The first signs of spring are a welcome sight in London after the grey, dreary days of winter. From March, the parks and gardens around the city come to life with vibrant crocuses and daffodils, followed by blossoms, magnolia, tulips and more through May. It’s a beautiful time of year and we can start looking forward to warmer weather and days spent exploring the outdoors and picnicking at the parks.
I’ve put together a list of our favorite places around London during the season, along with some tips to help with planning a day out whether you live in London or are visiting on holiday.
Kew Gardens is a pleasure to visit year round and one of the best places to experience springtime in London. There are over 300 acres to explore, with some highlights including the Palm House, Treetop Walkway, Princess of Wales Conservatory and the Natural Area.
Depending on when you visit during spring, there’s plenty to spot: crocuses and daffodils, magnolia trees (near the Azalea Garden), cherry blossoms (behind the Palm House, heading towards the Temperate House), bluebells (at Queen Charlotte’s cottage and the Natural Area) and beautiful flower beds along the Great Broad Walks Border.
Keep an eye out for Kew Gardens’s spring updates and map on their website. I also have a look at the Kew Gardens’s Instagram account, @kewgardens, and @kewplantsman for inspiration to help plan our day.
Tip: Check the “What’s On” page on Kew Gardens’s website for the latest walks, activities and exhibitions running to help plan your visit.
There are several restaurants dotted around, however, I’d recommend bringing along a picnic to enjoy anywhere as you walk around the gardens. For kid’s play areas, there’s the indoor Climbers and Creepers with a cafe and ice cream parlour nearby. The outdoor kids’ playground next to it is closed until Spring 2019, however, the Natural Area is a fantastic spot for outdoor fun with a log trail and human-sized badger sett to explore.
St James’s Park
Daffodils are one of the first signs of spring and usually from early March, you can start to see the flowers in bloom around the London parks. St James’s Park receives the majority of bulbs planted by the Royal Parks, and when in bloom, its thousands of daffodils create a vibrant display of yellow.
Tip: If you’re visiting with children, there’s a playground located across the Wellington Barracks with a large sand pit, play equipment and a climbing area with a slide.
Read more about one of our springtime visits to St James’s Park and Buckingham Palace: Spring Flowers at St James’s Park
Chiswick House & Gardens
The annual Camellia Flower Show at Chiswick House features 33 different displays of camellias at its conservatory. It’s one of the oldest collections in Britain with many of the camellias descended from the original planting in 1828. It usually runs from late February to late March and this year the show ends on 25th March 2018.
I visited recently in early March when it was snowing in London. It was a beautiful taste of spring in the conservatory while the gardens of Chiswick House were a winter wonderland!
On the Lancaster Gate side of Kensington Gardens, and near the Italian Gardens, there are is a grove of blossom trees and at least one magnolia tree which are beautiful to see when they’re in bloom. I wrote about a post about our day out in Kensington Gardens, which included a stop at one of our favorite places – the Princess Diana Memorial Playground.
You’ll also find several pink blossoming trees near the Albert Memorial on the East Albert Lawn.
And across the Serpentine, close to the Knightsbridge side of Hyde Park, there’s this beautiful, tranquil spot with a magnolia tree.
Tip: Visit the LookOut Discovery Centre in Hyde Park for family and well being activities to connect with and learn more about nature, such as yoga, nature discovery days and sunset safaris.
One of the best places to see tulips during spring is at Buckingham Palace, where around 28,000 tulips are planted in the Memorial Gardens each year – a riot of colour that was stunning to see when I visited last year on a sunny day in April.
I found visiting the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park when its azaleas and rhododendrons are in full bloom (around late April to early May) one of the most gorgeous spring experiences in London. The woodland garden bursts with color, these beautiful shades of pink and red.
Tip: Richmond Park will have a minibus operating from 4 April – 31 October 2018 with stops at all car parks and Isabella Plantation, making it easier for people to visit this woodland garden. Have a look at the minibus timetable here.
Also make sure to visit the Royal Parks’s website for a detailed month-by-month guide of what plants you can see at the Isabella Plantation.
Another popular spot for spring flowers is Regent’s Park, where you’ll find beautiful displays of tulips (Avenue Gardens) and cherry blossom trees (Chester Road). It’s the perfect place for a picnic, a stroll through its gardens, a visit to one of its four playgrounds or its outdoor sports area – the largest in London.
Where’s your favorite place, at home or on your travels, to see spring flowers?