Gardener’s notebook: four under-the-radar London gardens and walks for glorious spring displays this weekend
This Sunday is Mother’s Day. It comes at a time when plants are waking up for spring. It’s an unstoppable force once it gets going and, cycling around London this week, it feels like we’ve finally hit a real turning point in the seasons. Carpets of yellow daffodils fill parks, front gardens and window boxes, while magnolia buds are about to burst.
If you’re looking for an outing with mum this weekend, here are some of London’s most fabulous gardens and green spaces to visit in spring.
Osterley Park Isleworth
Osterley Park is one of several National Trust properties in the capital, but for some reason often falls under the radar. It’s worth the commute to see, giving a flavour of the countryside between the highways and suburbs of west London. One of my favourite features is the old oriental plane tree on the lawn at the front of the Georgian mansion.
Head gardener Andy Eddy says: “The restored Robert Adam-designed Garden House and its display of bulbs in old terracotta pots is the highlight at the moment, along with the Winter Garden. Look out for the flowers of Clematis urophylla ‘winter beauty’, Iris reticulata ‘George’, and snowdrops.”
About a 20-minute walk from Osterley Tube; garden entry from £14 per adult
Fenton House Hampstead
Fenton House and Garden is another hidden gem, a short walk from Hampstead Tube. Behind a tall brick wall lies an oasis of garden delights, set over three levels. The garden includes an old orchard, a sunken rose garden and a traditional kitchen garden.
“The orchard is bright with ‘February Gold’ daffodils, hellebores are peppered about the garden and seek out the Osmanthus for its lovely winter scent,” says senior gardener Laura Levac. There’s beautiful structure from the hedges and topiary and from the freshly pruned roses on the walls.
“We also have a Ribes speciosum (fuchsia-flowered currant) in flower, this is a fairly unusual shrub to most gardens.”
A three-minute walk from Hampstead Tube; garden entry costs from £7, booking essential
Celandine walk West Drayton Station to Pinner Station
Travel to the fringes of west London and you’ll discover the Celandine Route along the River Pinn. The lesser celandine flower (Ficaria verna) is golden yellow and flowers around this time of year. It’s often found growing in woodland, making the most of the light before the tree canopy casts the ground into shade.
The full walk of 12 miles can be broken down into shorter sections between train and Tube stations.
Search Celandine walk to find the full map on Hillingdon Council’s website
The early blossom on cherry trees I’ve seen gives me the impression this is going to be a bumper year for displays in London. Trees seem laden with delicate pink petals.
Some of the best spaces to spot these wonders include Kew Gardens, Greenwich, Regent’s and St James’s Parks, as well as the Kyoto garden in Holland Park, Kensington Gardens and many residential streets. My favourites are in Fulham and Camberwell.