The capital is home to an array of incredible parks and woodlands, but it’s also full of lesser-known secret gardens in London where you can get lost among the flowers and enjoy respite from the city crowds. From vast botanical havens to private verdant spaces and regal floral splendours, here we’ve rounded up the best gardens in London to enjoy the arrival of spring in all its glory.
The Best Gardens in London
Buckingham Palace Gardens
When it comes to London gardens, the jewel in the crown has to be those at Buckingham Palace. And from 17 July to 24 September, you’ll have the chance to explore them for yourself as part of the Palace’s State Rooms and Garden Highlights tour. Walk in the footsteps of the Royal Family and explore the gardens of His Majesty The King’s official London residence, which is home to more than 350 types of wildflowers, over 200 trees and a three-acre lake. While there you’ll be able to take in the fragrant Herbaceous Border, the summer house, the elegant Rose Garden and the Palace tennis court, where King George VI and Fred Perry played in the 1930s.
Entry is available from 17 July to 24 September from £42 for adults.
Buckingham Palace, Westminster, London, SW1A 1AA
With 16 acres of gardens and meadows, urban wildlife and architectural elements, the Horniman Gardens, part of the Horniman Museum, are a hidden gem in the southeast of London. The surprisingly expansive space comprises several gardens, including the colourful Sunken Garden, filled with seasonal floral displays; the Sound Garden, where guests can play musical instruments; the flower-filled Bee Garden, a haven for our pollen-loving friends; the Wildlife Garden, where visitors can learn about nature; the Prehistoric Garden, featuring living fossils and rare trees such as the previously-thought-extinct Wollemi pine; and the Medicinal Garden. There’s also grasslands and meadows to explore, as well as a tropical indoor garden filled with hundreds of butterflies.
Entry is free
Amroth Close, Dulwich, London, SE23 3BX
Cadogan Place Gardens
First laid in 1886, Cadogan Place Gardens is one of the most exclusive London gardens. Created for the enjoyment of local residents and homeowners, the 15-acre garden is a green haven filled with mulberry trees, black bamboo, maples, magnolias and palms. It’s also home to picturesque tennis courts and the Hans Sloane Garden, adapted from an award-winning 2003 Chelsea Flower Show design which celebrated the life of famous physician Sir Hans Sloane. The gardens are closed to the public – residents must apply for membership to gain access – but the good news is they’re accessible through The Belmond Cadogan, which can provide blankets and deck chairs to guests who wish to visit.
Entry is available only to local residents and guests of The Belmond Cadogan
75 Sloane Street, Chelsea, London, SW1X 9SG
CHELSEA PHYSIC GARDEN
Tucked away behind an unassuming brick wall lies one of Chelsea’s most enchanting (and little-known) private gardens. Despite being founded in 1673, this glorious botanical gem remains one of London’s best-kept secrets, meaning a visit there is always blissfully free from crowds, leaving plenty of space to explore the incredible array of rare medicinal plants and peruse Europe’s oldest rockery. Their charming café is always a delightful spot to while away an afternoon, and this spring they’re hosting a series of supper clubs there too. Helmed by chef Felipe de Jesus, expect seasonal delights like wild garlic soup and herb-crusted rack of spring lamb.
Entry is only available through pre-booked tickets, from £12.50 for adults
66 Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, London, SW3 4HS
Fulham Palace House & Garden
Spread across 13 acres by the river, this is the second oldest botanical garden in the city and home to rare oak trees dating as far back as 450 years. The main garden features a wide range of exotic flora from around the world, planted by the Bishops of London, who used to summer here in the 17th century, while the walled garden is an urban oasis filled with fruit trees, beehives and colourful blooms. Don’t miss The Bishop’s Tree, a striking modern sculpture carved from the trunk of a Cedar of Lebanon, or the Woodland Walk, where you can spot cow parsley, bluebell blooms and fresh young foliage on the hazel coppices in spring.
Tickets are not required and the garden is free for visitors, though a voluntary donation of £2 is encouraged for entry to the walled garden
Bishop’s Avenue, Fulham, London, SW6 6EA
Chiswick House & Gardens
Nestled in the grounds of Chiswick House, a Neo-Palladian marvel in the heart of west London, these majestic gardens are often considered the first example of ‘natural’ gardens in England. Designed by renowned landscape architect William Kent, along with his mentor, Lord Burlington, rigid formality was sidelined here in favour of a freer landscape, with rustic waterfalls, wild woodlands and a serpentine lake taking their place. Come to immerse yourself in nature and explore the 65 acres of fragrant flowerbeds, jaw-dropping vistas and 18th-century wilderness.
The garden is free for visitors, though donations are welcome
Burlington Lane, Chiswick, London W4 2RP
Perhaps the most famous of all the London gardens, Kew is home to the largest and most diverse botanical collection in the world. With over 50,000 living plants, there’s plenty to explore at this UNESCO World Heritage site. Lose yourself under a canopy of trees in the Arboretum, take in a rainbow of fragrant flowers amidst the Great Broad Walk Borders and experience a mindful moment in the beautifully manicured Japanese gardens. Make sure to visit the Temperate House while you’re there. The world’s largest Victorian glasshouse, it’s home to 1,500 species of plants from Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific Islands.
Entry is only available through pre-booked tickets, from £17 for adults
Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, Richmond, London, TW9 3AE
Eltham Palace Gardens
The grounds of Eltham Palace are just as beautiful as the Art Deco mansion itself. Over the centuries, the estate has played host to royalty and society leaders in its former life as a medieval palace, followed by a Tudor royal residence. Walk in the footsteps of the elite – including former 1930s millionaire owners Stephen and Virginia Courtauld – and explore the grounds, which are filled with historic features dotted between sprawling lawns, herbaceous borders and rock pools. Adding to its strong heritage, the garden is also home to London’s oldest working bridge, which takes you over one of the only moats left in the city.
Entry is available through pre-booked tickets, from £16 for adults
Court Yard, Greenwich, London, SE9 5QF
Fenton House Gardens
A little-known green space in Hampstead, this historic walled garden in the grounds of Fenton House surrounds the 17th-century mansion, which was bequeathed to the National Trust by its last owner Lady Binning. Visit to discover three levels of walkways which take you through formal lawns, a sunken rose garden, a 300-year-old orchard, a kitchen garden and herbaceous borders. The tiered terraces are filled with seasonal plants selected by the estate’s gardeners and overseen by gardener-in-charge Andrew Darragh. June to July is the prime season for roses, as well as exotic species such as banana plants, cannas, echiums and artichokes.
Entry is available through pre-booked tickets Friday to Sunday, from £7 for adults
Hampstead Grove, Hampstead, London, NW3 6SP