4 Gardens In London To Visit This Summer
Looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the inner city without uprooting your family? London has long been famed for its green spaces. It’s just one of those things we do really well.
Thanks to the efforts of conservationists, vast swathes of the city have been protected from unsightly development. Nowhere is this more apparent than our parks and gardens; vestiges of a distant past.
You may have read the scathing attacks on the Walkie Talkie’s sky garden—which was more akin to a hotel lobby in a steel cage than a proper green space. Well, we’ll be looking decidedly to the past for inspiration. Modern architects just haven’t been able to capture the tranquility of London’s centuries-old parks and gardens.
Keeping within the confines of the M25, let’s find out what this city has to offer. Thanks to the constant influx of businesses and tourists from the around the world, London is a well-polished spectacle. Consistent renovations and improvements have kept us one of the prettiest cities, with the cleanest, tidiest green spaces around.
Don’t let anyone tell you that enjoying nature’s bounty means 5 hours on the motorway or 3 hours in a departure lounge. It’s all right here:
1. Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens could be the most quintessentially British green space. Although not quite free, access to Kew is well within the budget of your average horticulturalist. Boasting an untold wealth of flora, visitors come from across the globe to see a collection of natural life that’s been growing since 1759.
Deeply tied into our colonial past, the trappings of Britain’s seafaring adventures can be found in a number of vast greenhouses around the gardens. Very few places in London can give guests the experience of arid desert heat like a spell in the Cactus House.
For those looking to unwind, strolling between houses lets one soak in the manicured flower beds. Perfectly tended to and aligned with the garden’s overall layout, Kew leads people through the experience with winding paths, topiary and any number of excellent cafes and restaurants. It goes without saying that children are well catered for.
2. Kyoto Japanese Garden
Nested in Holland Park, the Kyoto Japanese Garden lives up to its name. Featuring a rocky waterfall, carp, peacocks and blossom trees, this slice of Japan can be found in one of London’s most affluent, attractive areas.
Donated by the Chamber of Commerce of Kyoto, the garden was a gift to celebrate London’s Japan Festival in 1992—replete with sumo wrestling in the Royal Albert Hall. Being such a recent addition, the authenticity of design should come as no surprise. While modern, it perfectly compliments the traditional aesthetic of Holland Park.
At several points in the garden, guests are totally immersed. With few glimpses of the outside world, the Kyoto Garden is a rare home-from-home for London’s Japanese diaspora (and a fair share of stressed out businessmen looking for stillness).
Source: Herry Lawford
3. Chiswick House Gardens
Famous among architects, the actual house is one of the best examples of British Neo-Palladianism. Created by Lord Burlington in 1729, it’s easy to see the influence of Italian classicism in the area.
Walking between the white stone statues of the grounds as you make your way up to this imposing building, it’s easy to get lost in the atmosphere. Chiswick House was recently renovated in 2010, making it one of the best kept gardens in London.
With its Roman inspiration, Burlington tried to move away from the gothic style. For grounds that have become synonymous with quaint Englishness, at the time they were a distinctively foreign affair.
With top notch food, plenty of grass, the occasional Neo-Palladian gateway and majestic, exotic trees, Chiswick House is one of the more unique gardens in London.
Source: Matt Brown
4. Myddelton House Gardens
If you’re looking for a garden that blends history and beauty, Myddleton House is as perfect as they come. Established by esteemed horticulturalist Edward Augustus Bowles in the 19th century, the 8 acre grounds are home to a dazzling array of plants and shrubs from far flung places.
The ideal Victorian garden, Myddleton House is complete with a conservatory and carp lake. Just what makes things so scenic?
Blending the refined with the organic, these open and airy grounds are inviting to both serious gardeners and day-trippers. Provided you don’t mind close encounters with the M25, the more adventurous Londoner will be rewarded with the tranquility and beauty of the eclectic Victorian gardening tradition.
Source: Rictor Norton & David Allen
Although local parks are enjoying something of a heydey, there’s nothing like stumbling across a true gem with your family. With free spaces for the children, natural splendour for the adults and food/drinks for everyone else, London’s gardens are among the best in the world.
Accessible by car or train, there’s no excuse not the capitalise on the summer weather. Take your loved ones somewhere memorable without breaking the bank.