It may surprise people to learn that London is one of the greenest cities in Europe. Forty percent 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.
With a history spanning five centuries, this walk encompasses old and new gardens and public spaces, some by special arrangement, to see the best of this small pocket of London’s lesser-known gems. Several of these have been created in the bombed-out remains of Wren churches, including the award-winning St Dunstan’s in the East, whose dramatic 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 historic Barber Surgeon’s garden set within the ruins of London Wall also lies on our path. From public space to private gardens the day enters former Carthusian monastery, The Charterhouse, with its English country gardens and mulberry trees 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 the success of his landscaping around the Olympic Park. And renowned Dutch plantsman Piet Oudolf has been responsible for a new park on the South Bank at Potter’s Field which abuts one of the finest pieces of landscape architecture undertaken in London in recent years.
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.
City Hall, SE1 2AA, 9.45am, (nearest Underground station is London Bridge).
Nomura International, EC4R 3AB at approximately 6.00pm, (nearest Underground station is Monument).
£215. This includes special entrances, lunch, morning and afternoon refreshments and one Underground journey.
The distance covered is c. 5 miles and you are on your feet for most of the day while looking and listening. Please don’t attempt it unless you are able to walk at about 3 mph for at least an hour at a time. Stout shoes are of course advisable.
Maximum 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 email@example.com. 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.'