hanging gardens of barbican

A few weeks ago my partner arranged a ‘mystery’ weekend activity for us. Because I’m very good at guessing, I wasn’t given a single clue as to where we were going. To my delight, our destination was the Barbican Centre in the City of London. (For those who don’t know, the Centre is located within theĀ Barbican Estate, a huge multipurpose complex of high-rise residential, civic, theatre and community buildings, built in London’s celebrated but divisive Brutalist architectural style.) We’ve been to the Barbican several times before at different times of the year, and personally I can’t get enough of the place. But the purpose of this adventure, and a complete surprise to me, was to visit the conservatory. Initially designed as an afterthought to ‘disguise’ the theatre’s fly tower, it’s a fantastic sub-tropical oasis (and arid desert!) in the sky.


Shakespeare Tower


Koi pool


Giant bamboo


Strelitzia reginae… otherwise known as ’emu flower’ in my native country


Love this! like a psychedelic shamrock!


Succulent close-up


Cacti garden


Bridge over the stream


The fly tower






View out of the conservatory onto the rooftop terrace… about 6 levels up here


Restaurants and bars to the left, apartments on pedestals on the right. The theatre is behind the restaurants, and the conservatory up the top and well out of sight



Definitely coming back here in the summer for a vino (or two!)

As you can see from the photos, we almost had the garden to ourselves. A quick google search shows that the conservatory isn’t really a secret, but it was such a joy to discover a unique garden space in the heart of the city open for all to appreciate while at the same time not over-run and therefore spoilt. And you can even get married in the gardens if you wish!! I hope you enjoyed these photos of the Barbican Conservatory as much as I did.



what a cac(tus)!

Each time I pass my local florist where I see rows of brightly flowering cacti, I can’t help but wonder what the secret is in getting these spiky delights to bloom. Despite a great show of colour when I purchased it, my own cactus (which I’ve previously featured on my blog here), stubbornly refuses to flower – no matter what diet and living positions I offer as way of enticement.

So the other day while passing, I spontaneously went in to see if the florist could offer any tips on getting cacti to flower. “Excuse me, ma’am”, I started. “I’ve been admiring your colourful cacti, and can’t help but……” “The flowers are fake” she shouted, abruptly cutting me off. “They are pinned onto the cacti. They come like this from Holland.”

photo (12)

Sure enough, on closer inspection, the flowers were made of plastic. True to the florist’s word, they were rudely pinned to each little cactus, in a fraudulent display of gaudy colour. And as my own cactus glares at me, triumphant in its prickly green glory, I am still no closer in knowing how I can coax it to flower.