91 editor Caroline spends an afternoon exploring one of London’s best kept secrets - the Barbican Conservatory.
I love London, I really do. What I love is that no matter how long you live here there will always be something new to discover, or somewhere that’s been there forever but you just never knew about it. This was the case for me with the Barbican Conservatory. Nestled in the heart of the Brutalist complex, that Londoners either love or hate (I love), is a verdant oasis - in fact the second largest conservatory in the city, after Kew.
The conservatory is only open to the public on certain Sundays and bank holidays, so best to check online before you plan a trip, but the added bonus is that it offers free entry. Plant lovers will most likely lose a few hours wandering the leafy pathways and exploring the various levels, viewing the vast collection of tropical plants from all angles.
As someone who has become a tad houseplant-obsessed over recent years, it was so interesting to see so many of the varieties that I have added to my own home is this environment, where they’ve been allowed to run a little bit wild. I was in awe of the giant, unruly monsteras, the roof-skimming fiddle leaf figs and the hefty pileas. I’ve since discovered that you can do a 60-minute guided tour of the conservatory with their resident gardener to find out more about the history of the place and it’s immense collection, for which tickets are just £12.50. Alternatively, you could treat yourself to afternoon tea amongst the greenery, with the cakes and savouries all inspired by a fruit, flower or herb grown in the conservatory.
Make sure you scale the steps to the top of the glasshouse where the arid room is located. This was one of my favourite areas - packed with an impressive collection of cacti and succulents, wonderfully established jade plants and the most phenomenal burro’s tail I’ve ever seen!
An excellent way to spend a carefree Sunday in the city and will likely encourage even the least green-fingered amongst us to acquire a potted friend or two!
Details of opening times can be found on the Barbican’s website.