Studying Plants at South London Botanical Institute

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Last weekend was Open Garden Squares Weekend here in London. I already had plans to meet up with a friend on Sunday, so we decided to hit one of the places on the list local to us.

I've often passed by the South London Botanical Institute and thought it would be worth a visit, but unfortunately at the moment it's only open on Thursdays from 10am-4pm ~ not great if you work full-time in central London! So when I saw it was open for this event it seemed a good time to finally get along there and see what they do.

Since it opened in 1910, the Institute has provided facilities for the study of all things plant-related. Housed in an unassuming building on Norwood Road, inside you can find an amazing library of botanical books and journals, plus a huge herbarium collection of dried and pressed specimens, which are currently being photographed and uploaded online to allow the public wider and easier access to them.

But it is the garden at the back of the Institute which won me over. Densely planted with a wonderful range of flowers, trees and shrubs, it is a delight to wander around.

I was interested to see many of the plants here that I have in my own garden!

Before leaving we made sure we sampled the delicious cakes on offer in the tearoom ~ would you expect anything less?! I liked the quirky touch of the plates all being botanically themed.

Happily the Institute has recently been awarded £100,000 of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which will help it to open its doors more frequently to local people and to expand the education programme. Great news as this is a real gem of South London!

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