Take time out of the urban jungle to discover one of London’s verdant gardens with the kids this summer holidays, says Maggie Davis
Tucked away in the depths of North London, not far from the M25, Myddleton garden is a bit of a hidden gem and is worth a visit for green-fingered fans of all ages. The labour of love of self-taught gardener and botanist Edward Augustus Bowles (a distant relative of Camilla Park-Bowles) there are eight acres of beautifully designed garden to enjoy, within it a Victorian greenhouse and courtyard cafe. If you want to make a day of it, while you are in the area, pop up the road to Forty Hall, an impressive stately home, set within attractive grounds with a woodland play area for children.
Ok, so it’s officially a park but this pleasant green space with its lovely flower beds and pretty paths was once William Morris’ - and later Victorian publisher Edward Lloyd’s - family garden. Back then, surrounded by countryside, the garden’s moat was used for fishing and boating. These days, Lloyd park provides a pretty backdrop for the child-friendly William Morris gallery, which has a range of activities for kids over the summer. Plan that picnic/museum visit now.
Eltham Palace gardens
Winner of London in Bloom Awards 2017, Eltham Palace’s beautiful historic gardens span over 19 pretty acres. Don’t miss the rock garden, which runs down to a moat (children always love a moat) which you can cross on London’s oldest working bridge, no less. On the other side you’ll find the fragrant sunken rose garden. And once you’ve made the effort to get there, it would be rude not to have a look around the splendid palace interiors in their its Art-Deco splendour.
An obvious contender but an unmissable one, Kew has been wowing visitors with its exquisite gardens, arboretum and green houses for 250 years. Covering over 300 acres and with 30,000 plant specimens, kids love it as they can roam around the grounds, gasp at the pagoda and enjoy a fun-packed session in the new adventure park. This year it hosts are awe-inspiring exhibition by glass artist Dale Chihuly - Kew is the perfect backdrop for his brightly-coloured, spiky and organic creations and there’s a family trail around the glass sculptures which kids will love.
The Chelsea Physic Gardens
Originally planted as the royal medicinal garden in 1673, the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries chose this Thames-side location for its proximity to the Thames (apparently there’s a special microclimate). This historical walled Chelsea Physic gardens has over 5,000 medicinal and edible plants. Kids can come and learn about the power of plants in family activity days through the summer and first and last Sunday on the month.
A hidden gem of a garden in the heart of London, this tiny verdant oasis of calm has been soothing frazzled Londoners’ souls since it was opened by a like-minded bunch of folk in 1983. I should know as I was one of the kids who helped set it up. The Phoenix garden really is a great place to sit and have your lunch when you need a bit of respite from busy London.