Calling all nature lovers, this one is for you! London is well known to be a concrete jungle but hidden are natural paradises waiting to be explored. It is sometimes difficult to fathom how London fits everything within its region that covers a minimal 1,572 km2; especially these magnificent outdoor spaces.
The most exotic place in London is home to 30,000 living plant species. This wildlife santurary is located 30 minutes from the center of London. The beauty of Kew Gardens is not just reliant on the physical, but also the historical. The origins of Kew Gardens can be traced to the merging of the royal estates of Richmond and Kew in 1772. William Chambers built several gardenstructures, including the lofty Chinese pagoda built in 1761 which still remains. George III enriched the gardens, aided by William Aiton and Sir Joseph Banks. Kew Palace is the smallest of British royal residences, and provided a popular country getaway for the monarchy in the reign of George III (1760-1820). Additionally, the world's oldest pot plant is the centrepeice of Kew's Palm House and dates back to the early 1770's. The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew have two national bases for research into botanical studies, enriching future generations with the beautiful outdoors.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey; TW9 3AF.
London's largest Site of Special Scientific Interest and a European Special Area of Conservation. Richmond Park is one of London's eight Royal Parks and covers an area of 2500 acres. Richmond Park's protected status as an important habitat for wildlife and is a National Nature Reserve makes it the closest thing you'll get to a safari in London. Richmond Park also is home to the Isabella Plantation. The bright colours in this woodland garden are so vibrant that any visiting hippy might be forgiven for thinking he's in the throes of an intense acid flashback. The rich reds, pinks and purples of blooming rhododendrons and azaleas line the pathways amid hidden ponds and tranquil clearings. Richmond Park as a whole is a delightful place, but this enclosed 42-acre space would give any garden in the world a run for its Monet. Climb up King Henry's Mound for one of London's most famous protected views of St Paul's Cathedral, ten miles in the distance.
Richmond, London; TW10 5HS.
With paramic views of London's skyline, this urban jungle is a must-see for Londoners and tourists alike. Be protected by the elements whilst being immersed in the green bliss of this enormous green house.
Old Broad Street, London, City; EC2M 7QH.
Greenwich Park is a beautiful coalition of nature and science. Greenwich Park is home to the Royal Observatory, the National Maritime Museum and the meridian line in Greenwich represents the Prime Meridian of the world, Longitude Zero. There are also a vast amount of green space which features beautiful gardens and landscapes including the Herb Garden, Rose Garden and The Queen's Orchard.
Greenwich, London; SE10 8QY.
St James Park
Meet St James's Park's best known residents, the pelicans. The birds initially were introduced to the park in 1664, they were donated to King Charles II by a Russian ambassador and today's pelicans are the descendants of the original arrivals.
London; SW1A 2BJ.
Clissold Park is an open space in Stoke Newington. Clissold Park was opened in 1889 and has held a Green Flag award since 2006. The park has a cute mini-zoo nestled in its centre, with rabbits, chickens, goats and deer. The butterfly tunnel and aviary next door aren't open as often as you'd like, but when they are, they're worth a look. Clissold Park's adventure playground features a vast sandpit sporting a shipwreck in its midst, a zip wire and a wide variety of climbing structures.
Green Lanes, Stoke Newington, London; N16 9HJ.
Hyde Park and kensington Gardens
Probably London's most famous outdoor space, Hyde Park is located in the centre of London. At 1.5 miles long and about a mile wide, Hyde Park is one of the largest of London's Royal Parks and is only a short-distance away from maany London landmarks like Oxford Street. The land was appropriated in 1536 from the monks of Westminster.
London; W2 2UH.
Holland Park is the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea's largest park with 22.5 hectares of gardens and large areas of woodland abundant with wildlife. Contained within the park is the beautiful Kyoto Garden; a Japanese garden donated by the Chamber of Commerce of Kyoto in 1991. The Kyoto Gardens is a beautiful space which features koi carp and a bridge at the foot of a waterfall. The park surrounds a Jacobean mansion, Holland House, named after its second owner, the Earl of Holland, whose wife was the first person in England to successfully grow dahlias which are still being grown in the park today. Holland House has experienced a vast amouny of political and literary activity in its history and has been visited by Disraeli and Lord Byron amongst others, but was largely destroyed by bombs during WWII.
Ilchester Place; W8 6LU.
A short walk from St Paul's Cathedral lies one of London's most touching monuments: George Frederic Watts's 'Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice'. Within the quiet Postman's Park, nestled beneath a tiled roof, are just over 50 ceramic plaques, each commemorating an ordinary person who lost their life trying to save others. Many of the descriptions are truly heartbreaking, and you can easily spend an entire lunchbreak contemplating their selflessness.
King Edward Street, London; EC1A 7BT.
Dinosaurs do exist! The Crystal Palace Dinosaurs are a collection of over 30 statues created by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins (1807-1894) in approximately 1854. These life-like dinosaurs which lurk between the trees are the first ever attempt anywhere in the world to model dinosaurs as full-scale, three-dimensional, active creatures.
This large South London park also features an outdoor concert stage, a children's farm and playground, national sports centre and plenty of green space; oh and did I mention it has dinosaurs!
Thicket Road, London; SE19 2GA.
Abney Park Cemetery
This eighteenth-century cemetery is more than a home for the deceased, it also has live music and other events hosted within its grounds, as well as wood and stone carving courses. The Egyptian Revival-style entrance with hieroglyphics is one of the earliest examples of the style in a cemetery in the world. There is a life-size lion guarding the grave of Susannah and Frank Bostock, menagerists who brought African animals like lions to public attention in Britain. The beautiful exotic plants around the perimeter of the garden in alphabetical order, aiming to educate and inspire visitors. With this said, the peaceful tranquility is a beautifully represents the historical cosmopolanism of London.
