A friend of mine phoned me last week from Kew Gardens to tell me i must get myself there as the place was stunning! - full swing spring - but i couldnt muster up a visit until today (too much work and travel!!) and sadly the peak had past but the spring flowers do continue but instead of the place being one mass of spring blooms they are now in areas around the park.
A great thing about Kew Gardens are not only the seasonal highlights such as 5 million different bulbs which flower in spring ie snowdrops which are the first flowers to appear in spring, crocuses(2 million bulbs of them!) and daffodils, camellias but also the all year glasshouses such as the Palm house which has has the worlds highest indoor plant, and the Princess of Wales conservatory where you can see 10 climatic zones with plants from orchids to cacti. Ive been to see the amazing orchid and tropical exhibition with over 200,000 plants on display which are on beginning of each year.
Theres also Kew Palace with its own Queens Gardens to see too.
Entrance is a bit expensive at about £13 or like me today a late entry ticket for £6.70, but good value is a season ticket with unlimited visits for £35!! there are reductions if you are a student or over 60 or with a disability. If you enter with a Disabled ticket then you are entitle to have someone come in free with you as a carer.
Kew Gardens is also part of the 2 for 1 scheme with National Rail - 2 people travelling to London with National Rail tickets can obtain a brochure thats usually at all railway stations, fill in a voucher thats in the back and present at the attraction such as Kew Gardens and get entry for 2 for the current one charge of £13.90 - you must have your valid travel tickets with you though and a travel cards on an Oyster card dont count......a very good deal!
2009 PRICES HAVE GONE UP QUITE A BIT ALREADY - DAY TICKET IS NOW £13, LATE ENTRANCE IS £10 AND AN ANNUAL TICKET IS £39. 2011 prices have now gone up to £13.90
To my mind, one of Central London's greatest attractions is the amount of space given over to public parks. They seem to me to be the 'safety valve' that helps to keep the teeming mass of humanity halfway sane, and provide a welcome retreat in which a footsore, culturally overloaded tourist can take refuge.
I like lots of things about London parks, especially the fact that you are allowed to sit on the grass (unless otherwise indicated): people watching over a sunny lunch time when office workers expose pasty limbs and torsos to the sky in search of a tan is enormous fun (even though you may need to keep on your sunglasses to cope with the glare of such expanses of exposed whiteness ;). Indeed, I like the fact that parks in Britain (and the former Colonies) are dominantly grass - I have never managed to warm to the French idea of gravelled parks (which, apart from any aesthetic consideration, are murder on shoe heels). And of course I love the wildlife: even the scampering grey squirrels, despite the fact that they are bullysome aliens who have pushed the native red squirrel to the brink of extinction throughout most of Britain.
I also really enjoy the monuments and memorials (featured under several of my other travel tips) as well as the purpose-built structures such as clocks and bandstands. These tend to be Victorian and designed in a functional but slightly frivolous style, and are genteel relics of a bygone age that remind you that parks have been an integral part of London life for centuries.
One of the highlights of a visit to one of London's many parks - especially if you have kids in tow - is feeding the birds. A surprising number of species have happily adapted to the urban environment, and as well as the usual water birds (swans, geese, ducks, coots and moorhens), there should be a range of garden birds, including starlings, blackbirds, sparrows, crows and various *** (and yes, before you accuse me of crudeness, this is a technical term - they come in blue, great, coal, marsh, bearded, willow and long-tailed varieties!). And, of course, the ubiquitous pigeons.
The better organised among us will come well prepared with bread to feed the ducks, whereas more disorganised souls are cajoled into sharing our lunch. Just be sure that you're not feeding the birds titbits that are indigestible to them and try not to feed pigeons at all, as, harsh though it might sound, they are winged vermin and most big cities are actively trying to curb their numbers.
A word of caution: the ducks, geese and swans in most London parks are very habituated to humans and aren't at all scared of people. Swans in particular are strong and can be pushy beasts when there's food on offer - as the photo shows, a swan at full stretch is taller than a toddler - and they can give you a very nasty nip, so rather drop the food on the ground and make sure that kids are under supervision. The only reason why I was handfeeding this one was that I had heavy duty ski gloves on and wanted a photo to prove the point - as they say in the classics, don't attempt this one at home!
P.S. I am amused that this benign tip appears to have triggered the VT censorship mechanism! For those who can't work out what the asterisked 'obscene' bird name is, it's a three lettered word beginning and ending with 't' that rhymes with 'sit'!
