28 Dec A date with the Barbican Conservatory
As we know, with a lot of first dates, it’s about timing. Is he/she ready, in the mood or would you really rather just be sitting in front of the sofa than meeting someone new? Admittedly it’s rather more seasonal, but visiting gardens for the first time is pretty similar. I knew I would love the concrete jungle glory of the Barbican Conservatory, but I also knew I had to play it right.
Given the choice, I would always rather visit a garden first thing in the morning on a week day. Not just because the light is lovely, but mainly because it’s often at its most peaceful. I love Kew, but you couldn’t drag me there a few days before Christmas with all the crowds and pushchairs.
So when the Conservatory is only open to the public on a Sunday, it can get very busy, so I knew I had time it right. So I made a note that it was open on the Tuesday 27th December in the ‘olidays and wondered if we’d be sober or fit enough to lift ourselves off the sofa to go.
Well, we did and we were pretty well rested (if you can call eating and drinking for two days without moving ‘resting’) and ready for the big outdoors.
And it was all I imagined. The famous curved concrete edge of the Barbican Centre is an amazing and totally unique backdrop to the second largest indoor jungle in London. Lord knows, how the gardeners make all the tropical plants so happy when so far from their comfort zone and in such a varying environment. The palms and fiddle leafs are some of the tallest I’ve seen, as only a tree can be that’s been safely sitting in a big glass house for the last 30 years with a bit of TLC.
On entering you have that exciting feeling that all the best gardens give you – where to go first? As I left my boyfriend behind to hurriedly explore. Despite the massive nature of the plants and conservatory, attention to detail is everywhere, with little kokedama and new plants, showing this jungle is very much loved, even in December. There’s even a cacti room for your prickly friends.
I loved the green life next to the brutalist vibes and it doesn’t finish at the conservatory, as the residents all around the Barbican adorn their homes with balcony plant life.
So next time you’re counting down the sleeps to Christmas, add on a few extra and check the dates for when it’s open. As you can find peace in London at Christmas, even in what must be the ultimate concrete jungle.
“More grows in the garden than the gardener sows.”