London's Best Hidden Gardens

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Posted by All In London on Thursday 17th of March 2016




Sneak off and enjoy the solitude of London's best hidden gardens.

Westway Garden
You're never far from a green space in London, even if you're under a roaring motorway. And so Westway Garden may not come with herbaceous borders and a tearoom, but it's a perfectly hidden patch of grass with tall trees right by the Westway and minutes from Portobello Road's busy market. Great for hiding from the crowds and zooming cars.

Pergola & Hill Gardens
When Hampstead Heath gets too crowded you can head to this magnificent little-known garden. It was once part of an estate owned by a soap magnate, who used it for hosting decadent parties in the early 1900s. The pergola is a beautiful shaded walkway covered in plants, and its raised position means there are great views over the city.

Postman's Park
This park is so-called because workers from the now-defunct post office nearby used it as a lunchtime spot. A memorial bears the names of people who sacrificed their lives for others, with understated, yet tragic inscriptions such as that of an 11 year old boy who saved his brother from being run over. But it's also a very pretty spot - the individual plaques are made with Royal Doulton tiles, and it's a quiet, green park right by St. Paul's Cathedral.

King Henry’s Walk Garden
This garden is a great example of how a community can get together to create something beautiful. It was once a derelict site, but now it has more than 70 allotments with veggies and flowers, as well as a pond with frogs and creepy crawlies, bee hives and woodland. It's entirely staffed by volunteers and is open to the public at weekends, ideal for days out with the whole family.

SOAS Japanese Roof Garden
This Japanese-inspired roof garden keeps greenery to a minimum. Instead it's made with slate and granite to emulate a bridge over a river. It's been designed as a place for meditating, so despite the location near busy Russell Square it's surprisingly quiet. The raised meditation space is also ocasionaly used as a performance area for tea ceremonies and musical performances. You'll find it above the School of Oriental and African Studies, part of UCL.

Culpeper Community Garden
This community garden is very different to all the others. Locals have been given free reign to grow whatever they want in their allotments, so you're as likely to find exotic vegetables as the best flowers the English countryside has to offer. This reflects the diversity of backgrounds of the people living in Islington.
There's a shaded wildlife garden home to toads, butterflies and birds, activities for kids and lovely weeping willows. It's tucked away from the outside world thanks to high walls and trees, and it's open every day of the year to the public.

York House Gardens
It's hugely surprising York House Gardens is still such a secret. Taking pride of place is a stunning fountain surrounded by winged horses and seven striking naked nymphs, which were imported from Italy in the early 20th century. York House is where Richmond council has its headquarters, but the gardens, with a lawn, tennis courts, and a Japanese garden, are open to the public.

Red Cross Garden
This garden in Southwark was opened by Octavia Hill, the woman who London owes a huge deal of gratitude to thanks to her efforts pioneering affordable housing. At the end of the 19th century she established Red Cross Garden, calling it an 'open air sitting room', to give a much needed green space to the locals. It's a pretty park with a bridge over an ornamental pond and a grassy area with benches. Hill's Victorian cottages can still be seen on one side of the garden.

Bonnington Square Garden
Once upon a time this was the location of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, over two hundred years later it became the epicentre of London's squat scene. Now it's surrounded by co-operative housing, and the residents have made it one of the capital's best community gardens. Named the Paradise Project, it boasts sub-tropical plants and trees, and a huge Industrial Revolution-era iron waterwheel.

St. Dunstan in the East
This small garden is hidden inside the church walls of St. Dunstan in the East. The church was destroyed during the Blitz so all that remains today are the Wren Tower and the walls, which are covered in trailing plants. It's popular with City workers at lunchtime, but at all other times it's eerily quiet.

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