Nature-ist: The SOAS Japanese Roof Garden

By M@ Last edited 123 months ago
Nature-ist: The SOAS Japanese Roof Garden

What is it? Patio on steroids above the School of Oriental and African Studies.

Where is it? The rooftop garden forms part of the Brunei Gallery, which displays artwork of African and Asian persuasion. You can find it just North-West of Russell Square, on the main UCL campus. Head up to the first floor of the gallery to access the garden.

Why has it tickled our fancy? Gardens and parks rarely look their best during the miserable winter months. No buds, shoots or blossom; few leaves and fewer flowers; apian absence and nowhere a butterfly. This Japanese Roof Garden, on the other hand, looks stunning all year round thanks to a sturdy emphasis on mineral over animal and vegetable. Steadfastly refusing to put the bloom into Bloomsbury, the garden is instead a geologist's Eden. Granites, sandstone and basaltic rock rub shoulders with Norwegian Larvikite in a gravy of gravel, while a raised meditation area doubles as a handy performance space for passing biwa players, as shown in the photo.

Nature Notes: A checkerboard planting of lemon thyme and a border of wisteria are the sole green touches in this school of rock. But here on the rooftops you can banish the noises of street level and occasionally catch birdsong.

The Japanese Garden is free to visit and open any time the Brunei Gallery is, normally Tuesday to Saturday 10.30am to 5pm.

Last Updated 10 November 2008