London’s best rooftop gardens
At the top of 20 Fenchurch Street (aka the walkie-talkie), Sky Garden is London’s highest public garden. The garden is made up of three levels dedicated to vibrant greenery, particularly Mediterranean and South-African plants, as well as herbs and other colourful blooms. Sky Garden also has several restaurants and bars beneath its domed ceiling, so you can sip a floral cocktail while you enjoy the foliage - and those ace skyline views.
Free to members of the public and accessed on a first-come-first-served basis, this rooftop green space at 120 Fenchurch Street boasts impressive views of the City of London. Head up to the 15th floor to find a water feature, climbers, planted flower beds and wisteria growing on a steel pergola.
This roof space, just a stone's throw from the City's skyscrapers, is used to grow veggies and herbs that feature on the gastropub's modern menu, so it's double the gherkin up here. There are a few rustic tables parked between climbing vines, or benches to perch on beside planters flourishing with herbaceous life, but in truth, seating is scant, making this a very desirable spot for some peas and quiet. As a result, drifters hover around the entrance to the fourth-floor terrace hoping to snap up a seat – you're best advised to get there early for sunset snacks and supping.
Established as part of the Festival of Britain anniversary in 2011, the roof garden on top of brutalist QEH was set up (and is still run by) volunteers who have experienced homelessness, addiction and mental health problems. The garden is home to over 150 species of native wildflowers, a picnic lawn, fruit trees, a scented garden and even a beehive. The roof and café/bar are open from 10am until 10:30pm during the summer months, and it's still the best place to catch a Waterloo sunset, beer in hand.
The Crossrail Place roof gardens is a haven of greenery providing some respite to the suited and booted residents of Canary Wharf. Although not completely open to the elements, this garden is more than impressive. Many of the species on display here are indigenous to countries such as China and Japan which means that walking around the garden is like a mini stroll of the globe. Plus, it's a great place to chill out on your lunch break.
The Grade II listed Barbican Estate has gained some extra green bits in the way of a lush rooftop garden. Originally a raised podium area which came about thanks to waterproofing works, the garden includes some 22,000 plants - from mixed perennials to grasses and bulbs, which provide richness and colour throughout the flowering season. Keep in mind that this is a residential area, so Beech Gardens are better for quiet reflection than a picnic with mates.
Blooming near Bank underground station, Coq d’Argent is accessed via a private lift, which speedily delivers all customers to a flourishing rooftop garden. Expect to see beautiful ornaments alongside grassy lawns and delicate vines, which become a fabulous backdrop to Coq d'Argent's French cuisine. When it's warm, it makes a great spot for alfresco dining, and don't forget to gaze out at the incredibly striking views of the London skyline.
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