Spring is in the air and with it comes new plant life including beautiful blossoms, delightful daffodils, wonderful wisteria and bountiful bluebells. From parks to gardens, here’s where to find blossom in London.
Fenton House and Garden is just a short walk from Hampstead Tube station but is a tranquil sanctuary from the buzz of the city. The handsome 17th-century house has fascinating collections and a charming manicured garden that comes into its own from mid-April. Witness the fluffy pink flowers from an avenue of cherry trees, prunus amanogawa (meaning ‘milky way’ in Japanese) leading down to the Golden Gate. There are also 27 different varieties of apple trees, which burst into pink flowers and then fade to white. Catch them in the 300-year-old orchard.
Ham House and Garden in Richmond is a 17th-century Stuart House on the banks of the River Thames that contains a unique collection of cabinets and artwork.
Visitors in the garden in spring at Fenton House, London, courtesy of National Trust
From mid-April, you’ll find vibrant cherry, apricot, plum, apple, pear and peach trees in bloom in the kitchen garden. According to records, there has been an orchard on site since at least 1609. What’s more, there will be 14 new crab apple trees planted this year as part of a new scheme which provides blossom and food for pollinators.
The Sunken Gardens at Hampton Court Palace © Historic Royal Palaces
With immaculate lawns and symmetrical design, Hampton Court Palace gardens are literally fit for a King and it is easy to imagine Henry VIII wandering through the grounds as he plotted his next dramatic move. When you’ve explored the world’s oldest puzzle maze, the pond garden and the magic garden, among others, experience a shift in atmosphere as you wander down to The Wilderness, which comes into its own in spring, with a sea of daffodils and beautiful cherry trees. Once Charles II’s formal pleasure garden it is now a wildlife meadow burgeoning with wildlife all year long.
The Orchid Festival at Kew © RBG Kew
There is something therapeutic about colour, especially when the weather is grey and foreboding. At Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the Orchids are back (to 5 Mar) to brighten up your day. Inspired by the beauty of Cameroon, this epic display features stunning, larger-than-life sculptures of Cameroonian orchids, many of which are threatened species. Wander around the glasshouses among the striking flowers and learn about scientists working to conserve the incredible diversity of plant life in Cameroon. You can also spot crocus carpets and a mix of blossom in the grounds during spring.
Marking its 350th birthday this year, Chelsea Physic Garden is London’s oldest botanic garden and a calm oasis from the hubbub of traffic nearby. It houses more than 5, 000 species of plants, with a focus on medicinal specimens. There’s plenty to explore outside, such as ‘the garden of world medicine’, featuring plants that people still use for medicine today. You could even have a go at designing and painting your own glass jar and learning to arrange cut flowers at the Valentine’s Floral Arrangement Family Workshop on Thursday 16 February.
Regents Park, named after Prince Regent (who later became King George IV), features everything from formal gardens to sports facilities, a wetland area and playgrounds. Find your way to Avenue Gardens where you’ll see rows of formal tulips. Meanwhile, there are snowdrops and daffodils in the lawns of Queen Mary’s Garden, named after the wife of King George V. If you feel like taking in more of the sights, amble down to Primrose Hill, where you can witness a stunning view of the city skyline.
Legend has it that Queen Catherine once caught her husband and philanderer Charles II picking flowers with another woman in Green Park – hence the lack of them, since. But the glorious clusters of daffodils that come out every springtime are the exception to this.
Peckham Rye Park may not be much to write home about, but it’s worth a visit for Sexby Gardens, which dates back to 1906. It’s been lovingly kept ever since. Have a wander under the romantic wisteria-covered pergolas and behold the vibrant tulips.
If it’s bluebells you’re after, make a note to keep an eye out for them from early April until mid-May. Spot carpets of these lovely blue flowers in Highgate Woods, Osterly Park, Wanstead Flats and the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park.
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Even if you don’t want to walk away with a handful of blooms, Columbia Road Flower Market, situated in Tower Hamlets, is a destination in itself. Every Sunday, generations of market traders set up stalls to offer you everything from cut flowers to succulents, house plants to herbs, at affordable prices. With a spectrum of shapes and colours, it’s quite the spectacle, and the smell is, of course, not something to complain about.
Clifton Nurseries, nestled in the prestigious neighbourhood of Maida Vale, is London’s oldest garden centre. The beautiful glasshouse is brimming with exotic flowers and houseplants – the ideal chic retreat from the city. After perusing the plants and blooms, why not pull up a chair and while away some time in Flotsam & Jetsam café? Indulge in brunch, cakes or pastries in the lovely surroundings of the glasshouse, set among the plants.