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Barbican An open garden in London

Silk Street



United Kingdom

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Latest photos of Barbican

  • View of Barbican Pools
    By Horner
  • Feed the Ducks at Barbican
    By Horner
  • Heron by Pool
    By Horner
  • Barbican Pools in July
    By Horner


Reviews and comments on Barbican


Monstrosity with a Garden

When I first went to Barbican eight years ago, it was late at night for a film. It was dark and I got lost. I remember thinking that no one could ever enjoy spending time there. The Barbican is such a huge complex that it has yellow stripes of paint on the pavement to help you find the exits. I thought it to be a monstrosity. Today, I have to admit that the Barbican is one of my favourite places in London. What made it so is a bog garden.

When I was young, I used to get into heaps of trouble for going to the creek at the back of the farm. Over and over again, I was told not to go there, because there were too many snakes. I thought it wonderful to go swimming and fishing there. What made it so was that there was no one anywhere around. In fact, there were no signs that anyone had ever been there. No houses, no cars, nothing. Just trees, sand, water, sun, shade, fish…and snakes.

One year ago, I discovered the bog garden at Barbican. Already this season, the first algae started growing, as well as the bulrushes and other flowering plants. When the water was first warming, there was frog spawn in three different places…some in the shade, some in the sun. The patch in the sun hatched faster than those in the shade and I watched the first tadpoles swimming away. Today, I noticed a Mallard drake hiding in the bulrushes…all this in an elevated, manmade housing complex. The bog garden reminds me of my trips to the creek and is always a welcome break from the office, helping me to clear my head and be creative.

In addition to the bog garden, there are numerous plant beds, which are scattered around the complex. They keep you interested and make you explore the complex. If you do, you will discover the many other treasures of the Barbican: the botanical garden, the wildlife garden, the hanging gardens, the pools and fountains…and the Barbican, which was one of the ancient gates to the wall around the City of London.

Every Sunday and on Bank Holidays, the botanical garden is open to the public. It is mostly a tropical garden. There is an arid garden, a number of fish pools and an aviary. As you would expect in the Barbican complex, the entrance is hidden. Enjoy the search.

You will never find the wildlife garden unless you are “in the know.” It is down a ramp and on a side street. Once you know where it is, you can return to the complex and view it from above. In truth, it is not much but in how many cities can you find a bit wildlife in the heart?

The hanging gardens are people’s balconies, many of which are incredibly established. On some balconies, vines hang down for thirty feet or more over the pools and fountains.

The pools and fountains surround a churchyard. There are several places to get food and drink.

Last is the Barbican itself. Much of the wall still stands and is bordered by the original moat. It is tucked away in the heart of the complex and feels forgotten. The loons found it the perfect place earlier this year for their nest.

If you have an hour to spare between City meeting one day in London, you must make a quick trip to the Barbican. It sure beats Starbucks!

6 Jun, 2007


I agree - the Barbican is a real hidden treasure. Last time I was in London, however, the tropical indoors bit was no longer open to the public. Hope this has now changed.

25 Apr, 2008

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Who has visited this garden

  • Gardening with friends since
    31 Jan, 2007

  • Sid

    Gardening with friends since
    29 Feb, 2008

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