London’s lofty views and dizzying skyscrapers are at the peak of urban development, but for those in need of a rural retreat, this city also happens to be home to some beautiful gardens. With spring just around the corner, stay with us at one of our central London hotels and you’ll be within walking distance of any number of green spaces. Take a look at our favourite secret gardens in London and start planning your spring getaway.
Who would have thought there was a quiet zen to be found in Kensington? London’s finest offering of Japanese serenity is tucked away in Holland Park, in the Kyoto Gardens. Originally built to celebrate London’s Japan festival in 1992, today there are roaming peacocks, a peaceful waterfall and tranquil ponds. It’s also home to a school of koi carp.
Stretching the definition of a garden slightly, this giant greenhouse is a wonderful oasis in the centre of the city. Rising up out of the concrete maze that makes up the Barbican Centre, the Barbican Conservatory contains over 2,000 species of exotic plants, as well as finches, quails and fish. The tropical surrounds have made it a popular venue for high-profile events but it’s open to the public every Sunday.
The Roof Gardens
Located 100ft above ground level, part of the appeal of The Roof Gardens lies in its ability to stay out of sight, even in the heart of Kensington. Take the time to wander through the Tudor Garden clad in roses and ivy before making your way over to the Spanish Garden with its picturesque vines and fountains. But our favourite of these secret gardens in London has to be the spectacular English Woodland Garden, which even accommodates the four resident flamingos.
St Dunstan in the East
Between Monument and Bank station is one of the more Gothic secret gardens in London, set in the ruins of a Wren Church. As well as housing a Grade I listed building, St Dunstan in the East has some of the most exotic plants and flowers in London – Moroccan Broom and New Zealand Flax thrive all year round and in the springtime Japanese snowball blossoms near the ornate fountain.
Hidden away in Richmond Park is the Isabella Plantation, a 40-acre woodland garden that looks like its been lifted from the pages of a fairy tale. With an abundance of evergreen pink and purple azaleas, sparkling ponds and soothing streams, this is surely one of the most beautiful gardens in London. Butterflies, beetles and bats all make their home here amongst the foliage, but before visiting make sure to check the monthly changing plant diary to see what’s in bloom.
The Phoenix Garden
Behind the bright lights of London’s West End you’ll find The Phoenix Garden, a small pocket of greenery tucked away in one of the busiest areas of the city. Designed to be in flower all year round, you’ll find a wide variety of plants here, as well as plenty of frogs. The garden is maintained using only sustainable techniques, and is a registered ‘dry’ garden, meaning there’s no watering allowed.
Mount St Gardens
In the hustle and bustle of Mayfair, Mount St Gardens feels like an oasis for weary shoppers. The perfect place for a pit stop, there are plenty of benches arranged around manicured ornamental beds and formal lawns, and a lovely little bird bath and bird identification panel for a bit of urban twitching.