215 Stoke Newington High St, Stoke Newington, London; N16 0LH.
Hampstead Hill Garden and Pergola
Thousands wander across Hampstead Heath's wild and undulating parkland every year, but very few discover this eerie and elegant pocket of faded grandeur on the West Heath. Built by Lord Leverhulme at the start of the twentieth century as a setting for his extravagant parties, it includes impressive gardens and a dramatic elevated walkway, where overhanging plants create a lush canopy and tangled roots twist around smooth stone columns. A little window into the world of the Edwardian super-rich. If you visit in the early evening you might catch a glimpse of the long-eared bats.
The Pergola, Inverforth Cl, London; NW3 7EX.
The Regent’s Park is one of London’s eight Royal Parks and covers an area of 395 acres. It was named after Prince Regent who sometimes was known as the playboy prince, who later became King George IV (1762-1830). It houses London Zoo (ZSL) and features vasts amount of wildlife and plantlife. Walk through the elegant flowerbeds in the Avenue Gardens, see more than 12,000 roses in Queen Mary’s Gardens, or hire a rowing boat and join the ducks on the boating lake. Visit the Open Air Theatre and London Zoo, then take a stroll up Primrose Hill for excellent views of the London skyline. The park also provides a warm welcome for wildlife. It has a large wetland area and is home to around 100 species of wild bird and a breeding population of hedgehogs.
Chester Rd, London; NW1 4NR.
Step into The Queen's garden at Green Park which covers just over 40 acres. This park is centrally located and features a range of memorials, fountains and statues. It is rumoured in the seventeenth century King Charles II's wife demanded all the flowers be removed from The Green Park after she caught him picking flowers there for another woman. The park still has no formal flowerbeds but is riot of yellow in spring, when around one million daffodil bulbs are in bloom.
Piccadilly, St James's, London; W1J 9DZ.
Mayfield Lavender presents a unique opportunity for guests to freely explore the stunning 25-acre lavender farm. Set up in 2006 to help revive the historic lavender industry in the area, which boomed during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Mayfield Lavender is a 25-acre organic lavender field on an original Victorian site situated on the North Surrey Downs. Two varieties of English lavender are grown on the chalky soil; flowers are harvested and distilled to produce lavender oil.
1 Carshalton Rd, Banstead; SM7 3JA.
The charming greenery of Vauxhall Park features an array of attractions. Inhale the lavender scents in the rose garden and get lost in the lilac meadow of delightful smells and sights. The truly unique and charming miniature model village is a lovely sight to be seen. And locally, Vauxhall Flower Market is a short distance away. It is one of the largest flower markets in the country and sells flowers from all over the world.
12 Lawn Ln, London; SW8 1UA.
Japanese Roof Garden
The Japanese Roof Garden is one of London's best kept secrets. the tranquil peacefulness of this space is a great divergence to the western corner of Russell Square where it is located. It is above the Brunei Gallery at SOAS, part of the University of London, and was built in 2001. The garden is dedicated to forgiveness, which is the kanji character carved into the base of the water basin, and it really is perfect for a spot of contemplation. The stage area is occasionally used for tea ceremonies or musical performances. You can visit the garden for free any time the Brunei Gallery is open and offers a lovely break to city life.
10 Thornhaugh Street, London; WC1H 0XG.
Chelsea Physic Garden
Established as the Apothecaries' Garden in 1673, Chelsea Physic Garden's name is reference to the science of healing, is the among the oldest botanical gardens in Britain. Its rock garden is the oldest English garden devoted to alpine plants, its made from fused bricks and flint, stones from the Tower of London, and Icelandic lava brought up the Thames by ship in 1772. Protected by the garden's heat-trapping high brick walls is the largest fruiting olive tree in Britain, along with what is doubtless the world's northernmost grapefruit growing outdoors. Today the garden is also home to Britain's first garden of ethnobotany (the study of the botany of different ethnic groups and indigenous peoples), and a Garden of Medicinal Plants, tracing the chronology of plant remedies over almost an acre, from ancient Greek herbs to plants that are likely to be used in future medicine. Illustrated information panels explain what you're seeing, but there are also guided tours and walks, talks and workshops throughout the growing season.
66 Royal Hospital Rd, Chelsea, London; SW3 4HS.
Located in the heart of one of Europes biggest redevelopments is the Skip Garden. The King's Cross redevelopment is more than just an industrial development as everything in this garden is built using recycled materials from the construction site. This garden is a community project which contributes to its charming character. This sustainable urban garden features a moveable vegetable garden built in skips.
Tapper walk, Kings Cross, London; N1C 4AQ.
Little Britain is a man-made eden located in Hillingdon. Situated between the River Colne and Frays River is an attractive lake, which is called 'Little Britain' because of its shape resembles the British Isles. The lake covers approximately 14 acres, and was formed as the result of gravel extraction in the early 1930s. The islands in the lake were made from Hornbeam stakes and woven with Hornbeam/birch to 2ft below surface then top 2ft with willow. The lake is beautiful location for fishing, hicking and picnics and has a picnic area and well-kept toilets on site. There is a pathway, laid around the western edge of the lake, it is especially suitable for users of wheelchairs, mobility scooters and pushchairs, and people with impaired mobility. Little Britain is open every day throughout the year.
Packet Boat Lane, Cowley; UB8 2JR.