If you’ve had enough of Hyde Park or just want to escape the places where someone has taken their incontinent dog, Culture Trip has compiled a list of varying ‘Secret Gardens’ to show off the whole spectrum of London. From the picturesque and historical, to the functional and socially beneficial, here are places to go on your lunch break or for a London adventure.
It is strange to think how few people who frequent Hampstead Heath have actually been to the Pergola. It is the product of the efforts of Lord Leverhulme, a wealthy arts-lover who purchased the land in 1904 and had fulfilled his fantastical vision by 1911. After falling into dilapidation during the Second World War and subsequent years, the City of London Corporation embarked on the Pergola’s restoration in 1989 and the LCC continue to keep Lord Leverhulme’s dream alive. Astonishing neo-Classical architecture merges seamlessly into the foliage of one of London’s leafier suburbs. Head on up to the West Heath to find it.
Open only on Sundays from 11am-5pm, the Barbican conservatory is London’s second largest collection of plants and trees after Kew Gardens, with 2000 species on show. As well as being far more convenient to get to than Kew, the tropical oasis in the nerve-centre of Britain’s financial capital opened in 1984, and its glass walls and architecture reflect the notable style of the Barbican as a whole. When not open to the public, the Conservatory plays host to private functions. Take care when trying to find the conservatory, since the Barbican is notoriously difficult to navigate, so it might be worth latching onto someone who gives the impression of knowing their way around.
Guerrilla Gardens is not ‘secret’ in the same sense that all the other gardens on this list are. They are not hidden, nor they are not out of the way – they are just in places you might not expect. Richard Reynolds, blogger on guerrillagardening.org, really is the poster boy for this vigilante gardening movement, whose weapons are trowels and compost. In potholes, roundabouts, and neglected open spaces all around London, Reynolds started to ‘illegally’ garden around his benighted base in Elephant and Castle over a decade ago. His following has grown and grown and many people have followed suit by setting up their own ‘Guerrilla Gardens’. Keep an eye out for them or follow blogs such as The Pothole Gardener. If you can’t find a garden to your liking, follow Reynolds’s and Guerrilla Gardening’s example and go and create your own.
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