Blooming Beautiful – the Flowers and Fauna of London
By Hollie Gibson
Last month, Chelsea burst into bloom with a host of the boldest, biggest and most mind-boggling displays of living art. Gardens designed by the brightest minds in horticulture sprung up near Kensington, brought to life with a little help from the sun, rain and a whole heap of gardening wire. It was an oasis in the big city, a colourful world characterised by the smell of sweet blossoms and the echoing sneezes of hayfever sufferers.
You might think that the one bright spot in the capital’s calendar has been and gone, but the truth is the UK capital is one of the greenest cities going. Amongst the towering hotels are hectares and hectares of grassy hills, flowering beds and, of course, Her Majesty’s marvellous Royal Parks.
So no matter what the season, nothing’s easier than taking a stroll to a knoll, putting the petal to the metal or taking the tube to a tulip – there are hundreds of places to see beautiful flowers and fauna year-round…
Even in the deepest, most urban recesses of London town, you won’t have to head far for lovely flora: simply head to one of the capital’s many parks. At this time of year, Kew Gardens is carpeted with sky-coloured bluebells, Green Park has dazzlingly brilliant beds of daffodils and Hyde Park is replete with richly-toned tulips and pansies.
Go to The Regent’s Park and see their rose garden unfurl into a sumptuous display of delicate pinks, ruby reds and sunset orange. Then, head to Kew Gardens for a sunny walk amongst dainty sweet peas, vibrant crocuses and fragrant lavender bushes.
And when you’re wandering through the more suburban streets, keep your eyes and nose on alert for the gorgeously sweet honeysuckle vines which will be blossoming on walls and trellises at this time.
It’s the season of oddly-named blooms, this: there’s the dramatic (Love-Lies-Bleeding), the archaic (Michaelmas Daisy, Queen Anne’s Lace), and the musical (Morning Glory).
The damp and dreary weather means hardier, earthier plants come into play: it’s now you should be visiting Richmond Park to see the fascinating range of mushrooms and fungi that thrive in the shadows of their impressive trees, or to Spitalfields City Farm, where you and your little ones can explore the harvest from their urban veggie garden.
Rain, hail, puddles and slush: winter weather in London is fairly predictable. So, take a tube ride from your hotel and find nature indoors at the Natural History Museum, where the new Darwin Centre houses over 20 million plant and bug specimens in a cosy architectural cocoon. Along with flowers and fauna are bugs and butterflies, and children will be especially enchanted when they learn that they’re in the place where new plants and insects are given their scientific names.
As you exit through the gift shop, you can look forward to spring by buying one of their bee, butterfly or bird houses. Or, if seeing all the creepy crawly displays has made you squeamish, grab an ethical spider catcher to help you get rid of any skittering critters driven inside by the cold and damp.
Hollie loves to travel and especially wanted to share about flowers in all seasons as she enjoys a wide range of gardening and botany. Hollie is a mother of 1 and enjoys visiting blooming parks throughout the year with her daughter.