I wish all the big cities have big parks. The locals use them to relax, take oxygen, training etc
Do the same! It's a good opportunity have a picnic there! There are many of them but my favorite are:
HYDE PARK:divided in two by the Serpentine Lake its the most famous park
KENSIGHTON GARDENS:(pics 1-2)next to Hyde Park, many joggers love it
GREENWISH PARK:if you visit Greenwish you will visit this park!
GREEN PARK:(pic 3) big historic park, very central, encompasses Buckingham Palace, the Palace Gardens, the Queen's Gallery etc
REGEND'S PARK: London Zoo is there! It's at the north part of the city, many people love to stroll around there
HAMSTEAD HEATH: not central but go there to enjoy this tree-lined area, great for jogging and the widely spaced hills
ST JAMES:(pic 4) central, smaller than the others, some times you can see concerts, I like the lake with the ducks
East London isn’t the greenest area and doesn’t have as many parks as west London but still there are a lot of nice small and big parks. We spent a wonderful Sunday morning in spirng 2011 checking most of the parks and we really enjoyed it.
London Fields Park (pic 1)
It’s park (31 acres) with a football area, cricket pitch, lido, tennis courts, changing rooms, toilets, children’s play area, and ranger office/information point. We didnt really stay long but we saw many people having picnic here, even having barbeque on the park so we were a bit jealous and went to a nearby store and bought a cheap bottle of wine and drink it there although I would prefer to have the food of the others too :) By the way, on Saturdays there is a open air market with producers coming from other cities. The park was already recorded for hosting cricket games since the early 19th century.
It’s open 24 hours a day
Haggerston Park (pic 2)
It’s a small park (6 hectares) with a lot of facilities (toilets, tennis courts, BMX track, pond, trim trail, football areas etc) but also a children’s playground/center where there are some farm animals and kids get in touch with the farm life (sad that kids in modern cities may never have seen a goat, a sheep or a pig alive!), the atmosphere was lovely with so many kids around screaming loudly in front of the ducks or the donkey! :) There is also a nice café (Frizzante) where parents can relax for a while.
The park was created in 1950 although it took its modern shape in the 1984 when the Hackney City Farm was added.
It’s open daily 7.30-18.30
Weavers Fields (pic 3)
Not really a park but a green open air area that we passed through on our way to Bethnal Green station. There are many immigrants from Bangladesh in the area and they use Weavers Fields to celebrate Baishakhi Mela (Bengali New Year) with music and dances. It was much more peaceful the day we passed from there
Of course this is the most interesting in East London because it is larger (86 hectares) than all the others of the area together. It was opened to the public in 1845 and houses many green areas of course, numerous paths to walk, a lovely lake but also many memorials, fountains and even a pedestrian alcove which is actually a surviving fragment of the old London Bridge!! I don’t have any pics (thanks to low battery of my camera) but we will return there in July and I will take many as we will attend High Voltage Festival that takes places anualy at the end of july. The park hosts many festival during the summer period.
North East of London, between the M11 and the M25 sits Epping Forest. It is not massive but provides a good few walks, mountain bike or horse rides. Ideal for a nice walk on Sunday, especially with a nice pub lunch thrown in.
The Foresters Arms
15 Baldwins Hill,
St James’s Park is definitely one of my favourite spots in the city. All the London parks provide a welcome green oasis but for me this one has the edge. Perhaps it’s the lovely lake with so many beautiful water birds, or maybe the great views to be had from its bridge. Stand there for a while and look towards Whitehall – the domes and copulas will make you think you are somewhere far more exotic than London! Then turn to look the other way and you’ll see one of the city’s most famous buildings, Buckingham Palace, which in my opinion looks much better from this distance than close up!
This is also a great park for picnics, and for people watching. So linger a while on the benches – or why not follow a great London parks’ tradition and hire a deck-chair? And if you’re looking for refreshments, the park has an excellent restaurant (by reputation – I haven’t been – yet!) and several snack kiosks.
