The Phytology medicinal garden was established at Bethnal Green Nature Reserve in 2014. The project explores the ideas of use, value & complexity of the modern urban landscape.

As urban populations grow and intensify globally, access to nature and complex ecosystems are increasingly fundamental to our individual and collective mental and physical wellbeing.

Over the past five years, the Phytology project has transformed a WW2 bombsite in East London into a cultural institute & community hub for research across the arts and sciences. The ‘projects’ page on this website present some of the many research outcomes over the past five years.

The physic garden is one of many site-specific installations developed within Phytology. The garden provides free food and medicine for local and surrounding communities. Generally regarded as weeds, the plants grown on site have been selected for their historic and on-going use in phytotherapy*, traditional and conventional medicine.

Visitors are invited to harvest from the garden with the support and guidance of the site team. The meadow grows in pollution-free soil to ensure our plants are safe from contamination and suitable for daily use.

Visit for more details.

* Phytotherapy is the study of the use of extracts of natural origin as medicines or health-promoting agents.

Opening Times

May – September 2019

By appointment


CF_LogoGreyScale  Phytology_supporters_450wide_02   NOMAD Projects logo JPEG

Phytology is a Nomad Projects commission.

Supported by the Wellcome Trust and Arts Council England.

Site credits: Design by Modern Activity, build by Patrick Best.

The Phytology Team

Michael Smythe

Michael Smythe studied photography, performance and art history at the Australian National University, Canberra and the Hochschule Der Kunste, Berlin, Germany. In 2009 Michael established Nomad Projects, a production & commissioning agency, which facilitates new dialogues between artist collaboration and exhibition in the public domain. Nomad Projects strive to support artists in exploring non-traditional working methods. Recent commissions include Ourhouse (5 part film series) by Nathaniel Mellors, Vision Quest (feature length documentary) by Marcus Coates and The Memory of W.T Stead (sound installation) by Cassie Yukawa, Lundhal & Setil.

Naseem Khan

Naseem has worked as both as an independent consultant and Senior Associate with Comedia. Her background is predominantly as an advisor for cultural strategy. Amongst others, she has worked for the V & A, Arts Council England, BBC, Moti Roti, Sound Sense, Centre for Contemporary Arts Nottingham, and most recently was part of a group that won funding from the Cultural Leadership Programme to debate and create a manifesto for socially-engaged arts.

Colin Nightingale

In 2002 Colin joined Punchdrunk, one of the UKs leading immersive theatre companies. Colin has helped to realise all major projects since Woyzeck (2004) including The Firebird Ball (2005), the awarding winning Faust (2006), The Masque of the Red Death (2007), Tunnel 228, in conjunction with Kevin Spacey and the Old Vic Theatre (2009) and the double award winning It Felt Like A Kiss at Manchester International Festival (2009). As Senior Producer Colin has managed the successful staging of the company’s first international project, Sleep No More (2010/11) Boston & New York City, USA.

Teesdale and Hollybush TRA

The Teesdale & Hollybush TRA is a voluntary community group based in the heart of Bethnal Green, East London. The TRA aims to promote social cohesion with environmental rejuvenation and sustainability improving the quality of life for the 320 homes and approximately 1,500 residents across the estate.

Over the last four years the community group have turned multiple areas of disused land into vibrant urban growing oases. These projects strive to bring the community together creating opportunities for residents on the estate to interact with each other regardless of ethnicity, culture, age or gender.

Dr. Peter Giovannini

Dr. Peter Giovannini is currently the International Projects Officer for Kew Royal Botanic Gardens. Between 2004 and 2011 he conducted ethnobotanical field research with indigenous peoples in Mexico, and the Bolivian and Ecuadorian Amazon. Peter has had his research published in academic journals and taught ethnobotany as Specialist Associate Lecturer at the University of Kent. Recently, he was part of a group of international experts that urged the development of a global program on the conservation of useful plants and associated knowledge.

Cape Farewell

Cape Farewell has, since 2001, been collaborating with the world’s leading climate scientists and our most influential artists to instigate a cultural response to climate change.

Cape Farewell maintains that climate change is a cultural, social and economic challenge that has to be moved beyond the scientific and abstract debates. By bringing together artists, scientists, communicators and cultural opinion formers they endeavour to develop creative ‘works’ that act as a catalyst for change. Using creativity to innovate, Cape Farewell engages artists, writers, poets, musicians and film makers for their ability to evolve and amplify a creative language, communicating – on an emotional level and on a human scale – the urgency of the global climate challenge.