Cities have always suffered from a fatal flaw in the eyes of many: the lack of green spaces. Described as concrete jungles, many of the most renowned metropolises represent a real departure from the gentle nature of the countryside and a harsh move into the mechanisation of man. This might seem melodramatic, and most of those looking for one of the gardens in London will think that such theoretical things are well beyond them, or irrelevant. After all, why would they be concerned with such philosophical ideas: they just want to see a few trees.
Everyone is affected by it, whether they realise it or not. There are few, if any, who can claim that the grind of the city doesn’t wear on them. In time, even the strongest of men will feel the sapping effect that comes from living in a place of glass, steel and copper wires. The industrial revolution may have been instrumental in Britain’s rise, but it also provoked an intellectual backlash. For many, it was the start of a new age in which men were seen as essential cogs in a machine rather than as people. These days, they pass through mechanised gates with automatic cards, see plastic and metal all day, stare at digital representations of life for 8 hours, then traipse home once more.
That’s why the top London gardens are so important. These communal spaces offer people an alternative to this world of grey and black. It’s because of them that a tired worker can recuperate in the shade of the tree, their continued presence that offers a place of peace and solace to the inhabitants of the capital. They enrich our lives without us knowing it: through their effect on the atmosphere and through their pleasant appearance. Without them, London would be half the city it is today.
Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew
Better known as Kew gardens, these are probably the best known in all of London. Temperate House forms the centrepiece of this inspiring place of greenery and life, and acts as a focal point for the sprawling grounds. The architecture of the building is fitting: peaceful and gentle, whilst still rather magnificent. There are few who wouldn’t enjoy a stroll through its white arches or love to see the many flowers growing beneath its glass panes. It’s what makes the gardens unique and worthy of a spot on our list.
Kew Gardens are located at: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 3AB
To find out more please visit: http://www.kew.org/
Kensington Palace Gardens
Best known as Billionaires row, and famed for the exclusivity of access, Kensington Palace Gardens are a bit of a curveball for any list of the top 10 gardens in London. After all, they’re rarely accessed by those that aren’t residents and the area is well beyond the reach of the majority of the capital’s inhabitants. So why include it? The simple truth is because it’s worth it. Open days might be fairly rare, and it might seem like an odd place to go considering the proximity of Hyde Park, but there are few feelings that match walking along the treelined avenues in midsummer, admiring the wonderful houses and the impeccably elegant surroundings.
Hampton Court Palace Gardens
Court Palace Gardens only makes this list by being technically within the bounds of Greater London. We wavered a little over its inclusion, but ultimately the quality of the gardens won out over geographical technicalities. Offering a rich variety of plants and a wonderfully expansive setting, these gardens use their location on the outskirts to create an experience that is wonderfully indulgent.
Hampton Court Palace Gardens is located at: East Molesey, KT8 9AU
To find out more please visit: http://www.hrp.org.uk/HamptonCourtPalace/stories/hamptoncourtgardens
Chiswick House Gardens
The stunning architecture of the buildings is beautifully set alongside a well maintained and generally excellent set of grounds.
To find out more please visit: http://www.chgt.org.uk/
The Garden Museum
A little bit meta of a list of top 10 London gardens, this entry is both an excellent garden in its own right and a museum examining what makes great gardens truly special. One for the enthusiasts.
To find out more please visit: http://www.gardenmuseum.org.uk/
An Art Deco masterpiece, Eltham Palace is considered by many to be one of the best examples of the artistic style in the country. From gold plated bathrooms, to exquisite wall hangings and furniture, it’s a stately home with style. Its gardens are similarly stunning, offering some incredible sights and general high quality greenery.
Eltham Palace is located at: Court Yard, London, Greenwich SE9 5QE
To find out more please visit: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/eltham-palace-and-gardens/
Charlton House Peace Garden
The grounds of a historic house, this garden hopes to offer tranquility and peace to all those who enter it.
To find out more please visit: http://charlton-house.org/
Syon House and Gardens
Syon House is one of the capital’s last great manors. Owned by the same family for the last 400 years, it represents a tradition that is slowly coming to an end: that of the familial estate. Open to the public and boasting a truly excellent garden, there appears to be no sign of this establishment dying out just yet. Special praise must be given to the quality of the groundsmanship here: few others are managed quite so impeccably, and you’d struggle to find even a leaf out of place.
Syon House is located at: Syon Park, London Rd, Syon Park, Brentford, Middlesex TW8 8JF
To find out more please visit: http://www.syonpark.co.uk/
The Flanders Fields Memorial Garden
A solemn place, this garden is a place of reflection and pondering. Built to honour the fallen, it reminds us all of the cost paid dearly by the millions who fought for our freedom.
To find out more please visit: http://www.memorial2014.com/en/memorial_garden
Chelsea Physic Garden
A inner city staple of any list of the top 10 gardens in London, it’s one whose name is often misunderstood. These isn’t any mind reading or telekinesis going on here, it’s the physic garden, as in the natural science. Once home to apothecaries and medicine men, these days it honours its roots with a selection of fragrant herbs that lines neatly paved paths. It’s not as expansive or grand as the others but it does offer some peace and quiet in London’s busy heart.
Chelsea Physic Garden is located at: 66 Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, London SW3 4HS
To find out more please visit: http://chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk/
The Kyoto Japanese Garden in Holland Park
An Oasis of calm and beauty, this Japanese inspired offering easily makes our list top London gardens thanks to its originality. Cherry blossoms, eastern architecture and some excellent water features make it one of the more peaceful places that the capital possesses.
The Kyoto Japanese Garden is located at: Ilchester Place W8
To find out more please visit: http://www.rbkc.gov.uk/leisureandlibraries/parksandgardens/yourlocalpark/hollandpark.aspx
Once the home of the Bishops of London, it nows stands as a historic house located in the heart of the affluent west side. The gardens are elegant and tidy, making this list of the best London gardens through sheer quality rather than through any novelty.
Fulham Palace is located at: Bishop’s Ave, London SW6 6EA
To find out more please visit: http://www.fulhampalace.org/