When you think of London, you probably envision a concrete jungle: skyscrapers upon skyscrapers litter the city’s landscape. However, nestled amongst this artificial jungle of offices are a few natural hidden gems- you just have to know where they are! Below I have picked out a list of our favourite indoor gardens in London; yes, it may seem odd that the gardens are inside rather than outside but upon entering each building the walls seem to melt away as you become immersed in foliage.
The Barbican Conservatory (FREE)
Situated on Silk Street, the third floor of the Barbican Centre is home to London’s second biggest conservatory, populated with over 2,000 species of tropical plants and trees, terrapins and koi carp. The conservatory is a surreal hybrid world where man-made structures such as a concrete tower are taken over by sprawling plants. The sound of trickling water and wildlife (the conservatory is also home to bees) is so strong that combined with the glass walls and glass roof, make you feel as if you have stepped into a living and breathing greenhouse! The second floor of the conservatory is home to different species of cacti – from the tiny to the titanic.
Visiting tip: This indoor garden is open from 12 noon – 5pm on selected Sundays each month and Bank Holidays; it really is the perfect place to spend a relaxed and lazy day. The nearest tube stations are Barbican and Moorgate.
The Skygarden (FREE)
Standing directly opposite The Shard at 20 Fenchurch Street is the Skygarden, alternatively named the Walkie-Talkie building. Not only does The Skygarden consist of an observation deck with an open air terrace, but it is also London’s highest public indoor garden. Think of a greenhouse but ten times bigger and located in the sky! The Skygarden is home to tropical Mediterranean and South African species of plants such as: African Lily, Red Hot Poker and Bird of Paradise, all of which give it a wild and natural vibe to contrast from the concrete jungle that is the city. This is one of the best indoor gardens in London.
Visiting tip: entry is free, but booking is essential and you must do it in advance. There are alternative free-visitor walk-in spaces, however they are very limited and are only available between 10:00am – 11:30 am and 12:00pm – 16:30pm Monday to Friday. The nearest tube stations are Monument, Cannon Street, London Bridge and London Liverpool Street.
Crossrail Palace Roof Garden (FREE)
This is probably one of the coolest indoor gardens London has to offer, the edgy design of the lattice timber roof, which opens at the centre to let the light filter through, looks like something from the future! You can expect to find a broad range of exotic and diverse plants such as Asian species like bamboos to represent the east, and American species like ferns to represent the west. This 300-metre indoor garden really is a haven from the hustle and bustle of Canary Wharf and exudes tranquillity – it is the perfect place to contemplate life amid an oasis of green.
Visiting tip: the roof garden is open daily to the public until 9pm or until sunset in the summer and the nearest station is Canary Wharf.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (NOT FREE)
Kew’s collection of living plants is the largest and most diverse in the world; this is true of the outdoor landscapes but also the many indoor glasshouses. Temperate house has the reputation of being the largest Victorian glasshouse in the world and is home to some of the rarest and most threatened plants known to man. Palm House mimics a rainforest climate and houses a unique collection of tropical plants; the Princess of Wales Conservatory boasts of a collection of exotic plants from ten different climate zones. Visitors can expect to find cacti, orchids and the Titan arum which produces one of the largest flowering structures and the foulest odours in the plant kingdom (so make sure to bring a peg to cover your nose!). Kew offers multiple indoor gardens for you to wander around and lose yourself in; with so many diverse plant species, you really do feel as if you are transported to different corners of the world…this is another of the beautiful indoor gardens in London.
Visiting tip: book tickets online to save money; Kew Gardens is open daily at 10am and closes at 7pm (last entry is 6pm but trust me you need more than an hour there); the nearest stations are Kew Gardens tube station or Kew Bridge train station.
So there you have it, a non-exhaustive list of our favourite indoor gardens in London, what is your favourite green oasis the city has to offer? Answer in the comment section below.
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My name is Nicole Brownfield and I am 20 years old. I am studying English Literature and going into my 3rd and final year of Queen Mary University, London in September. I am currently the Editor-In-chief of my University magazine 'CUB' and my dream is to pursue a career in journalism after I graduate. I love living in London and am obsessed with sourcing out food and drink places, as well as exploring the parts of London I have never been to before. My boyfriend and I have recently turned pescatarian and this symbolises my goal to constantly keep bettering myself and to stay healthy and disciplined. Every day I try and achieve something as I want to look back and be proud of the life I have lived, and to make my family proud too.