Gardenvisit.com published a London Gardens Route to celebrate the 2012 Chelsea Fringe. It is a 30km walk, or cycle ride, which takes you through 700 years of English garden history and, with a visit to the British Museum, through another 3500 years of West Asian and European garden history. Click to see the London Garden Walk Route Map online on Googlemaps. An eBook guide to the London Gardens walk is available from Amazon. The recommended start and end points, shown with green markers, are Trafalgar Square and Victoria Tower Gardens.
View Larger Map:- London Gardens Walking Tour
The London Gardens Trust recommends a walk visiting gardens in the historic Square Mile. See City of London Gardens Walk
Accommodation. You can stay in a Garden Hotel
London must have a greater concentration of enthusiastic gardeners than any other capital city. This is because of :
- a favourable climate (adequate rain with mild summers and mild winters)
- a longer period without the need for city walls than any other European country - and a thousand years without an invasion
- a long-held political belief in a property-holding democracy
- London is the capital of a nation which loves gardening
England has almost as many gardens open to the public as the whole of Continental Europe. But most of London's gardens are private, so one has to visit municipal parks and Royal Parks or travel beyond the city limits. Fortunately, London is the hub of a great transport network. Commuters arrive during the morning rush hour and depart during the evening rush-hour. Since garden visitors do the opposite, the system might have been arranged for their convenience. You can use public transport to visit gardens and parks, many of which freely open all the year.
Chelsea Gardens: Ranelagh Gardens (site of Chelsea Flower Show), Chelsea Physic, Battersea Park
Chelsea is a famously chic area of London and as the home of the world's greatest garden show. If visiting outside Chelsea Week (near the end of May) you can still visit one of Europe's ancient botanical gardens, one of London's best parks and the Museum of Garden History.
Travel to Chelsea: take the District or Circle Line to Sloane Square. Walk down the King's Road, then down Flood Street (where Mrs Thatcher lived before she became PM) to the River Thames. After visiting the Chelsea Physic and Ranelagh Gardens, cross Chelsea Bridge to Battersea Park.
Central London Gardens: St James's Park, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Regent's Park, Museum of Garden History
These parks and gardens are all within easy walking distance of each other. One should follow Nash's 'processional route' from St James's Park, up Regent Street and Portland Place to Regent's Park.
Hampstead Gardens: Kenwood, Hill House, Hampsted Garden Suburb
Hampstead is the elite suburb favoured by arts and media people. It has many wonderful private gardens and a few public gardens. See the two gardens in Hampstead Village and then walk over Hampstead Heath to Kenwood and Hampstead Garden Suburb.
Travel to Hampstead: take the underground (Northern Line) to Hampstead Station. Walk up Heath Street and visit Fenton House and the Hill Garden. Then walk through Hampstead Heath to Kenwood (about 1 mile). Another 1 mile walk will take you to Hampstead Garden Suburb - see Lutyens's Central Square and peer at the wonderful (private) Arts and Crafts gardens. Take the underground back from Golders Green Station.
City Gardens: There are no great gardens in the historic Square Mile which is the City of London financial district. But a number of small courtyards are worth visiting: St Dunstan in the East Churchyard, Bunhill Fields, Lincoln's Inn Fields, the Inns of Court, Fountain Court, the Barbican and Broadgate.
South West London: Kew Gardens and Chiswick and Syon and Hampton Court and Ham House. All these gardens are easily accessible by train from Central London.
Travel by train: Kew Gardens station is on the District Line (eg from Westminster Station). You can then cross the river and take a 237 or 267 bus to Syon Park (or you can walk). After visiting Kew it is very pleasant to walk along the Thames Path to Richmond. Hampton Court station is best reached from Waterloo station, but the trip can be done from Richmond Station.
Greenwich Parks Walk: Greenwich Park, Thames Path, Maryon Wilson Park, Charlton Park,
Travel to Greenwich: by boat from Westminster, by train from Charing Cross Station or by Docklands Light Railway from the City. One then walk along the path beside the River Thames to the Millennium Dome and take an underground train, or boat, back to Central London. Anyone wanting a 5-mile walk can then proceed along the Thames to the Barrier, turn south and walk through Maryon Park and Maryon Wilson Park to Charlton Park. Returning down Charlton Church Lane will take you to Charlton Station and back to London.
