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Visiting The Gardens
The gardens at The Roof Gardens are spectacular and best of all, they're open to the public to visit free of charge. As we near the end of the year and the Christmas party season gets in full swing the Gardens are very busy with private events and so will not be open to the public, but please check back here in the New Year for updated availability.
If the gardens are in use you can always book a table in Babylon Restaurant for a bird’s eye view of the English Woodland Garden. If you’re hoping to see the gardens please do let us know when you make your reservation so we can do our best to arrange an escorted tour. Please note that these will be subject to availability.
Based on the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, this garden has a distinct Moorish flavour.
You’ll be transported to a Spanish haven seemingly hundreds of miles away from the hustle and bustle of the streets below. The garden is made up of colourful English plants and flowers as well as Mediterranean trees to give the garden a Spanish feel that will survive London winters.
The striking colours and modern layout are all from the original plan of the gardens from 1938.
Stroll through the Tudor Walkway and you will find the three courtyards that make up the Tudor Garden. The garden uses red brick walls and four Tudor style arches to take you back to another age.
This area represents plants that would be recognised in Tudor England. During the 1970s this area was planted with only black and white flowers by then occupant, Barbara Hulanicki, founder of the iconic fashion brand Biba - the inspiration for today’s dramatic look.
Under the expansive umbrellas this is still a restful place to sit and eat no matter what the English weather has to throw at us. In the winter months this area is covered with a marquee and planted with a winter garden.
The English Woodland Garden blooms with colour when thousands of narcissus, crocus, muscari, snowdrops, and bluebells burst into life.
Some of the trees found in our English Woodland are 75 years old including the American Red, Mulberry Tree and Japanese maple. Due to the age and size of the trees, a tree preservation order is in place meaning it is a criminal offence to remove or damage any of them.
The English Woodland is also where our birds live! We have Mandarin and Carolina Wood Ducks which are native to the Southern hemisphere and our 4 resident Flamingos.
Towards the back of the English Woodland is the pond where our resident flamingos generally like to hang out. Our flamingos can withstand temperatures as low as -14°C, so our temperate climate doesn’t give them too much trouble. In addition to the flamingos, we also have a number of exotic ducks which all have clipped wings to keep them within the safe confines of our unique habitat.
The Roof Gardens were the dream of Trevor Bowen, the vice president of John Barker & Co. In 1936 he employed landscape architect Ralph Hancock to realise his vision. The gardens took two years to build at a cost of £25,000 and opened to the public in May 1938.
A shilling was charged for entry which raised over £120,000 for local charities over 30 years. The depth of the soil is 18-inches with drainage made of bricks and clinker over a waterproof membrane. Ralph Hancock brought in over 500 species of plants and shrubs and even imported rock from Pennsylvania for his alpine planting!
There are seven trees which remain from this original planting and the gardens have been acknowledged as a place of ‘Specific Historical Interest’ and given a Grade II listing by English Heritage.
The space on the 6th floor of the building was run as Regine’s – a restaurant and nightclub, until 1981 when Sir Richard Branson became the owner and transformed the interior into an amazing events space, restaurant and private members club which you see today.