Hidden behind an enclosure on a Bethnal Green housing estate is the Bethnal Green Nature Reserve, a haven of peace and tranquility, a wild garden in the city. Within this garden is a meadow of ‘weeds’ this is Phytology, a multidisciplinary project celebrating the medicinal and nutritional value of the often overlooked common weeds native to this country.
Visitors are invited to explore the site and harvest these plants for their own use, artists are invited depict the plants in their own way. So far illustrator Talya Baldwin has produced ball-point pen botanic illustrations and street artist Vhils has produced a site based carving. Children’ creative writing group Ministry of stories are developing a series of themed workshops around the meadow and The Nest Collective take over the garden for a campfire folk session.
Boasting 32 different species of plants, all with distinctive uses, Phytology encourages people to share knowledge about the value of these plants and volunteers swap recipes and cures during the 2 days that the site is open (Friday and Saturday)
Listen to an interview with Australian film-maker and photographer Michael Smythe and instigator of the Phytology project:
Site address: Middleton Street, Bethnal Green, E2 9RR
Opening hours: Friday & Saturday 10am-5pm
Phytology is a Nomad and Cape Farewell project. Supported by the Wellcome Trust and Arts Council England. It is a partnership with the Teesdale and Hollybush Tenants and Residents Association, whose dedicated management of the Reserve has protected and developed it.