Greenwich and Docklands Scenic Walk:
Travel to Blackheath Station, from Charing Cross Station. Walk north across Blackheath and through Greenwich Park. Leave by the north west gate and walk through Greenwich to the Cutty Sark. Use the old foot tunnel to cross the river. Emerge at Island Gardens, walk through the Mud Chute Park and beside the East India Dock Basins to the Regent's Canal Dock. You can take the Docklands Light Railway back to London from here or you can walk along the Grand Union Canal Towpath to London's first public park (Victoria Park). A train from Cambridge Heath Station will take you back into London - or you could walk on round the canal towpath to Regents Park (you have to leave the towpath for a short stretch in Islington). If you decided to return to London on the Docklands Light Railway, take the Tower Gateway branch instead of the City Branch and you can see St Katherine's Dock and the Tower of London. St Katherine's is the most gardened of London's docks. It is also worth walking across Tower Bridge and visiting the section of the river bank between St Saviour's Dock and London Bridge.
Surrey Gardens Wisley, Painshill, Claremont
Travel by train from Waterloo to Oxshott, then take a taxi or make a 2-mile walk across Oxshott Heath and Esher Common to Claremont. It is then 2.5 miles along the Portsmouth Road to Painshill (on foot, by taxi or by bus). Wisley Gardens are a further 2.5 miles south west of Painshill.
Oxfordshire Classic Gardens: Stowe, Rousham, Blenheim
Travel by train from Paddington to Oxford then bus or taxi to Woodstock, which is 8 miles north of Oxford. Rousham is 6 miles north of Blenheim. Stowe is 15 miles east of Rousham. A further 12 mile taxi ride takes you to Milton Keynes, from where one can return to London. The ride is expensive in taxi fares but it lets you see three of the greatest landscape gardens in one day.
East Kent Gardens: Great Dixter and Sissinghurst
Take a train from Charing Cross to Ashford and then a taxi for the 12 miles to Sissinghurst. If you can tear yourself away early enough in the day, take another taxi for another 12 miles and see Great Dixter. Alternatively, take a train from Charing Cross to Robertsbridge and a taxi to Great Dixter (8 miles from Robertsbridge).
Day trip from London to Sissinghurst: telephone to check before you go but in summer (early May to late August) there is normally a Sissinghurst Bus Link from Staplehurst Station to the garden. It normally meets the 11.00 train from London (or 10.30 on Sunday). Or you can walk the 4 miles from the station to the garden. With a 1:50,000 map you can do this partly on country paths. For overseas visitors, it is a delightful opportunity to see a part of England's famous countryside.
West Kent Gardens: Penshurst, Chartwell, Hever Castle
Take trrain from Charing Cross. Chartwell is 6 miles from Oxted Station. Penshurst and Hever Castle are within a 3-mile radius of Penshurst Station.
It is a natural thing for visitors to London from overseas to want to see the work of Britain's most famous garden designer: Lancelot Brown. We recommend trips to Kenwood, Claremont, Stowe and Blenheim. He lived at Hampton Court but did not modify the grounds.
It is equally natural to want to see the work of Britain's second most famous gardener. Gertrude Jekyll lived in Surrey but few good examples of her work are open to the public, so go to Sissinghurst and Great Dixter instead, to see excellent examples of the style she advocated.
Jellicoe Gardens: Hemel Hempstead & Kennedy Memorial at Runnymede
Two of Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe's major projects can be visited by train from mainline railway stations in Central London. Hemel Hempsted is reached from Euston Station. The Kennedy Memorial Gardens can be reached from Waterloo Station. The importance of these two projects is explained in the essay on Jellicoe and the Subconscious.
Travel to Kennedy Memorial: train from Waterloo to Egham (on main line from London to Reading) then 1.5 mile walk (via Cooper's Hill towards Old Windsor). You can then walk a further 3.5 miles (via Windsor Great Park) and take the train back to London from Windsor Station.
Travel to Hemel Hempstead: train from Euston Station. The Water Gardens are 1 mile walk from Hemel Hempstead Station, immediatly west of the Marlowes shopping centre. In addition to designing the Water Gardens, Jellicoe produced the Master Plan for Hemel Hempstead New Town.
Garden Hotels London has some garden hotels but one might choose to stay in a garden hotel outside the city and commute in. There are garden hotels in Kent and Surrey. Or one could choose a hotel in a hotel in a scenic location (eg St Katherine's by the Tower or Cannizaro House). Or you could choose a hotel with a scenic location: The Royal Horseguards and St Katherine's by the Tower hotels overlook the River Thames.