The other week I finally got to visit the “concrete jungle where dreams are made of…” – no not NYC, but a real concrete jungle hidden within the walls of the Barbican.
Ok, ok the Barbican Estate itself isn’t a secret or hidden spot: the brutalist gem is home to an art gallery, theatre, cinemas aaaaaaaaand the botanical conservatory. It’s actually one of my favourite bits of London and whenever I’ve visited I’ve had sneak peaks of the greenhouse, but it’s taken me far too long to properly visit it. Main reason being is that it used only open on selected Sundays and you had to prebook – but recently they’ve flung open the doors to all each Sunday and on some Bank Holidays, with no booking required (plus it’s free!)
So what does London’s second biggest conservatory have to offer? Though its smaller than the expensive and rather remote Kew Gardens, you’ll find over 2000 different species of trees and plants as well as a special cacti and succulents corner. I’ve been to a number of botanical gardens and what makes this one stand out is the concrete backdrop which gives it a feel of a derelict place or setting for a dystopian world. It’s a great way to spend an unhurried hour being closer to nature without having to take the trek. If you’re a big fan and want an excuse to stay longer, they also offer Afternoon Tea amid the greenery.
Big shoutouts to the two little turtles that were chilling in their own private pool and the many colourful fish jostling with each other to get a massage from a water pipe. Plus the many, many photographers you’ll get to spot in their natural habitat. And who can blame them really? I mean look at it…
Overall, the Barbican Conservatory is small, cute and a lovely little reminder that even the greyest concrete can be beautified by nature.