Away from the bright lights of Canary Wharf and the concrete-clad boroughs of Westminster, The City and Mayfair, London is actually one of the greenest cities in the world. Aside from its famous leafy spaces — including Hyde Park, Regents Park and Greenwich Park — there are, in fact, more than 3,000 green spots to be explored in the capital. In that spirit, and with the promise of warmer weather on the horizon, we’ve scoured London to find five little-known green spaces that you might want to visit this month.
Kyoto Garden, Holland Park
Nearest tube: Holland Park or High Street Kensington
For a taste of Japanese tranquillity, head to the Kyoto Garden in Holland Park. A relaxed stroll among the tiered waterfalls, native maple trees and stone lanterns offers both tourists and locals the opportunity for quiet reflection despite being situated just a stone’s throw from Kensington High Street. The 22-hectare park itself is surrounded by the ruins of Holland House – once a grand abode that served as the home of diplomats until it was destroyed during the Blitz in the Second World War – and was rejuvenated in 1991 as a gift from the city of Kyoto to celebrate the friendship between Japan and Great Britain. The garden is also home to ponds of koi carp and a number of peacocks, which like to wander the serene landscape.
Holland Park Avenue, W11 4UA, visit rbkc.gov.uk
St Dunstan in the East Church Garden, The City
Nearest tube: Monument or Tower Hill
Tucked away between London Bridge and the Tower of London, St Dunstan in the East served its parishioners as a place of worship before it, too, was destroyed in the Blitz. The Wren’s tower and steeple survived the bombing and after it was decided that the church wouldn’t be rebuilt, work began to transform the space into a public garden. Today, the ruins resemble a green oasis divided by paved footpaths, large arches, benches and a fountain at the centre – the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
St Dunstan’s Hill, EC3R 5DD, visit cityoflondon.gov.uk
Hill Garden and Pergola, Hampstead
Nearest tube: Golders Green
Draped in a luscious green canopy and featuring elegant stone columns, the Hill Garden and Pergola was originally built in 1904 by wealthy artist and socialite, Lord Leverhulme, as a sun terrace for his Edwardian estate in order to host garden parties. Although the adjacent manor house has now been demolished, the pergola still overlooks West Heath and has been restored to its former glory by the City of London authority. It’s also a licensed wedding venue, perfect for couples looking for a small, intimate spot to tie the knot.
Inverforth Close, North End Way, NW3 7EX, visit cityoflondon.gov.uk
Isabella Plantation, Richmond
Nearest tube: Richmond
The bright pink flora of the Isabella Plantation is at its best in the spring and summer months, as the garden comes alive with vibrant colour against a backdrop of Victorian woodland, which was first planted in the 1830s. The plantation, located in Richmond Park, opened to the public in 1953 and has become a hotspot for gardening enthusiasts as it features an array of blooming azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias, which line the garden’s ponds and streams. Rare flowers and unusual shrubs are no stranger to the area either, as the National Collection of Wilson 50 Kurume Azaleas, which was introduced to the West from Japan in the 1920s by the plant collector Ernest Wilson, sits among the 40-acre plantation.
Richmond Park, TW10 5HS, visit royalparks.org.uk
Crossrail Place Roof Garden, Canary Wharf
Nearest tube: Canary Wharf
The sky-lit amphitheatre of the Crossrail Place Roof Garden is situated atop the Crossrail Station and is designed in accordance with its very special geographical location. The roof garden, one of the largest in London, sits almost exactly on the Meridian line so the plants have been arranged according to the hemisphere from which they originate, with Asian shrubs, such as bamboos, to the east, and plants such as ferns from the Americas to the west. By day, venture through the expansive garden’s hidden pathways before night falls and it transforms into a live arts venue. This summer, the 80-seater performance space will deliver a programme of festivals, performance and music in partnership with the Space Theatre.
Crossrail Place, E14 5AB, visit canarywharf.com