School Visits

An exciting educational opportunity outside of the classroom, offering not only curriculum based activities but the discovery of how plants help keep us healthy, as well as an opportunity for children to safely run around in the fresh air. We believe the Physic Garden provides a secure, stimulating and enriching environment to learn in.

  • “Thank you so much for organising a wonderful event for us at Dilston. We had such a fantastic time, with all of the children talking about it on their return and parental feedback has been amazing too.I very much appreciate the effort you made to link it to our novel and the children were excited to make connections and have references made to what they have read. We would definitely recommend it to others and would love to visit again next year.” Year 1 & 2 Teacher, Corbridge Middle School.
  • All the children thoroughly enjoyed themselves and the activities linked in really well with our curriculum work. A special thank you to Davina for planning and leading some brilliant activities and to Elaine for telling the children interesting and magical tales about some of the unusual plants found in the garden. We will certainly visit again! Thanks again for such a wonderful day!” Year 1 & 2 Teacher, Allendale Primary School.

“As children observe, reflect, record, and share natures patterns and rhythms, they are participating in a process that promotes scientific and ecological awareness, problem solving, and creativity.” Deb Matthews Hensley, early childhood consultant.

‘Future consideration should be given to including more explicit recommendations about their [medicinal plants] place in a healthy diet. With time, we can expect to see a greater body of scientific evidence supporting the benefits of herbs and spices in the overall maintenance of health and protection from disease.’ Tapsell et al, 2006

Bookings for school visits can be made for Mondays to Fridays during school hours. Visits can be for a whole day (typically 10am-2.30pm) or for a half day (10am-12pm/ 12.30pm-2.30pm). The cost is £3 per person plus activity costs (usually £50 dependant on requirements) – this will usually be our education trustee Davina Hopkinson who is a Medical Herbalist and member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists. There would also be an appropriate cost for additional materials if required. Lunches can be eaten in our ‘Herbology House’ or on fine days, outdoors in the physic garden medicinal meadow. For further information or to book a visit email

For schools visiting independently, without activities, on a day when the garden is open to the public (Wednesdays and Saturdays), the cost is £3 per person.  Here your group can wander and explore the physic garden without a tour or activity – there is plenty of information to read on the signboards for each plant in the physic garden. (A visit on any other day when the garden is closed to the public costs £3 per person plus a charge (usually £30 dependant on length) for a member of staff.)

We are confidant that we can provide you and your class with a unique, valuable, affordable and health-giving educational experience.

Be inspired at Dilston Physic Garden – what Dilston offers

  • Plant Life at the Physic Garden provides a wealth of information on plant life, where children can further their investigations into specialisations for plant survival, plant structure and life-cycles by using living, growing examples. See the link between insects and the pollination of plants by watching a variety of insects and bees working in the garden.
  • Ground-breaking Medicine give explanations of why plants produce bioactive ingredients (to protect themselves) and how these give us some of our key medicines used by doctors today, like aspirin (willow), morphine (poppy), the heart drug digitalis (foxglove) and anticancer drug taxol (yew).
  • Art in Nature is an opportunity for children to spend time with the plants  and record their observations of plant structures through drawing or just let their creative juices flow and take inspiration from Dilston’s unique landscape overgrown and brimming with medicinal plants.
  • Sensory Herb Experience is a favourite to let children use their 5 senses to help them discover more about the plants around them and about how there’s science behind scents that can even help give the brain a boost.
  • Plant Healing demonstrates how The Physic Garden as an ideal place to introduce children to the tradition of plant medicine – an important and fascinating part of our medical history, but also our future. Learn how we healed ourselves before the introduction of modern drugs – see themes below.
  • Plant Medicine is a popular day finding out how to recognise some local common medicinal plants and then learn how to use them as medicine by making simple safe remedies like teas, herbal honeys, healing salves, lip balms and poultices.
  • Tasty Plants looks a garden full of tasty culinary herbs which have medicinal properties too. Take this opportunity to appreciate not only the medicinal value of plants but also how they can help in providing a delicious, healthy and protective diet through making some simple fresh healthy foods using herbs that the children gather in the physic garden.
  • Professor’s Tour is a fascinating Physic Garden tour by Elaine Perry, the curator of the physic garden, where she will talk about “magic & medicine” linking the old uses of herbs and plants and the old folk tales with our use of these plants today in science and medicine.

A “Herbology House” is where children work and enjoy activities inside.

Scavenger Hunts and Quizzes

We incorporate quizzes, scavenger/treasure hunts which take the children through all of the physic garden. They can be very general covering plants, medicine, history and statues or they can be themed to “Herbal First Aid”, “Harry Potter” or “The Plague” for example.

Through the use of our educational trails children can search and find out about :

• medicinal plant knowledge
• general knowledge
• general plant and animal knowledge
• global gardens
• school gardening club
• general “plants”
• historical context
• scientific context
• human health context

*all encompassing safe knowledge on plant use and awareness of poisonous plants


Examples of themes for Plant Healing include:

In Anglo Saxon Medicine delve into the old herbal manuscripts from 1000 years ago and discover the links between the old recipes and charms and our modern use of the plants.

In Tudor Medicine see how Doctors, Apothecaries and Wise Women used the plants around them and learn more about these 3 different approaches to healing.

