London's horticultural heritage

London’s historical horticultural addresses

Discover where some of London's key horticultural heroes and heroines lived

 7 Wellclose Square
Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward was the inventor of the Wardian Case, now known as the terrarium, which revolutionised the movement of live plants around the globe. He invented the case after he tried to grow ferns in his home garden in Wellclose Square, but in the early 19th century, the air in the East End was so thick with coal soot that all attempts to grow the ferns in his garden proved futile. You can read about what happened next here. Wellclose square has long since been demolished but, there are many other addresses across the city that have played their part in shaping horticultural history that can still be seen today.

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49 Kew Green, Kew
Home to Sir William Hooker (1785-1865) and his son Sir Joseph Hooker (1817-1911). Both were botanists and were respectively the first and second directors of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Sir William was a friend of Ward’s.

London's horticultural heritage
© Rebecca Lea Williams

Bedford House, Acton Green
The plant hunter, orchidologist and author John Lindley (1799-1865) lived here from 1836 until his death. Lindley was the director of the Chelsea Physic Garden and the first professor of botany at the University of London.

9 Gilston Road, Chelsea
Was home to the Victorian plant hunter Robert Fortune (1812- 1880) who used Ward’s closed cases to smuggle tea plants out of China in 1848 to break China’s tea monopoly.

London's horticultural heritage
© Rebecca Lea Williams

182 Ebury Street, Belgravia
The novelist Vita Sackville-West (1892-1962) and her husband Harold Nicolson (1886-1968) lived here before creating their famous garden at Sissinghurst.

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54 Broadwick Street, Soho
The landscape gardener Charles Bridgeman (1690-1738), who helped to pioneer the naturalistic landscape style, spent the final 15 years of his life at this address.