Saturday, June 19, 2010

Photo Essay: The Herb Garden

The Herb Garden, sounds so much like the title of a Victorian novel eh? But the Herb Garden in this case has a particular history that all humankind has to be thankful for. The story behind this herb garden relates to the Worshipful Company of Barbers. The company of Barbers was originally set up to form a guild of barbers. Barbers were important to keep your hair under control. But there was a crucial leap of faith, since the barbers were accustomed to playing around with sharp instruments, it was assumed that they would be able to look after the health of the customers as well. So they would assist in doing surgery, dentistry and provide medicines for the ailments from the middle ages onwards. Then later on, the surgery bit got diverted into its own guild of Surgeons and now the Company of Barbers has hardly anything to do with hair at all. Mainly it has charitable activities as its primary mission.

But there is a fascinating herb garden just behind the hall of the Worshipful Company of Barbers. While walking around checking the London Wall, I came across this lovely hidden treasure. The light was horrible, it was chucking down with rain, the ground was horribly wet, just disgusting. But still, as usual, loads of pictures, check out the slideshow for high resolution photographs.

This garden was actually made in an area which was originally a bastion within the old Roman Fort London Defensive wall where a giant catapult was placed. The garden layout is as follows:
This link will give you more details on the plants.

On the left, you have Feverfew, used to treat fevers and headaches. On the right, you have Meadow Saffron used for gout.
I am sure you will recognise the left hand side plant, its opium poppy, used for pain relief. On the right, you have parsley used to help with toothache.
Camomile, used for toothache, earache and for nervous afflictions! :). On the right, we have Stonecrop used to treat intestinal worms and haemorrhoids.
I didn't know this, on the left is Meadowsweet. They found Salicylic Acid in this plant and from here they made Aspirin. Fascinating. On the right, you have Lavender used for rheumatism, toothache and fainting spells. Oil of lavender was used as an insecticide.
Daffodil on the left, I didn't know that the daffodil bulbs contain a drug used to treat Alzheimer. On the right, we have Camellia x williamsii which contains theophylline used to treat asthma. Ok, enough already, I think you have pretty much fallen asleep by now. It's a shame that the weather was so bad and there was no good light. Also, it's still winter and the plants really haven't come up that well. Ah! well.

A beautiful staircase which steps up from the herb garden to the balcony which then leads into the Company Hall. But that is not what I found interesting. I stood back and looked at these plants. This tiny garden encapsulates centuries of human ingenuity and research into trying to find solutions to fix medical problems, to improve the health of citizens and to alleviate pain and suffering. What we have right now in our pharmacies, in our hospitals and surgeries is heavily dependent upon what you guys did, truly, we all stand on the shoulders of giants.

No comments: