Britain is said to be a nation of green thumbs, so it’s no surprise that London is home to a wide range of truly stunning gardens. From internationally renowned botanic heavyweights to undiscovered corners of blossoming beauty, we’ve sheared away the stray branches to pick our top five London gardens.
Founded in 1673 by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries, this little-known sanctuary is London’s oldest botanic garden. Numerous species of birds like the grey heron and great spotted woodpecker can be seen here, partly thanks to the nearby river Thames, and the ponds are a habitat for insects such as dragonflies and water beetles. After its winter closure, the garden is now open.
The restored walled garden of this Jacobean house was opened in 2006 as the Peace Garden in association with Amnesty International. Designed around the theme of harmony, with cool, neutral colors throughout, the garden contains thousands of donated plants and is a relaxing place for a stroll. The sculpture at the garden’s center is Portage, by Margaret Higginson, and represents the strength and spirit of women worldwide.
Kyoto Japanese Garden, Holland Park
Built to celebrate the Japan Festival in 1992, this formal Japanese garden is quietly beautiful — and one of London’s best-kept secrets. Water plays a central role here; there’s a gentle waterfall and a large, placid pond home to dozens of koi.
Self-taught gardener Edward Augustus Bowles lived in this house for almost 100 years and created a truly stunning garden around it. Discover quirky plants such as corkscrew hazel and Plymouth strawberry in the Lunatic Asylum, enjoy colorful spring crocuses, and explore the Victorian Glasshouse Range, opened just last year, which has four different climatic zones. Don’t hesitate for a visit — the 111-year-old wisteria blooms a brilliant blue in May.
No list of London’s gardens is complete without Kew, and this must-see botanical paradise really looks its best this time of year. Walk along the Broad Walk, lined with sunny daffodils, and don’t miss the stunning carpet of fragrant purple bluebells in the Conservation area. You can also see the world’s largest Victorian greenhouse, the Temperate House. Act fast: This home to an international line-up of fascinating plants will close mid- to late summer for a major restoration project to be completed in May 2018.
Photos courtesy of Myddelton House Gardens