19 February 2017 | 11 °C

The City Of London's Tropical Conservatory

The City Of London's Tropical Conservatory

Among the brutalist architecture of the Barbican estate lies a steamy oasis, flush with palms and tropical blooms.

It claims to be the second biggest conservatory in London (Kew taking top prize), and is home to 2,000 tropical plant species. Two ponds are inhabited exotic fish.

An arched wooden bridge leads over the central pond, giving visitors get a bird's-eye view of impressively fat carp.

In the other pond is a group of terrapins. These little troublemakers had to be removed from Hampstead Heath ponds, after terrorising the local native wildlife.

Chillis and even banana trees grow right here in the centre of London.

Outside, visible though off limits to visitors are Barbican's beehives. Those who wander the full length of the conservatory and climb the wooden staircase to the upper deck are rewarded with entry to the cactus house, bristling with spikers of all shapes and sizes.

Barbican Conservatory opens to the public most Sundays, noon-5pm (check before you travel as it sometimes closes for private events). Entry is free, no need to book. Occasionally conservatory tours run (extra charge), check website for details of upcoming tours. You can also book afternoon tea in the conservatory.

Last Updated 06 September 2016