London is blessed with vast tracts of green spaces that cover nearly half of its area. Whereas everyone is aware of the Royal Parks such as Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Regent’s Park and St James’s Park, the city presents many more little known green spaces that are also worth visiting such as the following.
Japanese Roof Garden: It is situated off the western corner of Russell Square and located above the Brunei Gallery at SOAS. It was built in 2001 and forms a part of the University of London. Since it is enclosed on all sides, it is a quiet space with a little raked gravel section. It is a lovely garden, especially in spring and is dedicated to forgiveness as the base of the water basin is carved with the kanji character. It is an ideal place for contemplation while its stage area is sometimes used for tea ceremonies or musical performances. Entry to the garden is free.
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Phoenix Garden: Located just a stone’s throw from West End’s theatres, it is a peaceful green retreat for tourists, Londoners and workers all year round and it provides a haven for a large range of wildlife. The plants in the garden are chosen keeping in view the difficult growing conditions and to support its wildlife residents that consist of five species of bee, various butterflies, many birds, greenfinch, house sparrow, woodpecker, kestrel, and sparrow hawk. This is the only place in West End where you can find frogs.
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Postman’s Park: Located just round the corner from St Paul’s Cathedral, this park presents a quiet space although being in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the surrounding area. It is famous for its Watts Memorial where plaques remember ordinary people who had done extraordinary things to save fellow human beings. There are over 50 plaques in one corner of the park with beautiful lettering hand-painted onto Royal Doulton tiles detailing the heroic deeds of the person who died saving another life. The information on the plaques is in poetic form but is short.
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Red Cross Garden: Renovated and restored to its original Victorian layout in 2005, this garden is maintained by volunteers. It was built by Octavia Hill in 1886 who demonstrated the importance of improving housing for the poor and of contact with nature for residents as also the need for meaningful occupation for poor workers.
Skip Garden: This sustainable urban garden is like a green oasis in the middle of the King’s Cross development with wild flowers, vegetables and herbs, beehives and chicken coops. It has grown into a community project providing all types of opportunities for the local youth. The garden was created by using recycled materials, mostly from construction sites.