London's green places

London is famous, of course, for the variety of its cultural life. But people often forget about another aspect of the city: its parks and green spaces.

An incredible 47 per cent of London is “green” and it has eight million trees, making it the world’s largest urban forest. In the City of London – the square mile of the old financial district - there are no less than 400 green areas, while there are over 1,000 across the whole of the city.


London is famous, of course, for the variety of its cultural life. But people often forget about another aspect of the city: its parks and green spaces.

An incredible 47 per cent of London is “green” and it has eight million trees, making it the world’s largest urban forest. In the City of London – the square mile of the old financial district - there are no less than 400 green areas, while there are over 1,000 across the whole of the city.

London is famous, of course, for the variety of its cultural life. But people often forget about another aspect of the city: its parks and green spaces.

An incredible 47 per cent of London is “green” and it has eight million trees, making it the world’s largest urban forest. In the City of London – the square mile of the old financial district - there are no less than 400 green areas, while there are over 1,000 across the whole of the city.

There are royal parks, squares, common land, pleasure gardens, medicinal garden with springs, city farms and a whole lot more. Here’s another extraordinary statistic which is hard to believe: less than two per cent of London is actually covered in concrete.

But enough of facts and figures. What does the capital offer the visitor in the way of nature? Near to the London School of English is Holland Park, which connects to Kensington Gardens, which in turn is linked to Hyde Park. So it’s possible to walk for miles without going on a street. Oh yes, and you can get your cultural hit there too: every summer there is outdoor opera in Holland Park.

St James’s Park, near Buckingham Palace, has a small lake running through it, where it’s possible to feed a fine array of ducks.

If you like flowers, Regent’s Park is the place to go as it has a huge number of herbaceous borders full of colour in the summer. The park also has an outdoor theatre where you can watch Shakespeare plays.

Many tourists go to Greenwich, where as well as the National Maritime Museum, there is a great park sloping down towards the Thames, giving wonderful views of Canary Wharf, the new financial district in the east.

But if you are prepared to travel a bit further you can discover some real gems.  At Kew Gardens in the west there is one of the finest plant collections in the world. Not far away is Richmond Park, which has a more natural look and is home to a large number of deer.

For a taste of the wilder side in north London, go to Hampstead Heath, which is on a hill and overlooks London. You can even go for a swim in the ponds – one for women and one for men. And in the old days, when London was really polluted, the district was considered to have a bracing, healthy climate. It is also the area where many writers and intellectuals choose to live. You might even spot some famous faces walking on the heath.

And looking to the future, there are plans to build a new garden bridge for pedestrians across the Thames. There’s no end to Londoners’ love for all things green.

Happy exploring!

   

Glossary

variety (n.) – of many different types

extraordinary (adj.) – unusual, amazing

array (n.) - range

herbaceous borders (n.) – areas of a garden where flowers grow

sloping (n.) – an incline

gems (n.) – beautiful objects to admire

bracing (adj.) – fresh, invigorating

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