Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Barbican Conservatory

For the second part of my London adventure with Laura, we headed to the incredible Barbican Conservatory, which is inside the Barbican Estate. I had seen the Conservatory in one of Natasha's videos, and was absolutely entranced, so I knew I had to visit this strange and wonderful place. Luckily Laura also had it on her list of places to visit, so we were both quite excited about getting there. From the outside the Barbican Conservatory looked fairly unassuming, but walking in felt like entering a different world.  

Everywhere I looked there were huge palm trees and foliage, some of it spilling over boxy concrete balconies. The strange juxtaposition of tropical plants, growing in a very obviously indoor, man made space, the Brutalist architecture, exposed roof supports, and slightly eerie indoor street lights made it feel like I was in a futuristic, post apocalyptic society. I imagined a world where the earth outside had been destroyed, and the only place to maintain life was in glass metropolises, where people lived among the giant palms. Or perhaps these were the overgrown remnants of an alien city, preserved under glass for posterity.

Either way, this place stirred my imagination. Everywhere there was a new detail to notice, another type of plant, a beautiful pond or fountain. It would be the perfect place for a photo shoot-in fact we stumbled across a group of people having a photo shoot as we were exploring.

One of the window ledges was entirely filled with different types of geranium, which delighted me. Fittingly for this strange space, they were in unusual hues and quite different from the usual domestic red geraniums in the windowsill. I particularly liked the deep burgundy toned bloom, with striking orange stamens.

The foliage was thick with flowers in every colour and shade, from delicate lilac coloured blossoms that looked like dancing fairies,

to the vibrant orange of the aptly named Bird of Paradise plant.

Climbing the stairs to the walkway at the top of the Conservatory I spotted a stack of terrapins, in an elevated pool. Every level of the Conservatory had something new to wonder over.

The views from the walkway were spectacular.

On the upper level was the Garden Room, filled with pastel hued succulents,

arid raised beds of cacti which looked like they had been plucked straight from a South American desert, 

and the huge, vivid blooms of flowering cacti trailing from hanging baskets.

The slightly uncanny but enchanting feeling continued in this room, with the contrasts between the naturalistic cacti planting and abundant, wild foliage against the stark white frame of the glass roof.

Back at ground level, I found the opposite of the arid Garden Room-a beautiful pool of water filled with sparkling fish, which I spent quite a while peacefully watching.

Then it was time to move on, leaving this strange and wonderful place, and re-entering the outside world for the next stage of the adventure...


  1. Oh these photos are just stunning Polly! I especially love the bird of paradise flower you got a shot of and it does feel like you've transported to another world by stepping into this place. One to add to my wishlist of places to visit! - Tasha

    1. Thank you! Yes you should definitely visit, I think you'd love it. It's very close to the Museum of London too, so it's easy to plan a day out around this area :)