London, UK: From Meadowsweet to aspirin, from London to Zen
Founded in 1673, the Chelsea Physic Garden isn't the oldest botanic garden in England. That distinction belongs to the garden at Oxford University which dates back another 52 years.
Let's not get too worked up about those details. It's still really old. And it's in London. And there's a good chance that you've visited London, perhaps often, and never knew about the place. Now you do.
It was originally called the Apothecaries' Garden because the idea was apprentices would come here to learn plant identification for use in medicine. In a sense, that mission has never changed. Showcasing the medicinal use of plants is still a key reason for the Garden's existence.
The Pharmaceutical Garden makes the point with plants in various beds and their story of healing. For instance, salicyclic acid was made from Meadowsweet and that led to the development of aspirin. There are plants that have been important in such fields as Oncology, Cardiology, Lung Disease, and Neurology. If you're at all into natural healing, you will find all this totally cool. If you're not, you'll probably find it interesting anyway.
Still, that may not be the best reason to visit. All cities need their oases and sanctuaries and this is one of London's best. In this small spot by the Thames, London and time itself seem to pause. The plants around you unlock nature's gift of healing and the same could be said of the Chelsea Physic Garden itself.