Be inspired by the colours, scents and symmetry of London’s best gardens – a showcase of nature’s glory – then take away fresh ideas to enhance your own landscape.
London offers countless private gardens to visit as well as the public gardens of Kew Gardens, Hampton Court and Ham House.
Kew Gardens contains the largest collection of plants in the world – around seven million specimens – with tropical and sub-tropical plants displayed in magnificent Victorian glasshouses.
Explore a contrast of formal gardens, terraces and lawns laid out around tall and mature trees. Whatever the season you’ll find a profusion of blooms.
Look out for delicate exotics as well as commonplace flowers and shrubs in gardens that feature the exuberant plantings and traditional borders of a mature English country garden. Stroll around wilder areas including the nuttery, woodland and meadows.
The original gardens were created for Augusta, Princess of Wales, around her home, Kew Palace. They were first laid out in 1759, then extended from 1840 onwards as a national botanic garden.
Famed landscape architect Capability Brown helped design the 121-hectare grounds, which now form a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an important botanical research and education institution.
Kew is located on the River Thames near Richmond, Surrey, about 10km southwest of London.
Visit the Queen's Garden, a faithful copy of a 17th century garden with parterres, a sunken garden and pleached alleys. Then follow the 200m-long, 18m-high treetop walk to get a bird’s-eye view of more than 100 trees sourced from around the world, including English oak, Spanish fir, Italian maple and Chinese red birch. Discover what happens beneath the ground where trees grow from inside the rhizotron.
Other sites within the garden worth visiting include: Kew Palace, a British royal palace built around 1631; the 50m-high Great Pagoda, erected in 1762; Chokushi-Mon, a replica of the Karamon (Chinese gate) of Nishi Hongan-ji in Kyoto, built in 1910 and surrounded by a traditional Japanese garden; and Queen Charlotte's Cottage.
The garden is open all year round (except 24 and 25 December) from 9.30am to 6:30pm (7:30pm weekends) or dusk.
Using the London Underground, take the District Line train (destination Richmond) to Kew Gardens station, a five-minute walk from the Gardens. Mainline trains from Waterloo stop at Kew Bridge station, just 10 minutes walk from the gardens.
Kew was the site of the first successful attempt in the 19th century to breed rubber trees for cultivation outside South America.
Surrounding one of London's oldest royal palaces and alongside the bucolic Thames River lie 24ha of formal ornamental gardens, lakes and ponds that date back to the mid-16th century when the first Renaissance garden was created here for Henry Vlll.
The gardens were later converted to the Baroque style by subsequent monarchs. For fun, get lost in the celebrated maze, which was planted in 1714.
Early 21st century restoration allows you to wander through the parterres, sculpted turf, clipped yews and hollies and daffodil-lined paths of several unique gardens including William III's Privy Garden, the Great Fountain Gardens, Tudor and Elizabethan Knot Gardens and the Wilderness.
Hampton Court Palace Garden is located 21km from central London. Open year-round, daily, from 7am until dusk (or no later than 9pm).
Savour the faithfully recreated atmosphere of this 17th century garden, which features lavender parterres flanked by hornbeam arbours; a terrace with clipped yew cones, hibiscus and pomegranate trees; the oldest free-standing orangery in Britain; and a maze-like wilderness.
Restoration of this great garden continues under the National Trust.
Located between Richmond and Kingston, Ham House Garden is open daily from 11am to 6pm, Saturday to Wednesday.
With a range of seasonal blooms, avenues of trees and waterfowl-friendly ponds and lakes, London’s parks offer a tranquil respite from the bustling city.
Meander past colourful flowerbeds in St James Park on Horse Guards Parade; explore the sunken Dutch garden and orangery in Kensington Gardens, which lies within Park Lane’s famous Hyde Park; and don’t miss the circular rose garden in lovely Regents Park.
Anytime between April and September. London’s climate is generally mild with damp winters and moderate summers. Summer averages 18°C (64°F) with a high of 30°C (86°F), while spring and autumn average 13°C (55°F) and winter averages 5°C (41°F).
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Latest update: Top Gardens in London: 18 November, 2018
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