The Barbican Conservatory is a tropical and sub-tropical botanical glass-roofed garden located on the third floor of the Barbican. It’s an ideal place to visit during the winter months (and all-year round) but on 16th March we hit the jackpot and were thrilled to see Clivia plants in full flower – perfect timing, as it is this month’s Plant of the Month!
This is the second largest conservatory in London (Kew gardens’ Temperate House being the largest). Opened in 1984, the walkways and terraces have been designed to encourage visitors to wander the pathways and along the walkways in order to explore and experience an urban jungle and to observe the characteristic form of every plant.
Amongst the tropical planting, various exotic palms stand out and the handsome foliage of Monstera deliciosa (swiss cheese house-plant as we know it) is there to be admired. The majestically tall weeping fig tree emphasises the height of the conservatory and frames everything around it. Wide, arching stems of the handsome tree fern and the striking tree, Araucaria heterophylla (which we rested under), plus unusual climbers and shrubs including yuccas and cordylines, are amongst the 1500 plant species on show for the public to appreciate.
The plants are growing, amazingly, in beds with a depth of 1.3m of soil (probably more in the raised beds) and arranged in planting groups that are designed to enhance each and every species. When we visited, the sun shone through the glass, warming the pelargoniums on the shelves. There is a separate cacti wing, housing 300 hundred succulents and orchids but this was closed at the time, which entices us to visit once again when it reopens when the weather is slightly warmer.
Tickets are free but obtained online from Thursdays at 10am when these are released and can be purchased a week in advance. We travelled to Moorgate Station. From there it’s a few minutes walk to the Barbican entrance in Silk Street. Lifts to the third floor are located just inside the entrance on to the generously proportioned terrace, which overlooks the water gardens.
Anna L and Margaret T