I’m having a summer! This is my new mantra and the only explanation for the lack of posts lately. Whenever I feel guilty for not blogging, I repeat this to myself.
Save for work and the occasional peek, I haven’t been spending a lot of time in front of the computer. I’m spending most of my time outdoors getting back to nature.
We’ve taken to having dinner on the beach, watching sunsets and exploring Stanley Park’s interior trails. When you’re winding through thick groves and secluded woodlands, it’s easy to forget you’re still in the middle of a bustling city. This got me thinking of cities and urban green spaces, and ultimately the London Sky Garden – an unusual and creative park – and an interesting push to bring nature back to the city.
My first introduction to the Sky Garden was this unflattering article comparing it to an airport terminal, and then last summer, my aunt who I hadn’t seen since I was seven, suggested that we have our reunion there. I jumped at the idea because I am intrigued by innovative public spaces.
The Sky Garden is a glass domed public garden atop the Walkie-Talkie skyscraper building on Fenchurch Street. The tower, which was initially plagued with sun glare issues was coincidentally sold last month for a whopping for £1.3bn!
So here’s the thing, even though access to the garden is free, guests are still required to book in advance, and get a ticket to gain access to the garden. Booking at table at one of the restaurants or bars gets you in as well. Now that we’ve gotten all that out of the way, how was the visit?
For a city with renowned parks and gardens, the Sky Garden is a nice unconventional addition. I like that it’s different, it’s not trying to be Regent’s Park or even the St Dunstan Garden, another unique and beautiful garden we stumbled upon a block away – originally a church, it was destroyed in the Blitz and the ruins were incorporated into a garden. The Sky Garden is basically sleek elevated public space, thirty-six floors high, combining elements of nature and set against a backdrop of breathtaking city views.
From the top, London stretches out into the horizon, spectacular and unobstructed – there’s the curvy Thames, the Shard, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, the towers of Canary Wharf in the distance and sights beyond. The garden covers three floors of sloping landscaped terraces filled with a lush miniature forest of ferns, cycads, African lilies, lavender, fig trees and other plants. A 360 degree view walk around the garden makes for excellent photography opportunities. There are little sitting and viewing nooks and platforms in the garden, a bright open sitting area with a café on the lower level, restaurants and bars, and a wrap-around viewing balcony.
We were lucky, it was perfect weather for seeing London from high up, albeit a little windy. We stayed out on the balcony for a few shots and went back inside to catch up with my aunt. Being a Londoner, I was interested in her perception of the space. She felt it was more for tourists or a cool roof garden to take guests. She didn’t like that you had to book in advance because it kind of takes away from the spontaneity of dropping in with friends for happy hour.
Overall, we had an amazing time; the Sky Garden offers a wonderful airy atmosphere in a unique setting boasting incredible views of London. It’s most certainly going on my list of unique gardens to visits.
Although I feel like it’s one of those places where elements like crowds and the weather can make or break the experience, so I’d be interested to hear others people’s thoughts of the London Sky Garden.
For now, here are a few more photos from my visit…
20 Fenchurch Street
London EC3M 8AF, UK