Design, In the Garden

Inspiring Garden Design: London’s Small Gestures

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England’s justifiably famous gardens receive so much attention that sometimes one forgets that this heritage of “greening” trickles down to small gestures in urban surroundings. I’m always fascinated to see what surprises London holds; walking through a residential area like Belgravia or Knightsbridge and catching sight of a verdant front door vignette can make the stroll that much more pleasurable.




Or coming upon a shop’s window or entrance display…especially during the Chelsea Flower Show when many of London’s shops dress up in enthusiastic support of this annual event.


The Goring Hotel’s facade (both window boxes and wrought iron fencing) is planted year ’round with floral details, to which I can attest having been there just this past January as well as many springs in the past. Their back garden (the largest of any hotel in central London) adds to the impression that you are residing in a comfortable private home.



Of course, what would London be without its mews, that seem to be hidden around corners just when you need a dose of “charm” and a touch of green.


And directly next door, this tiny, rectory with its front garden no larger than a walk-in closet (don’t forget to look up to the roof’s edge) is a gesture ones cannot overlook.


Small gestures also require a sharper eye on proportions and appropriateness. With gates as grand as those around Buckingham Palace, a bit of green is kept simple with merely a well mowed lawn area and square garden beds with just one variety of green plant material and a single, spiraled evergreen centered on each.


Lastly, but very importantly, that small and gracious gesture that invites a passerby to stop and rest within a park-like setting created by contemporary planter boxes and wooden topped seating areas.



Grand parks and dramatic vistas are a celebrated part of London, but what sets it so apart for me is that this very large metropolis still finds the opportunity to introduce a spot of green wherever possible.

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Bettie Bearden Pardee

About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

6 thoughts on “Inspiring Garden Design: London’s Small Gestures

  1. So beautiful is London and the Chelsea.
    Dick and I are reminiscing May, 1984 and the warmest on record. Did not give the British a flutter!

  2. Very pretty! I haven’t been to London in twenty years. I remember the hotel where I stayed gave me a key to have access to the lovely small garden across the street.

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