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 1: Londonist
Image 2: Flickr EZTD
Image 3: Moosey’s Country Garden