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Thursday, 21 August 2014

Tale of Two Gardens

If you think of London what do you think of I wonder?  Red buses, Buckingham Palace, London Bobbies, Big Ben ... I guess this sort of thing is what springs to mind first but do you ever think of gardens?  We are lucky that London has many green spaces and parks you only have to look at a map to see this is so but there are also gardens filled with flowers too and on Tuesday Mr M and I went up to London to meet up with a couple of Guildford friends to visit one none of us had seen before.  Mr M and I had heard about it when we were on a guided walk last February which took us round Old Kensington and the guide mentioned this particular garden which should have been included in our walk but said that sadly the day of our walk it was not open to the public but that we might like to visit on our own sometime.  We needed to find a day that our friends and we were free, that the garden was open and that the weather was at least likely to be dry - so Tuesday was the day.  We met our friends at lunchtime at the Albert Hall and walked along the High Street to a cafe called Maggie Jones which we'd discovered on the internet.

A country style cafe and not at all the sort of place you'd expect to come across in Kensington being decked out with all manner of country artefacts - real ones not the sort of ersatz stuff that pubs can buy from companies who make such things for decoration.  The tables were scrubbed wood and lit with candles and the ambiance was lovely.  My photo doesn't do it justice but it really was delightful (do check out this link for better pics in their gallery) and the service and food were excellent - we all loved it.  Don't go here if you like fast food and want a quick burger or pizza, although I am sure they could do that for you if you wished, no this is real food freshly prepared and not microwaved and was ideal for us as it gave us time to chat together and catch up on the news. an hour or so later nicely replete we wandered along towards our chosen garden:

The sun was shining....

....the sky was blue and it was beautiful.  We wandered round having the place almost to ourselves - this really is a secret garden!

 A Moorish style "tent" where one could sip mint tea whilst looking out over the garden perhaps? Or even have a nice lie down on the day bed perhaps!

A formal pond with fountains viewed from the "tent".

A pretty stream with fish.

 Yes that is a flamingo - there were 4 of them called Bill, Ben, Splosh and Pecks in this garden.

Those round "windows" in the walls had views of London (including the ubiquitous cranes!) to be seen through the wrought iron work.

Lovely shaded covered walks.

Hidden corners in the English woodland area and here we came across a mother duck and her adolescent youngsters who'd found a quiet and safe area of a small pond to live.

As you will see, if you read this plaque, this was no ordinary garden but is set 100 feet above Kensington High Street in central London.  Originally atop Derry and Tom's department store which opened in 1933, now no longer trading, there are three themed gardens, a Spanish garden a Tudor garden and an English woodland area too with over 70 full size trees, a flowing stream stocked with fish and the resident flamingoes. Hard to believe that below was the busy noisy street filled with traffic and shoppers!  An amazing garden and the roof must have been capable of taking an enormous weight to have all that going on up there but it was beautiful. Well worth a visit especially as it is free to look round the only difficulty is in trying to find a day you are free when the weather is good that they are actually open but if you are interested see this link for the number to contact and for more info.

Having had our fill of this amazing place we descended to street level and found it was raining - just a short shower but how lucky had we been that it was so lovely whilst we were above in the roof garden - or maybe we were above the clouds!  We wandered round to Kensington Square where this enclosed garden is the oldest such garden in London having been founded in 1685.  This one is private (photo taken through the railings) and belongs to the residents of the Square so we wandered on .......

..... past this lovely building with its box and geranium planters - pretty isn't it?

We crossed Kensington High Street and into our second garden at Kensington Palace.  As you will see the sun was back and the rain all finished - the shower had lasted perhaps 5 minutes so barely worth mentioning!

 Here is the Italian Garden which you can only view from the edges - no entry allowed!

There were herbaceous borders and covered pergola walks but too many people for decent photos here.

 The Round Pond which has recently been refurbished apparently.

 Having explored this garden we were ready for a sit down and a cup of tea and afterwards we then realised it was time to go if we were to catch our respective trains.  Our return to Waterloo was not without its problems though as we stood waiting at the bus stop for ages and ages watching number 9 buses going the opposite way but never coning back before we discovered a notice on the far side of the bus stop pole informing us that due to road works the route had been altered and the number 9 bus would not come this way!  We caught a bus to Victoria instead thinking that we would surely be able to get a connecting bus from there but Victoria was a building site where multi-million pound improvements are being made and we had to walk some distance before we found a bus stop at which a bus for Waterloo would stop!  We did of course get to the station eventually and bade each other goodbye before boarding our respective trains. Another lovely day out - I do so love being retired and able to do such trips. Truly summer 2014 has been a fabulous year for outings.

Many thanks for your kind comments on my previous posts - maybe if I stay home for a few days I might get the bag finished and some more sketches done!


  1. That roof garden is absolutely incredible!

  2. What an amazing garden, some of your photos did look like you were in Spain.
    I don't know about not letting people into the Italian garden at Kensington Palace, I know they want to keep it pristine but aren't gardens supposed to be walked in.
    V x

  3. It's wonderful and on a roof top, how fantastic. Weirdly I was looking at pictures of this very same garden on another blog this morning but can't for the life of me remember which one!

  4. I've bookmarked the roof garden for my next visit when ever that may be !!

  5. It's wonderful to be in London and not go near a shop. There are so many wonderful parks and 'secret' gardens.

  6. Oh wow ... I want to go to the roof garden and Maggie Jones next time we are in London. We are hoping to go in October ... I wonder if they will be open then?

  7. An amazing roof garden! There are so many wonderful sights to see in London. Must get there one day.

  8. Great photos that brought back memories, I grew up a stone's throw from here and Kensington Gardens was my playground. It might look grand, but its used by everyone and the mix of people of all nationalities makes it a lovely place to visit. Funnily enough I've never been to the roof gardens, so after seeing your brilliant photos I'll definitely have to put that right on my next visit.

  9. That roof garden looks amazing, I shall make a note about it and try and find a day to visit when I next go to London. Have you ever been to the Chelsea Physic Garden? I think you'd find it really interesting.

  10. How lovely to see that amazing roof garden. I've seen it on the television, it's wonderful, I especially love the flamingoes. I'm glad you had such a lovely day, and that you're enjoying all of your trips. Have a good weekend. CJ xx

  11. If ever I'm in London......must visit this garden.
    Amazing re- the Flamingos and that all that garden was so high up!
    Thanks for sharing! x

  12. Wow looked like a great trip! I really do love london!

  13. When I think of London, I think of crowded streets, crowded with people and with traffic. So your post has given me something lovely to look at instead! Keep on traveling and sharing your wonderful photos with us.

  14. What an amazing roof garden and what a fabulous day! Looking at your photos I would've never guessed that it was above the street level. They even have flamingoes there! Thank you for yet another lovely virtual trip, Jane!

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