Out and About

Parks under threat

by Alice Wright

They are often described as the “green lungs” of a city – leafy, rejuvenating oases amid the smog and crowds of urban life. But our much-loved parks are “close to crisis point”, according to The Parks Alliance, a body formed last year in response to growing concern about public green spaces.

Grosvenor Estate’s Parklet Creates a Buzz


The first parklet on a street corner in Belgravia has been launched by The Grosvenor Estate. The purpose of this tiny, temporary, pocket-garden oasis, the size of three parking spaces, is to bring residents, shop owners and visitors together and, in an area where public seating is scarce, offer a resting-place for passers-by and somewhere for local employees to take a break.

Herbal medicine:gardens to visit

by Abigail Willis

Plants have been used in medicine for millennia and the World Health Organisation estimates that 80% of the world’s population still relies mainly on herbal medicine for its wellbeing. Even in the west it’s become routine to describe gardening as therapeutic, but how many of us really appreciate or understand the actual healing properties of the specimens that we so lovingly tend? Suddenly however medicinal plants are high on the agenda; with permanent displays and temporary exhibitions springing up across the country, we can explore the use of these botanical wonders through history as well as their future benefits.

Chelsea Fringe 2014

by Rhiannon James

If you’ve not sampled the delights of the Chelsea Fringe before, you should know what you’re taking on. The Fringe, which runs until June 8th in cities across the UK, not to mention Vienna, Ljubljana and Turin is the Chelsea Flower Show’s wild adopted sister (they’re not blood relations). While the elder Chelsea is sensible, well turned out and highly organised, the younger roams the streets, full of new, and sometimes crazy, ideas and rarely refuses a party.

Keukenhof Spring Garden Holland: Tulip Mania

by Drucilla James

On arriving at the Keukenhof, all you see at first is a mass of dazzlingly-coloured tulips and crowds of people capturing artistically posed selfies in amongst the blooms or assiduously disregarding the ‘do not walk on the grass’ notices to be photographed by their loved ones. Yet other amateur cameramen, inspired by the sheer exuberance of ‘the most beautiful spring garden in the world’, are composing close-up images of flower interiors and blossom clouds.

The World’s Smallest Garden Show

by Rhiannon James

The planting is a little static, the hard landscaping choices are perhaps a bit synthetic and the visitors allowed past the barriers are dauntingly silent – but all of that’s okay in these particular show gardens as they’re only half a square metre in size.

Ostentatious Orchids at Kew

by Drucilla James

On gale-blasted, rain-soaked, drab winter days what could be better than to enter the warm and brilliantly-coloured world of the orchid festival in the Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew.

Botanical Gardens: Jardin des Plantes, Paris

by Abigail Willis

Even on a grey day in January there is much to savour in the Jardin des Plantes. Its 24 hectares are very much part of inner city Parisian life, a place to stroll or jog, gossip on a bench, exercise les p’tits, or perhaps even admire the horticulture

Fulham Palace: bishops’ garden blooms again

by Abigail Willis

Acting head gardener Lindsay Schuman has a good excuse for not double-digging the new veg beds at Fulham Palace gardens: she’s simply not allowed to. Packed with archaeological interest, and home to the Bishops of London for over 1000 years, Fulham Palace is a protected site and that goes for its soil as much as its venerable Grade I listed buildings. Within the 2-acre walled garden the permitted digging depth is 30 cms, while in the 11 acres beyond its mellow brick walls, the limit is a scant 10cm. It’s not however a restriction that’s cramping anyone’s style – this is a garden poised to reclaim its rightful place in horticultural history.

Indoor gardens to visit in London

by Abigail Willis

Garden visiting is all very well in the summer but once autumnal mists and mellow fruitfulness give way to full-blown winter, enthusiasm (along with daylight hours) tends to wane. In London however, the December doldrums don’t have to put paid to the fun – the following are great places to escape the horizontal rain and Siberian winds and experience some fabulous indoor gardening action.