Azaleas in the Isabella Plantation

Isabella PlantationYesterday Yannick, Travelling Dave and I set off on an expedition to the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park. If you’re a west Londoner you’ll be wondering why I describe it as an expedition when you go there all the time, but for a north Londoner like me it’s a trek into unknown country. What attracted us was the reputation of the azaleas in the Isabella Plantation and we weren’t disappointed. Continue reading

Bluebells and Wisteria at Osterley Park

Osterley Park wisteriaI’ve been through Osterley on the tube dozens of times on my way to Heathrow and I always think to myself that one day I’ll get off and visit Osterley Park. The years have rolled by and the trips to Heathrow gone on, but the visit to Osterley Park has eluded me – until now.  What a lot I’ve been missing. Continue reading

Just for a change: magnolias at Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens magnoliaWhen I was at Kew Gardens last week I took at look at the little blackboard by the entrance on which they write what’s worth seeing that day. It said magnolias, and I have to admit it was right. I’ve never thought of going to Kew for the magnolias before, but they are spectacular, so I thought I’d share some pictures with you. Continue reading

2015 Cherry Blossom April Update – Alexandra Palace

Alexandra Palace cherry blossomGosh, I owe Alexandra Palace an apology. I posted my London Cherry Blossom Guide two years ago and I’ve been updating it regularly since then, but not once have I mentioned Alexandra Palace, even though I live nearby. It just never occurred to me it was a top cherry blossom viewing spot, and somehow I never went there in cherry blossom season. Until now, that is. And now I know better. Continue reading

They’re taking the axe to the cherry trees in Regent’s Park

Chester GateIt feels like the end of an era – and it is in a way. The avenue of cherries trees along Chester Road leading to Chester Gate, the glory of the cherry blossom season in Regent’s Park, is going. They’ve cut down half of them, and the rest will go on Monday. Not even the stumps are left – just bare earth. Continue reading

The Japanese Landscape at Kew – the definitive tour

Kew Gardens Japanese Landscape It’s all too easy to visit gardens without knowing much about them and come away still knowing very little. That’s what I’ve often done with the Japanese landscape garden at Kew. But not any more; thanks to a tour led by one of Kew’s specialist horticulturists, I’ve learned a massive amount and I’m going to share it with you now. It’s the expert’s guide, straight from the horse’s mouth.  Continue reading

Rhododendrons and Azaleas at Kenwood House

Kenwood House rhododendron I’d like to pretend that I made a special trip to Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath just to see the rhododendrons and azaleas in full flower, with the visit carefully timed to catch them at their peak. But I’m afraid it didn’t happen like that. I actually went with a group of Twitter friends to see the house, which has been closed for refurbishment for years but has finally reopened, forgetting all about the famous rhododendron garden until we rounded a corner of the house and saw it in all its glory. Continue reading

The Japanese Garden in Regent’s Park

Japanese Garden in Regent's ParkI’ve travelled all over London to visit obscure Japanese gardens in out of the way places, but all the time I never realised there was one much closer to home – in Regent’s Park, no less. It’s part of Queen Mary’s Garden and it’s not just a garden, it’s a whole island. In case you’ve missed it too, let me take you on a short tour. Continue reading

Regent’s Park Cherry Blossom Virtual Tour

Regent's Park cherry blossomIt’s really hard to get the timing right with cherry blossom. When the lovely grove of pink cherries at the south of Regent’s Park flowered early this year, in mid-March, I thought I‘d blown it. But no! I visited the park yesterday and it was perfect timing – I even caught the avenue along Chester Road in full flower which I’ve never managed to do before. So I decided to share it all with you in my Regent’s Park cherry blossom virtual tour. Continue reading

A Lesson in Bonsai

Bonsai at Kew GardensOnce again the Japan Society came up trumps with a great trip to Kew Gardens to learn about bonsai. And again I have to make a confession – though I’ve been to Kew a lot and was sure I’d seen all the Japanese stuff there (Chokushi Mon, Minka House, Japanese Landscape Garden – done!) I’ve never been to look at the bonsai.  Continue reading