In The Plague discover how plants were used in the fight against this disease and how these same plants are shown to kill microbes today.

“Firstly thanks for last Friday. We all loved it. I’ve got some of the girls to write some bits.


 One of the things I absolutely loved were all of the colours of the herbs and the smells.

 I would recommend Dilston to my grandma because she loves gardens.

 I enjoyed getting our wands because it just had a magical feeling.

 I would love to go back because I want to make more ointments!

Dear Davina, I really enjoyed Dilston Physic garden because we got the opportunity to eat certain herbs and seeds, we also had an amazing time making the healing ointment.

We learnt a lot of facts and stories about the plants. I never knew about ‘Bella Donna’.

I loved hearing all of the different stories. I think my granny would love it there. She does crystal balls. If you believe in magic – it’s the perfect place for YOU!!

Thanks again and please pass on our gratitude to Elaine too.” 

Year 5 Class, Newcastle Girls’ High School

Thank you for a successful and informative trip to the Physic Garden. All the children thoroughly enjoyed themselves and the activities linked in really well with our curriculum work. A special thank you to Davina for planning and leading some brilliant activities and to Elaine for telling the children interesting and magical tales about some of the unusual plants found in the garden.

We will certainly visit again! Thanks again for such a wonderful day!

Thanks again for a lovely session this morning, we all really enjoyed it and I certainly think it would be a valuable way for school groups to explore a physic garden. We use herbs and essential oils at home, but the kids learned many new things – and so did I! The story/hunt was a nice way for the children to pick up the practical uses of the plants.

“Sorry I haven’t been in touch for a few weeks but I wanted to let you know we had an absolutely amazing time. I am trying to get permission for you to use the photographs for the garden as they are brilliant!”

“Just to say thanks for having us on Monday. The class had a great time.”

“The children attending Little Tinklers Nursery have enjoyed visiting Dilston Physic Garden as part of our theme ‘Outdoor Fun’.  The physic garden provides a wonderful experience to the outdoors / plants / insects as well as interesting sculptures, hands on activities and knowledgeable staff.  The interesting and exciting environments include a fragrant chamomile lawn, a fruit orchard and lots of information on the medicinal properties of the many and varied plants and shrubs, as well as a host of insects including bees and butterflies.  Fun, physical activities and open space allow for a picnic area, pond life, watering shrubs, games such as quoits, balls and water fun with many educational opportunities. The children thoroughly enjoy their visits as do the staff.”

“Thank you for a successful and informative trip to the Physic Garden. All the children thoroughly enjoyed themselves and the activities linked in really well with our curriculum work. A special thank you to Davina for planning and leading some brilliant activities and to Elaine for telling the children interesting and magical tales about some of the unusual plants found in the garden. We will certainly visit again! Thanks again for such a wonderful day!”

“We really enjoyed our visit to the garden and received a very warm welcome. The talk was fantastic and the children loved the hands on activities and practical tasks. The little mats for the children to sit on and garden chairs for the adults were very thoughtful. The talk was an excellent introduction to the garden and got the children interested and engaged. The range of activities, tea making and different experiences were really enjoyable for the children. The little tree house, gong and play area in the meadow were particularly popular and they enjoyed drawing the sculptures. All the visit went well and the children enjoyed the quiz. It was a great day out and a very positive experience for both adults and children.”

The children had a brilliant time from start to finish. There were four separate activities, which were well organised and aimed at an appropriate level for our children. The day began with a story telling based around the mystery and magic of plants. The children really enjoyed listening to these stories and finding the sculptures and plants that linked to each story.

We then spilt into three groups, which allowed us to explore the garden and take part in workshops. The herbal ointment and corial sessions was really interesting. The children were given the opportunity to create an ointment, looking carefully at each stage of the process. It was great to able to take the balm home – the children couldn’t wait to try it out!

The quiz gave the children the opportunity to explore every area of the garden, focusing on different plants and their uses. The environment allows children the freedom to explore safely, giving them them sense of being on an adventure.

Finally we took some time to study and draw some of the plants that are growing in the physic garden. There was such a variety the children didn’t know where to start!

Overall this is a brilliant setting for an educational visit which allows the children to learn lots about plants, while having the freedom to explore an discover independently.

“I believe in the benefits of children using herbs in the diet, where phytochemicals act as protective agents in much the same way as vitamins, and in the appropriate use of gentle effective herbs in young children with colds, fevers, sore throats, earaches etc., rather than for example NSAIDs and antibiotics” Davina Hopkinson, Medical Herbalist (member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists) and educational trustee at Dilston Physic Garden.

“We are now seeing science catch up! It is showing that a diet rich in herbs, prepared to retain their bioactive compounds, has immediate effects on brain signalling and longer term protective effects on the body and the brain such as controlling inflammation, oxidation and even protein deposits that accumulate in the ageing brain. Although long-term benefits await clinical trials, there is convincing scientific evidence that the Mediterranean diet, curry consumption and drinking fruit juice reduce cognitive decline in groups that consume them.” Dr Nicolette Perry, Science director Dilston Physic Garden.

Hyperactivityconcentration difficulties and impulsiveness improve during seven weeks’ treatment with valerian root and lemon balm extracts in primary school children.