London’s hidden gems – Its secret gardens

London is one of the greenest European capitals in Europe and the world. With more than 300 parks and gardens many of them private, it is a nature lover’s paradise. Apart from its famous eight Royal Parks there are plenty of other green open spaces to escape the mad rush of city life in London.

Step out of any of the London City Suites and you are sure to find a garden or a park in the vicinity. Spring and summer are the best seasons to explore the abundance of natural beauty found in London.

Some of the lesser known hidden green spots in London are:
The Barbican Conservatory: Just about 200 metres from The Montcalm Brewery Hotel on Chiswell Street London is the Barbican Conservatory that only open on Sundays (11-5pm). After Kew Gardens it is houses the second biggest collection of trees and plants with about 2000 species.  It is a fabulous place to visit and explore with its unique architecture and glass walls. Getting to the conservatory may pose a bit of a challenge as navigating the Barbican Centre is no easy task.

Chelsea Physic Garden: Another lovely garden in the city of London is Chelsea Physic Garden that is popular with locals and nature lovers in the city. The Worshipful Society of Apothecaries created this garden in 1673, for their students to learn about the medicinal properties of various plants. This later gained status as one of the top botanical centres in the world. Visitors can explore its stunning grounds that are home to a variety of flowers and plants.

Coutts Garden: A visit to the Coutts Garden offers visitors the most incredible views over Nelson’s Column, St. Martin-in-the-Fields and other attractions. Coutts Garden is the creation of master chef Peter Fiori, with the garden growing a variety of herbs, flowers, vegetables and fruits all of which are organically grown. Designed by Richard Vine, the place was built with funds from the Clink Charity.  The garden is located on a roof and is located on both sides of a walkway with tubs and troughs skilfully placed between window bays. The garden has four sections: A kitchen garden, Vine Lane, a cottage garden and a fruit garden in the south.

College Garden: Located in Westminster Abbey it is a short stroll from Westminster Palace. It is one of those rare places that are visible yet unseen and is a must to visit if you take a tour of Westminster Abbey. What makes the garden all the more unique is that despite its location in one of the busier sections in the heart of the city, hardly any sounds filter into the garden! It is a tranquil retreat from the noise and crowds of the city. Ideal to visit in summer or spring its shaded glades offer a delightful retreat from the throngs of crowds milling about Parliament Square. With a number of benches placed in the garden area it is a relaxing place to just sit and admire the stunning architecture all around it. If you have bought a ticket to tour the Abbey entrance is free and it generally admits visitors between 10am-4pm.

Inner Temple Gardens: The Gardens are located towards the north of the embankment and spread over three acres within Inner Temple. The gardens open to the public between 12:30-3:00 pm on weekdays. The garden is as old as Inner Temple Court established in the fourteenth century.  The gardens have changed with times with its access to the Thames disrupted due to the building of the Victoria Embankment. It is a popular spot for office goers in the area who drop in at the gardens for a relaxed lunch break. With plenty of trees and beautiful flowers adorning the gardens it is as lovely a garden as one can expect.

The Pergola: If you in the Hampstead Heath area a visit to the Pergola is a must, considering the many people who visit the area. Lord Leverhulme, a connoisseur of the arts had it built. He bought the land in 1904 and the garden completed in 1911. The period during the Second World War and the later years saw the place fall into ruin due to apathy and neglect. In 1989, the City of London Corporation decided to get the garden restored and helped to maintain the place. Located in one of the more verdant areas of the city its neo-classical style architecture is worth admiring and exploring.

King Henry’s Garden: What was once Kind Henry’s Garden became derelict due to neglect! It was only due to the dedication and efforts of volunteers that it underwent a transformation and is now a stunning organic garden. Residents of the area grow flowers, vegetables and fruits in the garden. Located in Islington there also is a small patch of woodland reserved as a habitat for wildlife. The garden was developed in a planned manner with the objective of attracting insects and promoting biodiversity. The garden is fully self-sustainable and waste from the garden is recycled and used as compost. There is a specially built area for harvesting rainwater and distributing it to different sections of the garden. Even the beds and pathways are built from recycled material.

The Natural History Museum Garden: Not many are aware that the Natural History Museum is home to a wildlife garden as well that is accessible to the public. It lies in a concealed corner of the museum with the area home to more than 2000 types of fauna and flora. With scenic trails and beautiful ponds it is a lovely garden to explore on a visit to the museum.

These are just a select few gardens found in London. There are plenty more concealed green areas worth exploring on a trip to London!

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