September 2nd 2018. London. Last day. Early to Hyde Park for morning light. Not as early as I said I would. Not dawn. Quiet, dogs playing, walkers walking, can already see the folks gathering for a lovely summery Sunday in the park down by Kensington Palace. I pack up my bags, stash them in the lobby. I head to Chelsea in time for the Physic Garden to open as I arrive. Sloane Square. Nice walk down the road past The Royal Hospital Chelsea approaching the Thames with every step. I arrive and the beautiful little gate is still shut. A small crowd begins to gather, I can see inside; it is precious. I don’t recall being there before. I loan my camera to a 4 year old who waits too. He takes pictures and laughs.
Oh I can see why B. loves this garden so. It is not only the whole world within these walls but the microcosms as well. Mostly grid of paths but some curves on the edges: “useful plants”, as the docent said, “don’t miss the cannabis”, she said, “and the hemp and nettle woven cloth”. The glasshouses and the cold frames attract me a little more, the long haired ginger cat with the Union Jack tag on a collar. Sits like a statue in the salvia, enormous ears, allowing strokes. Bumblebees busy everywhere. Niwaki secateurs in the gift shop. The tea room looks inviting. I brought my own lunch and tea.
I visit with more of my Californian cousins: Romneya, Umbellaria, Salvia. Other old friends: Luma apiculata, Amaryllis belladona, Eryngium, Clivia, and the rock garden so completely intriguing and seductive to my Mediterranean climate soul. The trail of the plant hunters was also a big treat for me; the Chelsea Embankment roaring by behind the wall. What a wonderful garden; wishing I could speak with one of the gardeners. Another time. I leave wanting a walled garden more than ever.
And this is what I encounter on the street outside….