Dr. Peter Houghton, Professor Emeritus of Pharmacognocy, King's College London
Heather Ring, Wayward Plants
Filmed by Tijmen Veldhuizen
Produced by Abbas Nokhasteh