Wednesday, 6 June 2012 7:47 AM
If you intend to spend some time in London this summer, take the opportunity to visit some of its splendid gardens. The city is home to a host of wonderful green spaces, which are ideal for visiting during a relaxing break. Read our guide to some of the top places to visit.
Should you be planning to take your break in London soon, time your getaway to coincide with the Open Garden Squares Weekend 2012. Taking place on June 9th and 10th, this fabulous event opens up more than 200 communal gardens – which are otherwise closed to the public – for exploration.
You will need to purchase a ticket, which you can do either in advance or on the weekend itself, although the latter option will be more expensive. A single ticket allows you to visit all the gardens on the programme, which include Eaton Square and The Royal College of Physicians medicinal garden, among many others.
If, however, you intend to travel later in the year, there will still be plenty of beautiful gardens to explore. Perhaps the city's most famous, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, are an absolute must to add to your itinerary.
Spanning 300 acres, these gardens have a 250-year history and are home to more than 30,000 plant species, as well as a host of exciting buildings and decorative structures. Indeed, there is so much to see and do that it is easy to spend an entire day exploring here. What's more, there are also attractions and activities for children, so, if you are travelling as a family, you need not worry about little ones getting restless.
There is an excellent selection of gardens to explore, including the fantastic Rock Garden, which dates back to 1882 and is home to a host of fascinating plants. Meanwhile, to get an unforgettable bird's-eye view, visit the Rhizotron and Xstrata Treetop Walkway. Positioned some 18 m in the air in the arboretum, it gives you the chance to walk among the tops of sweet chestnut, oak and lime trees.
Kensington Gardens are another great place to visit. These cover 275 hectares and are home to the famous Italian Gardens, which are believed to have been created by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria. Situated on the north side of the site, this ornamental water garden is filled with ponds, impressive statues and fountains.
Occupying a more central location, the Chelsea Physic Gardens is a great choice for a quiet stroll. In fact, this is the oldest botanic garden in London and is home to a wonderful collection of medicinal, edible and historical plants.
Take a walk around here and you will be able to see things like the most northerly outdoor grapefruit tree in the world, and Britain's largest outdoor fruiting olive tree. The gardens' warm microclimate means that many species usually not grown in the UK tend to thrive here, so there are lots of rare sights for you to enjoy.
These are just a few of the wonderful gardens to explore in London. There are excellent examples all over the city, so it is a good idea to choose a centrally-located hotel – such as the Cumberland hotel near Marble Arch and Hyde Park – to make it easier to reach a good selection of them, as well as the city's other attractions.