The River Thames is almost as famous as London itself. Winding its way through the heart of the city, it draws in locals and...
London may be a big city, but it’s got plenty to offer its green-fingered visitors. If you’re into all things botanical, or know someone who is, this two-day trip has everything you could ask for.
Hampton Court Palace
Your day begins with a trip to Hampton Court Palace, the former home of King Henry VIII. The quickest way to arrive is via the South West trains service to Hampton Court Station, but if you have time, a summer riverboat service offers wonderful views across the river.
There is plenty to see here, but the world famous gardens are the star of the show. Encompassing 60 acres of formal gardens and 750 acres of parkland, the grounds offer something different depending on what season you arrive, making it perfect for repeat visits anytime of the year.
Petersham Nurseries Café
If you want to continue the floral theme whilst giving you the chance to grab some lunch, a trip to Petersham Nurseries Café in Richmond is a must. You can arrive here in around 40 minutes by taking two buses from Hampton Court Palace, in time to enjoy a wonderful meal from one of the two on-site restaurants.
The Café itself is set within a glasshouse, setting the mood for a floral lunchtime extravaganza where you’ll enjoy the sights of beautiful flowers, the smell of jasmine wafting through the air and the taste of Italian inspired food. If you choose to eat in the Petersham Nurseries Teahouse instead, you’ll find equally delicious fare but with a more traditional lunchtime focus, with sandwiches, salads and cakes to choose from. All of the meals at Petersham Nurseries are prepared with the Slow Food philosophy seeking to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and encouraging farming of plants, seeds and livestock from local sources - all with the aim of sustainability.
Of course, having lunch at Petersham Nurseries Café is as much about your surroundings as it is the food, so be sure to explore the on-site garden and shop before taking a stroll around nearby Richmond Park, where you may even spot a wild deer or two!
After spending the day in the South West, it’s time to return to central London for an evening of food and drink. Getting the 65 bus followed by the District line to Blackfriars Station is the simplest and quickest method of getting to Merchant House and will take just over an hour.
Merchant House is perfect for whiskey lovers – there’s more than 500 varieties on offer – but there’s also a range of cocktails and some best-of-British cuisine. The fresh, floral setting will also create the perfect ambiance to finish the day.
The second day of your plant-themed trip begins at Kew Gardens, one of the most famous gardens in the world. The gardens are well-served by public transport with Kew Gardens Underground station, Kew Bridge mainline station and the 65 bus stop all nearby. Tickets are £14 online and £15 at the gate.
Founded in 1840, Kew Gardens is a delight for anyone interested in the natural world. There are more than 30,000 different kinds of plants in the living collection and in excess of seven million preserved specimens. There’s also a treetop walkway suspended 18 meters above the ground, a Victorian glasshouse and a huge collection of botanical art – there’s more than enough to see and do!
The Ivy Chelsea Garden
From one beautiful garden to another, the next stop on your journey is the Ivy Chelsea Garden. It should take around 50 minutes to get there from Kew Gardens if you take the District line to South Kensington station, but the journey will certainly be worthwhile.
The Ivy Chelsea Garden delivers thirst-quenching cocktails and mouth-watering dishes like chicken Milanese and Atlantic sea scallops, but it also promises a picturesque setting accompanied by beautiful flower displays. Also, why not wander around King’s Road after your meal to see some of the high-end retail outlets available on this famous street?
To round off your two-day exploration of London’s floral highlights, a trip to Mr Fogg’s in Mayfair is in order. The 19 bus to Green Park station will take you around half an hour to get from The Ivy to this self-described “residence of the eccentric British adventurer.”
Although Mr Fogg’s has plenty of wacky delights on offer, including weekly magic shows and some “tipsy tea,” you may be most excited by the Hendrick’s Botanical Garden, an outdoor private events space that promises a “haven of flora, fauna and spirited fortifications.” So, relax and sip a gin or two as you look back on a two-day adventure exploring London’s natural wonders.