With 5,000 acres of green space in its centre alone, London has no shortage of grassy retreats. But while it might be best known for the sweeping vistas and landscaped lawns of its world-famous Royal Parks, some of its most magical botanical hotspots are to be found secreted behind walls in hidden corners of these famous spaces – or squirreled away down backstreets in amongst the sprawling buildings of the city.
Here are five of our favourite secret gardens and how to find them:
Hampstead Hill and Pergola
Hampstead Heath is one of London’s best-loved parks with its undulating paths and wild woodland walks. But lesser known is the faded grandeur and untapped beauty of Hampstead Hill and Pergola with its tangled vines and foliage snaking around the stone columns that line the path leading to its beautiful domed pergola. Find it tucked away on the West Heath.
Hampstead Hill & Pergola, N End Way, Greater London NW3
Geffrye Museum Gardens
Amid the Vietnamese restaurants and hipster bars of Shoreditch’s trendy Kingsland Road, the Geffrye Museum (despite its imposing grandeur) is easy to miss. Set back from the road and obscured by hedges, this magical museum boasts a number of stunning gardens. Soak up the history of its formal front garden or breathe in the intoxicating scents of its award-winning herb garden, containing over 170 different herbs as well as heady scented roses, honeysuckles and lilies.
The Geffrye Museum of the Home, 136 Kingsland Road, London, E2 8EA
London Fields wildflower meadow
London Fields is synonymous with vibrant ‘wild’ life but who knew this uber-cool part of Hackney also plays host to some spectacular vibrant wildlife. An unexpected slice of English rural life, slap bang in the middle of hipsterville, this wildflower meadow boasts an array of British blooms, which in turn provide a rich habitat for insects and birds. Meander through its paths to find one of its hidden clearings and escape the hungover masses.
London Fields Park, Westside, London E8 3EU
Chelsea Physic Garden
Tucked away beside the Thames, this walled Garden celebrates the beauty and importance of plants. The Chelsea Physic Garden was founded in 1673 by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries to provide medical botanicals for their apprentices to study, and to be developed into one of the most important centres of botany and plant exchange in the world. Now the Garden boasts a unique living collection of around 5,000 different edible, useful, medicinal and historical plants.
Chelsea Physic Garden 66 Royal Hospital Road, London SW3 4HS
Richmond Park might be best known for the majestic deer that strut through its grounds with a regal air but just as awe-inspiring is its stunning 40-acre woodland garden. Set within a Victorian woodland plantation and bursting with vibrant colour, Isabella Plantation was opened to the public in 1953 and is famed for its glorious rhododendrons and evergreen azaleas, which line the ponds and streams at their peak of flower in late April and early May.
Isabella Plantation, Richmond Park, Richmond, Greater London