London’s Secret Garden

One of my favourite movies as a kid was The Secret Garden. The premise is essentially that three friends discover a secret garden  and all sorts of wonderful things happen. Since I’ve seen that movie numerous times, I have always loved the idea of a garden as sanctuary, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the world, where one could simply stroll in, admire and also have a picnic.

On a recent trip to London, walking through the financial district, I saw some trees tucked away on a quiet cobblestone road. It seemed a little out of place considering the area and how it juxtaposed with the futuristic, sci-fi buildings of various financial institutions (as example, see the insurance giant Lloyd’s building).

All photos of St. Dustan-in-the-East by Peter Trimming

To my surprise, I walked over and discovered St Dunstan-in-the-East.

It was remarkable even at this time of the year.

I also found great photos online of what St. Dunstan’s looks like in full-leafed summer glory. I’m sharing them here as they really do the place justice.St. Dustan’s was a Church of England parish church originally built in 1100. The gothic-style church was largely destroyed in the Blitz during the Second World War.After the war, it was decided that St. Dustan’s church would not be rebuilt. The ruins were left untouched for over three decades.It was only in 1971 that the City of London decided to turn the ruins of the church into a public garden.With wall shrubs and climbers, tall trees and a fountain in the middle, today it is the perfect garden retreat.This green oasis is busy on weekdays during lunchtime with office workers eating their lunches and taking it easy.St. Dunstan-in-the-East is a wonderful example of creative reuse and satisfies all of my childhood daydreams of a secret garden.

Do you know of any other secret gardens in London?

My Favourite Thing About London

Whenever I travel to a city, I always gravitate to its green spaces. It was no different during my recent trip to London.

Coming across Henry Moore’s “The Arch” sculpture

I love that London is a city with plenty of green and open spaces, especially since I strive to go for a walk every day since I have learned of all the physical health benefits associated with being in nature. Research suggests that our mind works differently in nature from when we are on a busy city street because we process things differently. We observe the birds and the way the trees sway.

In London, I started each day with a long morning walk through Hyde Park.

Swans are a common sight on the Round Pond

A walk through Hyde Park, located in the heart of London, was an ideal setting to relax, meditate and observe the diverse variety of species of flora and fauna.

One of the city’s largest parks, it is definitely a park worth getting lost in. There are many paths to wander and you are bound to come across something new each time. It has many famous landmarks like the Serpentine Lake, Speakers’€™ Corner and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain.

My favourite part during my walks were the little bursts of life wherever I turned. You can’t help but be in a good mood and feel a sense of joy and optimism as spring is most definitely around the corner.

Daffodils
A very fragrant flowering shrub

Hyde Park is also great because there are several well-situated cafés that offer a hearty breakfast and wonderful views. My favourite pit-stops were the Lido Café and the Serpentine Kitchen. Both offer great views of the Serpentine Lake and a strong cup of coffee – all I could ask for.

The Serpentine Bar & Kitchen – perfect for breakfast

I concluded my walks at the Italian Gardens, an ornamental water garden in Kensington Gardens, created as a gift from Prince Albert to his wife Queen Victoria.

After my walk, I was back on the city streets of London, ready to conquer the day.

Do you like to go for walks? Where’s your special place?