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London is one of the greenest capital cities in the world. As well as the large parks and open spaces, you’ll find many charming, tucked-away gardens dotted around the capital. We’ve picked five of the best, which are free to enter and open all year round. Please note, many gardens are closed at dusk and/or locked in the evenings (check websites for opening times and special events before you visit).
1. Postman’s Park
This pretty park hidden away from the Square Mile’s hustle and bustle was once a popular lunch spot for workers at the nearby General Post Office (now closed). As well as containing a handsome sundial, flowerbeds and a fountain, Postman’s Park is home to the Watts memorial, which commemorates the bravery of persons who lost their lives saving others.
BEST FOR: Midweek lunch in the City
2. Barbican Conservatory
In the centre of the Barbican Arts Centre is London’s second-largest Conservatory (the biggest is at Kew Gardens). This calm oasis contains more than 2,000 species of tropical plants and trees as well as exotic fish who circle lazily around the ponds.
BEST FOR: Relaxing with friends and family
3. Kyoto Japanese Garden in Holland Park
Inside Chelsea’s Holland Park you’ll find the tranquil Kyoto Garden. A gift from Kyoto’s Chamber of Commerce in 1991, this is a small piece of Japan in Central London. The Kyoto garden contains stone statues, waterfalls, Japanese plants and peacocks.
BEST FOR: Achieving Zen in Central London
4. Phoenix Garden
The Phoenix Garden is a community wildlife garden in London’s West End that showcases innovative and sustainable gardening techniques. The colourful array of wildflowers have been specially selected to withstand dry and low-water conditions, so they look beautiful all year round and provide a vital habitat for urban wildlife.
BEST FOR: The ultimate West End garden retreat
5. Dalston Eastern Curve Garden
This recently-opened garden was built on an old railway line and lies between Dalston Kingsland and Dalston Junction overland stations in trendy East London. The Dalston Eastern Curve Garden contains bee and butterfly-friendly plants as well as a pavilion for events, a cafe and a bike rack outside to chain your fixie.
BEST FOR: Urban hipsters
What’s your favourite secret garden in London? Tell us in the comments below.