On Tuesday our U3A Gardens Group had a slightly different garden visit. We went to a very small local garden and had a talk about herbs and the history of Petersfield Physic Garden.
The garden is tucked away down a little alley just off the High Street. If you didn’t know it was there you could easily miss it.
We were met by Jenny, the Head Gardener who clutching her trusty Culpeper herb guide and with her knowledge and great sense of humour, walked us around the garden.
Described as “An oasis of peace in the centre of the town”, this delightful tranquil garden certainly lived up to its name. You could feel the peace as you entered. What struck us also were how tame the birds were. As we stood there a delightful robin was so close to us it almost hopped around on our shoes.
Originally a medieval burbage plot, it was donated to the Hampshire Garden Trust in 1988 by the owner when he found the field, full of rare flowers, was to be developed. It was decided to turn it into a physic garden as it might have been in the 17th century. You will only find plants up to that time.
As we walked towards the herb garden we passed a meadow of spring flowers, mainly wild daffodils and swathes of fritillaria. The meadow also has Yellow Rattle grown to surpress dominant grasses and restore wildflower meadows. There is a selection of old fruit trees including a Medlar tree. Jenny told us the fruit used be called ‘dogs bottom’ and if you know what the fruit looks like, you will agree there is a likeness. Apparently a few of the volunteers collect the rotted fallen fruit to make jam which can be bought from the little sales area. There are also plants to buy.
Herbs have been used for many centuries as dyes, compounds, tinctures, medicinal purposes and cooking. Jenny told us fascinating stories of how herbs were used medicinally in medieval times, many would be frowned upon these days! We also heard how some of them got their names.
The garden is managed by the Friends of the Petersfield Physic Garden and is open every day except over Christmas. It is a charity and relies on donations.
If you want more information about the garden check out their website click HERE