Hyde, Regent, Hampstead and Kew: London has some of the most magical city parks, heaths and commons in the world; but its green spaces found off the beaten track offer a different kind of romance.
For a rendezvous with panache, check out some of the city’s lesser known oases.
The Isabella Plantation, Richmond
Tucked away deep inside Richmond Park, this stunningly beautiful garden, created in the 1830s, is a paradise of azaleas, rhododendrons and ornamental woodland. An oasis of calm off the oft beaten track of the surrounding deer plains, this hidden gem oozes charm and romance. Nearest gates: Ham or Ladderstile; www.royalparks.org.uk for more information.
Red Cross Garden, Southwark
This nineteenth century garden was originally laid out on the site of a burned down paper factory and derelict warehouse, with meandering paths and curved flower beds designed to allow busy Londoners somewhere to lose themselves amid the bustling city. The relics of colourful mosaics, ornamental ponds and a graceful bandstand still hint at the garden’s glamorous past. Redcross Way, SE1 9HR; www.bost.org.uk for more information.
Kyoto Garden, Holland Park
Enter Holland Park via Abbotsbury Road to find this exquisitely maintained Japanese themed garden, complete with koi carp, aqua plantation and the occasional wandering peacock. Despite its central location, it’s hands down one of the city’s most tranquil spots. www.rbkc.gov.uk/ for more information.
Queen’s Wood, Highgate
Just a hundred yards or so from Highgate Station, nestled alongside the better known Highgate Wood, lies Queen’s Wood, a blissful enclave of greenery, carpeted with bluebells and a nature reserve in its own right. Discover the little café ensconced by trees and you can happily while away the hours with your other half. www.fqw.org.uk for more information.
Saint Dunstan-In-The-East Church Garden, St Dunstan’s Hill
Shrubs and climbers weave through paneless arched windows and up into the eaves of the now defunct steeple of this medieval church, bombed during the Blitz and a living relic of the havoc wreaked on wartime London. Office workers in search of calm eat their lunchtime sandwiches in its corners; at most other times its derelict and begging to be explored. EC3R 5DD.
Main image: St Dunstan In The East Church Garden: blog.visitlondon.com