London is one of the greenest cities in Europe. Forty per cent of its area is dedicated to readily accessible parks and public spaces, and while the great parks are known and loved by Londoners and visitors alike, few people know of the many small and remarkable spaces that are dotted through the City and adjacent districts.
This walk encompasses old and new gardens with histories spanning five centuries. In recent years some have benefited from new planting schemes, moving a way from traditional annual bedding arrangements to planting that is more sustainable. Plants have also been carefully chosen to provide seasonal interest, biodiversity benefits and to cope with the increasing footfall of visitors. A number have been created in the bombed-out remains of Wren churches, and these include St Dunstan’s in the East whose ruins have been engulfed in a wide range of wall shrubs and climbers to create a beautiful garden with a haunting atmosphere.
Postman’s Park, beloved as a lunchtime venue for City workers is another small space with a story; the Barber Surgeons' gardens also lie on our path. Charterhouse, a former Carthusian monastery now a retirement home, has a wonderful country garden just beyond the City boundary.
In contrast, the dramatic Brutalist architecture of the Barbican housing estate has been updated with an innovative planting scheme developed by Professor Nigel Dunnett, following his landscaping success around the Olympic Park.
Louisa Allen is a horticulturist and garden designer. She worked for the City of London Corporation from 2012-2017, managing 200 modern and historic green spaces in the Square Mile, where notable recent projects included commissioning Professor Nigel Dunnett’s landmark planting scheme on the Barbican Estate, re-landscaping St Dunstan in the East and renovating Postman’s Park. She completed a Masters in Horticulture with the Royal Horticultural Society in 2016. Her particular interest is urban environments and the impact these can have on well-being and engaging communities.
Start and finish
Start: Tower Hill Tube Station 9.45am. Finish: near Monument Station c. 5.50pm.
£220. This includes a good lunch and refreshment breaks, admission charges, one Underground journey, radio guides, services of a tour manager.
The distance covered around 3 miles and you are on your feet for most of the day.
Please inform us at the time of booking if you have any.
Between 10 and 18 participants.
We will return the full amount if you notify us 22 or more days before the event. We will retain 50% if cancellation is made within three weeks and 100% if within three days. Please put your cancellation in writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. We advise taking out insurance in case of cancellation and recommend that overseas clients are also covered for possible medical and repatriation costs.
'This was a wonderful day's tour. It comprised a surprisingly wide variety of well-chosen gardens. I have worked in the City for many years and the tour included gardens I knew, thought I knew and didn’t even know existed!'
'The lecturer's personality, knowledge and vivacious lecturing style, coupled with her observations on the modern, artistic styles of garden design, made this tour. There was a very generous number of gardens to visit, but in such a small area the variety of styles of design was astonishing. This tour had been extremely well researched and planned. Top marks for all involved.'
'I loved the fact that it was all around the London area that you may travel through on a regular basis and all of that delight is hidden, I also loved the history and development connected to each garden.'