In 2004 the treasurer of the RCP, Sir Richard Thompson, proposed a new garden on the site. Mark Griffiths designed, sourced and planted it over the period 2005-6, with generous sponsorship from the Wolfson Foundation.
The garden now contains around 1,100 different species that are used, or have been used, in medicine during the past five millennia, and plants which commemorate physicians. Many of these plants have no medical use but, like the ancient books in the RCP library, record the beliefs and practices of past ages and cultures. This is not a garden set out to be merely decorative. Despite its calm beauty, its fascination lies in its plants, in their uses and their dangers, the history and the folklore surrounding them, and even in their names and the influence they have had on the English language. All the plants are labelled, and those named after physicians have brief biographies on blue labels, those which produce modern medicines have information on green labels.
This book takes you on a tour of the garden, with notes on 60 of the plants it contains.