Posts Tagged 'Holland Park'

Flowers in the City

Atlanta Botanical GardenWe went to the Atlanta Botanical Garden, and were dumbfounded to find signs marking the corporate sponsorships of the floral arrangements.

Flowers in London just seemed to appear, without any explanation of who put them there.

The Botanical Garden here was nowhere near as sprawling as Kew Gardens. That’s almost a city unto itself, with a massive lake and forest-sized greenhouses filled with orchids and other exotic plants. It’s also a hike from Central London, while Atlanta’s equivalent is quite central.

London’s got the handle on the urban-floral mix. Regent’s Park, just north of Central London, has a massive rose garden.

Holland Park, west of Central London, has a japanese garden, with a charming bridge over a little pond, flanked by brightly colored blossoms. You could always spot hip “yummy mummies,” or nannies to the rich and famous (my friend ran into a woman who claimed to be Claudia Schiffer’s nanny) pushing their strollers there.

Kensington GardensAnd also just west of the center of town, there’s Hyde Park, my personal favorite, which offers Kensington Gardens.

Just outside Kensington Palace, Princess Diana’s former home, it’s an enclave of neatly manicured hedges and walkways that make you feel like you’re in an English period drama (if you ignore the scores of tourists with recording equipment).

And of course, you can find lots of flowers — without corporate sponsors.

Country Sick

I would say I was homesick, but the UK was only a temporary home. But I miss it still. Watching video of the G-20 protesters by the Houses of Parliament, overlooking the Thames, I got huge pangs for London.
When you leave a place like London, it’s easy to forget why you left: the lack of space, the traffic, the soaring prices…and remember just the fun parts: walking by Buckingham Palace on your way to a show in the West End; strolling along the river on a cool summer’s evening; catching a Shakespearean show at the Globe…
It’s also easy to romanticize the past when you’re facing an eviction from a landlord whose house is about to go into foreclosure. I had some nutty housing situations in London (sleeping on friends’ futons…. living in a tiny studio flat without a washing machine… sharing a three bedroom flat with five people who smoked…) but nothing like this.

But when you go to Holland Park on a sunny day, and the light just illuminates the trees. The sunshine rarely means oppressive heat — or even any heat. On those days when it’s not raining (few and far between, it’s true) it’s idyllic. You feel like you’re in a quaint English garden when you walk down the stairs through the manicured flower gardens.

And your kids are delighted by the wild peacocks who roam randomly through the park. They insist on going back again and again, to see the big blue birds.


And you wonder why you ever left.