Nature-ist: The Winter Gardens, Regent's Park

By paulcox Last edited 119 months ago
Nature-ist: The Winter Gardens, Regent's Park

What is it? A garden that makes the current season look a whole lot better. Two branching paths cut through a collection of conifers, winter-hardy ornamentals, and gnarly trees that look good in the nude.

Where is it?The St. John's Wood edge of Regent's Park, leading between Charlbert Bridge (aka the Tyburn aqueduct) and the football pitches.

Why has it tickled our fancy? The park's original Winter Garden was the first of Europe's great public glasshouses, a 19,000 square foot hall of tropical flora that stood in the Inner Circle from 1846 to 1932 — prototype to the Kew Palm House and even Crystal Palace. The new Winter Gardens aren't nearly so grand or Victorian, abandoning fussy palms and orchids for stalwart plants suitable to the true climate. With most spring-blossoming parks looking rather sad right now, it's a pleasure to visit a patch that's actually in season, and inspires us, just a bit, to shrug off the weather and carry on like these hardy troopers.

Nature notes: The plants cover everything from yellow, purple, and green ornamental conifers to white-barked birches and evergreen rhododendrons. It's a favourite skulking ground of the usual park vagabonds: squirrels, wood pigeons, and ravens, joined by a few winter visitors such as redwings.

Last Updated 11 December 2008