School and college educational visits

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). Lunches can be eaten in our “Herbology House” or, on fine days, outdoors in the garden. For further information or to book a visit email

For Schools visiting independently on a day when the garden is open to the public (Wednesdays and Saturdays), the cost is £3 per person.  This means that if you prefer, your group can wander and explore the physic garden without a tour – 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 will cost £3 per person plus a charge (usually £40-50 dependant on requirements) for a member of staff – this will usually be our education officer 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.

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

Be inspired at physic garden – what Dilston offers

  •  An exciting educational opportunity outside of the classroom, offering not only curriculum based activities but also an opportunity for children to run around in the fresh air. We believe the Physic Garden provides a secure, stimulating and enriching environment to learn in and help provide an alternative route to achieving the Every Child Matters outcomes of enjoying and achieving, staying safe and being healthy.
  • The potential for creating lasting partnerships with your school with year on year age relevant information on health awareness and maintenance of a healthy body and a happy brain.
  • An introduction to the historical tradition of plant medicine through making safe and simple health boosting and protective remedies (teas, salves, poultices, vinegars, pills & lozenges) and storytelling.
  • A wealth of plant life providing examples of the many specialisations for survival that plants have – including pollination, seed formation, germination, seed dispersal, growth, nutrition and growing and environmental conditions.
  • Explanations of why plants produce bioactive ingredients (to protect themselves) and including where some of our key medicines used by doctors today come from, like aspirin (willow), morphine (poppy) and the heart drug digitalis (foxglove).
  • An opportunity to appreciate not only the medicinal value of plants but also how they can help provide a tasty and healthy and protective diet through making some simple fresh healthy foods using herbs that they can gather in the garden.
  • We can create personalised workshops that can extend, enhance and compliment curriculum learning. We have hosted global gardens, school gardening clubs, special needs groups, potion making, perfume making and general plant themed sessions.
  • Fun educational activities include botanic artwork, planting, herbal treasure hunts, scavenger hunts, quiz trails and stories of history and folklore.
  • A “Herbology House” where children can work and enjoy activities inside.

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!

Year 1 & 2 teacherAllendale Primary School

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.

C.B. Sunderland August 2012

“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!”

Reception Teacher, St. Cuthbuert’s School, Newcastle upon Tyne

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

Year 5 Teacher, St. John’s School, Newcastle upon Tyne

“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.”

J.C. Team Leader (3-5year olds), Little Tinklers Nursery

“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!”

Year 1 & 2 Teacher, Allendale Primary School, September 2014

“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.”

Year 3 Teacher, Prudhoe First School, July 2014

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.

Year 1 Dame Allen’s School 2017

Treasure Hunt

Through the use of our educational Treasure Hunts, Scavenger Hunts and Quiz 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 include:

• Exploring how the Romans used plants as medicines.
• Identifying plants, drawing them and writing about them.
• Smelling various scents, identifying medicinal plants, perfume making, making poultices, and preparing ointments and ‘potion’ making.
• Planting and growing, giving the opportunity for children to be involved in the planting and care of a children’s community space that is a mixture of herbs and vegetables.

“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 the scientific evidence showing that a diet rich in herbs, prepared to retain their bioactive compounds, has immediate effects on brain signalling and longer term protective effects 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 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.