Culture |Escape To The City
1 Floom Magazine Writer Profile James Darton 1


James Darton

Contributing Editor

We introduce plants and flowers into our lives for a great many reasons and occasions, confident in their ability to brighten any environment. Whether you lean towards the scientific explanations behind those good vibes or prefer to indulge in a more wondrous relationship with nature (at Floom we happily sit somewhere in the middle…) there are few who dispute the simple and inherent joys of nature.

If you really want to see just how important this sensation is, all you have to do is take a stroll through our home city of London. Moving daily from outrageously-priced houses via the jam-packed commute to angst-driven offices and back again, it’s easy to get swept up in the drudgery of the rat race. But our capital is also arguably home to some of the most beautiful green spaces ever to grace a metropolis of this scale. Like so many of the social upheavals we benefit from now, it was during the Victorian age that boroughs and wealthy philanthropists alike began to put their money where their mouth is, investing in a splash of nature to break up the increasingly smog-strewn streets.

Here at Floom HQ we’ve had many a discussion about our favourite places to escape within the city when we need to satisfy our cravings for nature. Below are some of the best open, green spaces that London has to offer: some well-known destinations cross-pollinated with areas a little further off the beaten track…

1 Floom Magazine Green Spaces Hampstead Heath 1

Hampstead Heath

Ask any seasoned Londoner about their favourite green spaces in the city, and one of the first utterances is almost always in reference to this sprawling stretch of hilly, diverse terrain. Spanning a whopping 320 acres between Hampstead and Highgate in North London, we’ve enjoyed countless weekend rambles through its woodlands, with some of the more daring members of the team having been known to take a dip in the iconic Highgate ponds..

1 Floom Magazine Green Spaces Isabella Plantation Tomasz Dunn

Isabella Plantation, Richmond Park

This 40-acre section of Richmond Park is a must for any discerning plant lover. Multitudes of evergreen azaleas flourish along the banks of the ponds and stream. No mere garden-variety azaleas, these are in fact the ‘National Collection of Wilson 50 Kurume Azaleas.’ Plant collector Ernest Wilson introduced them to the West in the 1920s, transplanting them from their native Japan to a slightly more manageable location for London-dwelling day-trippers. Here, they make their home amongst a cornucopia of plant life, both native and exotic, rare and unusual.

1 Floom Magazine Green Spaces Kew Gardens Flikr Paula Funnell

Kew Gardens

Another titan of the London green-scene, these botanic gardens are home to the world’s largest collection of living plants. Alongside libraries and flower collections built on a staggering scale - the herbarium features over seven million preserved plant specimens - Kew also manages to find room for pursuits of a more invigorating nature. The treetop walkway, which opened in 2008, is a great way to experience the canopy of a woodland glade from a perspective usually reserved for our feathered friends

1 Floom Magazine Green Spaces Petersham Nurseries 1

Petersham Nurseries

It was in 1970 that Petersham Nurseries first sprang from the grounds of Petersham House, however the garden centre as we know and love it today didn’t really begin to take shape until the turn of the millennium. Its endearingly ramshackle beginnings saw furniture, gifts and antiques weaving in and out of the greenhouses. Even as it continues to evolve, we love wandering amongst these simple beauties which compliment the natural delights on display perfectly. Of course it’s impossible to talk about Petersham Nurseries without allowing our minds to stray from flowers for just a tiny, mouth-watering moment… The Petersham Nurseries Café is a Michelin-starred foray into the flavours of both the English and Italian countryside and one of our favourite places to eat.

1 Floom Magazine Green Spaces Mayfield Lavender Fields Jackie White

Mayfield Lavender

Floom is built on a deep love of flowers in all their majestic, natural beauty, a love shared with our florists and enthusiasts further afield. We struggle to think of anyone who embodies this passion more than Brendan Maye, who fought through innumerable challenges to realise his flower-themed vision: a 25-acre organic lavender farm. An explosion of wondrous purple as far as the eye can see, just 1.5 miles from central London. A true labour of love, Brendan overcame company collapses, sponsorship setbacks and even the entire destruction of his first year crop at the hands of magpies and crows. The stars eventually aligned however, and now each year when Mayfield reopens for the season, we love nothing more than to head south, past Croydon and drench ourselves in this alluring sea of lavender.

1 Floom Magazine Green Spaces Barbican Conservatory Blinkypalermo 1

Barbican Conservatory

We first fell in love with the brutalist exterior of the Barbican, standing defiant against the city skyline. But one of the main things that keeps us coming back is the stunning conservatory that functions as the heart of the complex. Its tropical interior is home to a multitude of fantastical-looking palms and over 2000 species of fish. We love taking a moment’s respite on the bench near the pond, drinking in the tropical sensations and imagining ourselves far far away… It’s the perfect foil for the urban extravaganza that houses it, and therefore also feels like the best place to end our exploration of London’s natural escapes.

Photo credits: Flickr

Barbican: blinkypalermo

Hampstead Heath: Laura Nolte

Isabella Plantation: Tomasz Dunn

Kew Gardens: Paula Funnell

Petersham Nurseries: Herry Lawford

Mayfield Lavender: Jackie White

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