You've probably heard of, or even been to, Holland Park's Japanese Kyoto Garden. A combination of its impressive photogenicity and invitingly peaceful setting mean that it's one of London's least-secret 'secret' gardens.
Known for its colourful blossom trees, the Kyoto Garden is also home to a rock waterfall, a pond with some pretty koi carp, and of course, Holland Park's famous peacocks.
But how did a slice of Japanese horticulture end up in W8?
Holland Park has a fascinating history. It used to centre around Holland House — previously known as Cope Castle — but the building was largely ruined in the second world war. King James I once spent the night at Cope Castle, and it was used as an army headquarters during the English civil war, with Oliver Cromwell dropping in regularly. The Holland name comes from the Earl of Holland, who inherited the house. The gardens earned their horticultural prowess by being one of the first locations in England to successfully cultivate Dahlias.
But the Kyoto Garden is a much more recent addition. It was donated by the Chamber of Commerce of Kyoto, in recognition of the Japan Festival held in London in 1992 — including the first international sumo wrestling competition at the nearby Royal Albert Hall. Kyoto is well-known for its gardens, and a well-known Japanese designer worked with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea to create the this one.
In 2012, a second Japanese garden was opened within Holland Park, the Fukushima Memorial Garden. This commemorates the 2011 Fukushima earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. It was opened by the Embassy of Japan, as a symbol of thanks to the British people for their support following the disaster. Two Japanese gardens with two very different reasons behind them.
Holland Park, Ilchester Place, W8