South London Botanical Institute

South London Botanical Institute
(Photo: Janne Watson)
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The South London Botanical Institute (SLBI), which celebrated its centenary in 2010, continues to fulfil its original remit to inspire local people to find fascination in the plant world.

The SLBI supports London's smallest botanic garden, which is densely planted with over 500 labelled species, grown in a formal layout of themed borders. Traditional medicinal herbs grow beside plants used in current pharmaceutical research. Ferns, carnivorous plants, British natives, scented plants, monocots and drought-tolerant plants feature alongside rare trees and shrubs from the southern hemisphere. We have also planted a new food plant trail.

A new moss trail has been created, with each species linked to detailed information online. A new pond and wetland area are at the heart of the garden. There is access for pond-dipping and new planting will continue to provide a home for frogs and newts.

We have re-created the ‘living museum of strange visitors’, as the original garden was described in a newspaper article of 1912. The writer marvelled at the profusion of wild flowers allowed to flourish in the garden, and this tradition continues.

Other features include a specially commissioned mosaic, designed by Emma Biggs, to celebrate the centenary. Our lecture room had a major refurbishment in 2014, including a specially commissioned wallpaper designed around plants in our garden and pressed flowers from the herbarium.

Head gardener: Sarah Davey

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