Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Our neighborhood, in London…

Our travels break down into two distinct categories. There are the ones where we’re constantly on the go, spending no more than one or two nights in the same city. And then there are ones like our trip to London, where the same hotel is home base for a week or more. When that’s the case it’s extra important I find a comfortable hotel in a good location; after all it will have a huge effect on how we enjoy our time there. I am happy to report I did well!

We stayed at the Doubletree by Hilton near the Tower of London, just a couple of blocks from the River Thames. When we arrived our room wasn’t quite ready so we left our bags and went for a walk around the neighborhood. Just at the end of our block was St Olave Church, the entrance to the courtyard is shown above (and you thought that was our hotel right?), I’m not sure which feature makes more of a statement the skulls or those wicked spikes? I was surprised to find gravestones in the courtyard just inside the entrance.

It was a well tended small garden.

Just a few blocks away we stumbled upon the Monument to the Great Fire of London in 1666. Even before we saw the monument we saw the line get in, it would have been a nice view to start our visit, but the line stretched on for blocks. If we had gone to the top of the 202 ft tower we would have climbed 311 steps!  Can you see the people?

Our next discovery was St Dunstan-in-the-East, a garden on the site of a church first built in Saxon times and then rebuilt in 1697 (having been damaged in the Great Fire). Only the tower of the church survives as there was severe damage to the church in the Blitz. It was opened as a public space in 1967.

Looks like this garden has taken home several 1st place prizes in the London Garden Squares Competitions. Don’t you just have to love a city that has enough “garden squares” to have a competition?

Haven’t seen much green moss at home lately (since it’s been so dry)…

I was very surprised at the amount of Mahonia (here behind the Yucca) I saw growing all over London. I didn’t expect it.

Nor did I expect to find an insect hotel!

Now we are walking along the River Thames and I’m making my first discovery of their monster size Phormiums. How jealous am I?

There were also numerous Euphorbia.

London Bridge…nope, turns out this is actually the Tower Bridge, what do I know!?

Look at that little Cordyline growing in a tiny crack in the cement!

But even more impressive are the not-so-little Yucca Cordylines growing in the Trinity Square Gardens just across the street.

This distinguished looking fellow is part of the World War II Memorial (as is the building above).

More massive Phormium action…

The plant in the center of this mixed planting caught my eye.

Here’s a close-up, anyone know what it is? In this picture it looks very fern-like but in reality it had more of a Grevillea leaf.

There was a crowd gathered around the London Wall, just out of sight on the grassy area.

Okay time to head back to the hotel and what do I discover looking up through the glass atrium in the lobby? A green wall! (actually there were several around the building)…

Later we went up to the roof lounge, to get a better view…

There were also several sections with a small green-roof like planting.

And of course we had to take in the rest of the view from the top of the hotel…

Heading back to the elevators we discovered these guys doing a little vertical garden maintenance.

Did you notice the track their little “car” was on? It runs all the way around the building (the gold arc on the plants is actually a reflection of a floor lamp base next to me as I took the picture out the window)…

And back in our room. I just loved the floor to ceiling window and the bit of old architecture it framed…

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