London’s newest green spaces — from bee-friendly gardens in Hyde Park to floating east London wetlands

·3-min read
Pollinator Pathmaker at Hyde Park’s North Flower Walk (Daniel Hambury/Stella Pictures Ltd)
Pollinator Pathmaker at Hyde Park’s North Flower Walk (Daniel Hambury/Stella Pictures Ltd)

Spend a day navigating central London’s more congested arteries and you might find it hard to believe that you’re in one of the 10 greenest capital cities in the world.

In fact, the capital is rich in parkland and garden squares, and the good news is new ones are being planned and planted all the time, bringing benefits for both the environment and the population at large.

Here are some of my favourite new green interventions in the heart of the city to check out this summer.

Pollinator Pathmaker at Hyde Park North Flower Walk, W2

Have you ever wondered how bees see the natural world? Artist-turned-entomologist and gardener Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg has created an algorithm to optimise planting from a bee’s perspective.

Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg at the Back to Earth project in Hyde Park (readsreads.info)
Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg at the Back to Earth project in Hyde Park (readsreads.info)

You can see the result of this computer-programmed planting on show in Hyde Park as part of the Serpentine Galleries’ Back to Earth project. See how the garden was planned, and looks from a bee’s point of view and create your own pollinator garden online.

Superbloom at the Tower of London, EC3N

Inspired by American desert blooms, the Tower of London has transformed the former moat around the Tower into a biodiversity hotspot to celebrate the Jubilee year.

Layers of carefully designed planting, all sown as 20 million seeds just weeks ago, have just begun to bloom, offering a nectar-rich carpet of colour through summer until late September. This year access to the space is ticketed, but in time it will become London’s newest park.

The biodiversity hotspot around the Tower of London (RICHARD LEA-HAIR)
The biodiversity hotspot around the Tower of London (RICHARD LEA-HAIR)

Floating Wetland Garden at Royal Docks, E16

Located in the north-western corner of the Royal Docks, near City Airport, is a newly installed floating garden. It is planted with more than 30 native plant species also found growing along the Thames estuary, providing a green refuge in an otherwise desolate area for wetland wildlife.

It’s a great opportunity to get up close and personal with nature and the water in the dock, as well as see the old industrial area from a new perspective.

Alfred Place Gardens on Tottenham Court Road, N1C

Once a quiet, unremarkable backstreet lined with parked cars, Alfred Place has been transformed into the West End’s newest pocket park. Located just off Goodge Street between Chenies Street and Store Street, the grey tarmac has been replaced with pockets of lawn, trees, woodland plants and a children’s play area.

Clever inclusion of the mature London plane trees could fool you into thinking the park has been there for years. Imagine if every insignificant backstreet received the same treatment. Let’s have more of this, please.

The West End’s newest pocket park (Daniel Hambury/Stella Pictures Ltd)
The West End’s newest pocket park (Daniel Hambury/Stella Pictures Ltd)

Jellicoe Gardens in King’s Cross, N1C

If you’ve been to Coal Drops Yard you may have discovered the plethora of new green spaces created around the King’s Cross development by some of the UK’s most prestigious garden design studios. The planting throughout these new spaces is quite special. As you move further into the development you’ll find the most recent garden addition, designed by Tom Stuart-Smith.

Check out the special planting around King’s Cross, in particular at Jellicoe Gardens (John Sturrock)
Check out the special planting around King’s Cross, in particular at Jellicoe Gardens (John Sturrock)

Jellicoe Gardens, named after the influential architect and town planner Sir Geffory Jellicoe, and situated by the Aga Khan centre, takes inspiration from a classical Persian garden. Between block planting and the dappled shade of trees, a calming rill runs through the centre of the garden, providing a peaceful retreat away from the chaos on Euston Road.

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