Discover London’s best-kept secret gardens

When spring is truly at its peak there’s no better place to see nature at its best than London. That’s right, even among those sleek skyscrapers, nature still rules (and we’re not talking about garden giants like Kew or Hampton Court Palace). The city itself is sprinkled with idyllic pockets of green, that even most Londoners don’t know exist. Grab a one-day travel card and spend some time in some of London’s lesser-known gardens.


Find inner peace in Kyoto Garden

When it comes to creating tranquil spaces the Japanese are the masters, and, Kyoto Garden in Holland Park is definitely no exception. Traditionally explored clockwise, walk slowly to take in the wonderful display of colour and precision gardening, as everything has been planted for a particular symbolic reason. Huge Japanese maple trees create perfect reflections in the still water of the lake. Free-roaming peacocks wander across expertly cut lawns, while bright orange koi carp dance underneath the three-tiered waterfall. You won’t find a leaf out of place in this stunning oasis of peace and serenity.

Nearest tube: Holland Park.

Free and open daily, from 7.30am until 30 minutes before dusk.


Bask in untamed beauty at St. Dunstan-in-the-East

This gothic church was originally built in 1100 and has since led a misfortunate life. Burnt down during The Great Fire of London, it was re-built over many years (with the addition of a steeple by Christopher Wren), only to be flattened again during the Blitz. What remains forms a hauntingly beautiful backdrop to this stunningly romantic garden. A cascading mass of climbing plants, weave themselves up the ruined walls of the church. While an innovative use of shrubs and plants helps make this a garden of extraordinarily wild beauty, like something out of the Brontë sisters’ imaginations.

Nearest tube: Cannon Street or Bank.

Free and open daily, from 10am – 5pm, all year around (apart from Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day).


Learn something new in Chelsea Physic Garden

Built in 1673, this garden was originally an apothecaries’ garden, where apprentices could grow and study plants for medicinal purposes. Now, as London’s oldest botanical garden, their research continues, still surrounded by the same beautiful brick walls as always.

There are over 5,000 species of plants within those walls, from edible ones to those used for pharmaceutical purposes. Plus, there is a fascinating range of walks, talks and workshops; learn how to keep bees, make your own perfume or even grow a bonsai tree. Just visit their website to find out what’s on.

Nearest tube: Sloane Square, then it’s a 10-15 minute walk. Buses stop directly at the entrance.

Open from Tuesday to Friday and Sundays from 11am to 6pm. Sadly, it’s not free to get in, but it’s definitely worth the money. Tickets are £9.90 per person and free for children under 5 years-old.


Go off the beaten garden path

The Open Garden Squares Weekend sees over 200 London gardens opening their gates to the public. Take a peek around some of the capital’s most famous (and secret) gardens; from historic private squares to modern roof gardens. If you’re lucky, you might even get to have a nose around the gardens at 10 Downing Street.

Date: 13th – 14th June, 2015

For tickets visit their website.


Let’s hope the sun is out, the flowers are blooming, and it is really a great weekend to visit some of London’s lesser-known gardens. We would love the hear about other noteworthy gardens outside of London. Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.


Image Credit:

Image 1: Londonist

Image 2: Flickr EZTD

Image 3: Moosey’s Country Garden



  1. Tara -

    St Dunstan-in-the-East looks EXQUISITE.
    I would have thought there would have been more “secret gardens” than this, tho…


  2. Sarah Williams -

    Hi Tara,

    Indeed, St. Dunstan-in-the-East is an amazing park.

    And you are right, London has more ‘secret gardens’.
    Make sure you keep up to date with the blog, we will have a part 2 coming very soon.

    The Bridgman Team

  3. jerry slater -

    Thanks for article – always on the look out for these ‘secret’ gardens. Looks like there may be a few Kyoto Gardens around – There is also a lovely Kyoto garden in Lauriston Castle in Edinburgh. Could the author do a piece on Edinburgh and its own hidden away gems?

    1. Sarah Williams -

      Hi Jerry,

      Thank you for your comment.

      We will write another one for the whole of the UK, including specific gardens in Edinburgh.
      So, do not forget to keep an eye on the blog.

      If you have any other suggestions, we would love to hear from you.

      The Bridgman Team

  4. Stefan Daniel -

    What a lovely article, beautifully illustrated. Next time I’m in London I must look round them all and the Open Garden Squares Week-end sounds great. Physic gardens with medicinal plants have played a key part in the history of gardens, the ones in Edinburgh (“The Lost Physic Gardens of Edinburgh”) eventually occupying larger and larger sites until becoming the Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh, one of the world’s key academic gardens. And a book has been written on “The Lost Gardens of Glasgow University (A D Boney, 1988). So, no prizes for guessing what part of the UK I’m from ! But would the author, whose style is engaging, please do more articles on this subject. A collection of them could make a worthwhile book.

  5. Nikki -

    Oooo, visiting London in May and got 5 hours to kill between appointments. Know where I will be heading for some quiet chill time. Thanks for this. In London often and will seek them out!

  6. Sarah Williams -

    Hi Stefan,

    Thank you!
    Hope you will enjoy these gardens when you are visiting London.
    We will definitely do more articles on this subject, make sure to keep up to date with our blog.
    Looking forward to your comments on our future posts.

    The Bridgman Team

  7. Sarah Williams -

    Hi Nikki,

    I am sure you will enjoy London’s secret gardens during your five hours to kill.

    The Bridgman Team

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