This is the oldest Royal Park in London, surrounded by three palaces: Westminster, the oldest and now the Houses of Parliament, St James's and of course Buckingham Palace. The Park was once a marshy meadow. In 1532 Henry VIII acquired it as a deer park and built the Palace of St James's. The park was redesigned in Charles II’s time, with avenues of trees planted and lawns laid. The King opened the park to the public and was a frequent visitor, feeding the ducks and mingling with his subjects. Later Horse Guards Parade was created by filling in one end of the canal and was used first as a mustering ground and later for parades. The Park changed again when John Nash redesigned it in a more romantic style. The canal was transformed into a natural-looking lake, and in 1837 the Ornithological Society of London presented some birds and had a cottage built for a bird-keeper. You can still see the cottage on the eastern side of the lake, near Horse Guards Parade, and apparently the position of bird-keeper remains to this day too :) Oh, and the famous resident pelicans are fed every day at 2:30pm
St James' has always been my most favourite of the Royal Parks. It was the nearest to where I worked and was where my colleagues and I would often eat our lunch surrounded by the lush greenery and tranquil lakes full of water birds including pelicans!
It's also a nice place for a VT meeting in the summer as there is now the "Inn the Park" terrace restaurant for a refreshing cup of tea (but no Coke - only expensive fruit juices!). A soft drink and a sandwich comes to about £6.
Flanked by The Mall on one side and Birdcage Walk on the other, St James is very central, a short walk from Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace.
The park is open 5am-midnight throughout the year.
Follow the "Diana Memorial Walk" plaques, inlaid in the paths, for a circular walk around the park.
When I first looked through the bars... I saw all these little graves, I thought it was a grave for little elfs or even children, it seemed very disturbing...
Looking closely, i notice the names on the graves and back home did some research this is a pet cemetery, I don't know how you get inside but you can look through the bars... its not on any maps in the park and its not signg posted...
It was founded in 1880 and closed in 1915, 300 pets are buried here...
St. James's Park is one of the prettiest in London with it's lovely beds of flowers, pond and abundance of waterfowl, including some really cool black swans and pelicans, overlooking Buckingham Palace in the distance. If you happen to be at Buckingham Palace, you can walk through the park to get to the area around Westminter Abbey and Parliament. About 1/2 way through the park there is a bridge going over the pond where you can get lovely shots of Buckingham Palace.
At one time a marsh, it was drained by Henry VIII to become part of his hunting ground and was later redesigned by Charles II with an aviary along the southern edge which is now Birdcage Walk.
At some point during your visit to London you will probably be in or around Green Park which is close to Buckingham Palace. It was originally a swampy burial ground for lepers, then a hunting ground for Charles II, now a refuge amidst the bustle of the city.
I wandered through Green Park on one of the London Walks (Strictly Confidential) and snapped this pic while waiting for the tour to start. Apparently you have to pay for the chairs should you want to sit in one which explains why so many of them are empty :-)
Queen Mary's Gardens in The Regent's Park, near the Baker Street Tube stop.
Here is the overwhelming circular rose garden, surrounded by draping garlands of rose vines--just spectacular!
Free admission to the gardens--definitely worth a look, especially in late spring!
St James Park is the one park most visitors to London will see as it is in the central tourist area and close to Trafalgar Square, Westminster, Buckingham Palace etc.
It is the oldest of Londons Royal Parks and covers a large area for a park in the centre of a city at 58 acres.
The park has a small lake, St. James's Park Lake, with two islands, West Island, and Duck Island, which is named for the lake's collection of waterfowl. This includes a resident colony of pelicans, which has been a feature of the park since the first gift of the birds from a Russian ambassador in 1664.
From a bridge across the lake there is a good view of Buckingham Palace framed by trees and fountains, and a view of the main building of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, similarly framed, to the east.
There is a cafe and toilet facilties.
Northolt Park , situated in West London has some great views across London. ( see pic.2.)
It has 3 huge mounds of earth which were bulit from the rubble after the Wembley stadium was knocked down and rebuilt.
Theres also lakes and childrens play areas.
Nearest tube station......Northolt or Greenford.
Regent's Park is a very big park north of Marylebone Road and Madame Tussaud's. Surrounded by splendid white manor houses, the park is a great place for relaxing and enjoying nature in the middle of a metropolis. It's particularly beautiful in spring when magnolias bloom all over the park. In the middle of the park, Queen Mary's Gardens make out a landscape park en miniature. Regent's Park was also designed by John Nash. Originally, it was supposed to be the site of a royal palace, but George IV changed his mind and had Buckingham Palace built instead.
Holland Park is a park that is hardly visited by tourists. It's hidden in the backstreets of Kensington and mostly frequented by locals. Many consider it one of the most romantic parks in London. You can find an orangery and a Japanese Garden in Holland Park as well as peacocks strolling through the lawns. Surrounding the park is one of London's most expensive residential areas with astronomic house prices.