The Medicinal Garden

The Medicinal Garden is the first garden encountered by VBG visitors and is a reminder of the early botanic gardens: apothecary gardens like the Chelsea Physic Garden in London.

By Ventnor Botanic Garden

Medicinal GardenVentnor Botanic Garden

Medicinal Garden
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Curator of Ventnor Botanic Garden, Chris Kidd introduces the garden.

The potential of the plant kingdom to provide us with cures for many of the worst diseases known to man is now understood.

Renewed effort is being put into the study of ethnobotany, the use of plants by man, as the deep, generations old knowledge of plants many indigenous people hold is being lost. Some researchers say, “Don’t just save the plants, save the people that know their uses.”

Rosemary MedicinalVentnor Botanic Garden

In keeping with the ethos of a 21st century botanic garden we cultivate plants with multiple uses by man from food, to fibre, horticulture, and fragrance.

Our early morning visitors often see our chef cutting sage, rosemary, parsley, lovage, mint or borage for the day’s dishes. Lovage, Levisticum officinale, like many medicinal plants is both a food and medicine.

Bishops BallsVentnor Botanic Garden

We are often asked, “What is the most dangerous plant in the world?” It is grown as an annual in the Medicinal Garden, and kills millions every year, yet is also a key source of Niacin (Vitamin B3), an essential human nutrient.

The plant is Nicotiana tabacum, tobacco, which has brilliant white tubular flowers in summer and is heavily scented at night. In common with many medicinal plants, tobacco is toxic if used incorrectly.

The Terrace Medicinal GardenVentnor Botanic Garden

Another classic example from English cottage gardens is Digitalis purpurea or foxglove which slows the heart rate for tachycardia, but stops the heart if overdosed.

The south-facing bank is home to Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender), a distinctly fragrant Mediterranean shrub which flowers profusely in June. The end of the terrace boasts a significantly large fig tree planted by Dr Hill Hassall himself in 1871.

Fig Arch Medicinal GardenVentnor Botanic Garden

Global warming in the last century now means that this cultivar, ‘Brown Turkey’, sets a good crop of fruit every summer. The wasp that pollinates figs is causing more fruit to be pollinated and therefore set seed.

In Hill Hassall’s day there was one fig viable at VBG; today we grow twenty-three different figs.

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