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The Urban Physic Garden – A display of medicinal herbs and recycling genius

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Urban Physic Garden

When we were in London we visited the Urban Physic Garden, this garden was created by a collective of designers, urban growers and, over 150 volunteers, on a slice of unused land in Southwark London.

The urban block nestled between two buildings and backing onto the railway bridge was transformed into a garden themed like a conventional Hospital with ‘wards’ including cardiology, respiratory, psychiatry and dermatology, each filled with herbs relating to the ward. It was put together using recycled timbers, and other would be junk along with donated plants and plenty of volunteers.

Recycled timber beds

The gardens are all in polystyrene containers and are supported in recycled timber frames. The range of medicinal herbs jammed into this block was amazing.


The Cardiology ward included herbs such as ginkgo, rosemary, globe artichoke, motherwort, foxglove, garlic, yarrow, chicory, ginger, chilli and flax.


The respiratory ward contained elecampane, horseradish, angelica, thyme, wild strawberries, caraway mullein and verbena.


The dermatology ward contained Echinacea flowering beautifully, parsley, tea tree, self heal, gotu kola, marigold and aloe.


The general medicine ward contained echinacea, calendula, borage, rue, yarrow, peppermint, lemon balm, angelica and feverfew.

Operating Theatre

The operating theatre was down one end against the brick wall built from recycled steel poles and timber. This was where talks and lectures were held.

Treatment Room

The treatment room surrounded by white curtains where you could book in a massage on certain days.

Herbariam Xray Room

The Herbarium and X-ray room

Rambulance Cafe

The Rambulance café supplied light refreshments from the back of its retired ambulance.

The fire pit was the focal point for evening gatherings and sing alongs.

Cafe Table

The eating area was shaded with a sail that had pipes attached to collect the morning dew and rain, this went into holding tanks.

Herb Weed Wall

Alongside the water storage area beside the café there was a wall of herbal ‘weeds’ growing beautifully from the run off when tanks were full.

Lavender Loo Loo watt Toilet

The toilet was certainly an environmental masterpiece. The actual toilet was made from the Queens horses poop. It is fitted with a urine diverting bowl that separates the urine and faeces. Urine contains phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium in the right ratio for growing plants. The faeces from the toilet goes into an anaerobic digester on site where it is converted into natural gas. This supplies the gas for the stoves of the Rambulance café.

The herb tea we had was made using water heated by poop!

The garden, a summer project has been pulled down and was auctioned off in mid August.

posted on November 13th, 2011