For my birthday this year, which was on a Saturday in March, we booked tickets on a special sailing from Gravesend to central London on a Uber boat by Thames Clippers, about which I will post a separate review.
I had wanted to visit the Sky Garden but were unable to get tickets, nor were there any tables available until 10 pm in the bars and restaurants there so we had to think of something else to do in the limited time we had to spend in the area around London Bridge. We crossed over the Thames from our ferry pier near The Belfast in the hope that there would be walk-in tickets for the Sky Garden in the the Fenchurch Building but the queue was horrendous so Plan B was to find the roof garden at 120 Fenchurch Street nearby. We found the entrance set back slightly from the road in an arcade where we saw a few people getting into a lift and beyond them a glass fronted security area with an airport style conveyer belt moving people’s rucksacks and bags through an x-ray machine, with three security men assisting. We went into the room and after a very slick procedure the three of us were soon heading to the 15th floor roof garden in a lift we had all to ourselves.
The views from the rooftop garden were amazing even though there was a lot of building work being carried out on adjacent new high rise buildings. The rooftop garden is surrounded by high glass panels which sheltered us from the worst of the wind but in places made taking photos difficult because of the reflections. Although diminutive in comparison with the neighbouring `Walkie-Talkie` we had good views of it plus the `Gherkin` and the Shard and we were high enough to be able to look down on St Paul’s, Leadenhall Market, Richard Rogers’ Lloyd’s building and numerous church towers so we spent some time trying to identify what was what. It was a sunny but cold and windy day. We walked around a few times taking photos and looking at the plants that were growing up there including various grasses and lots of narcissus in flower; it also looked as though there was a large wisteria and there are plenty of metal frames for climbing plants. There was a long zig-zag of a water feature, a bit like a rill, and the wind was so strong it was making waves on the water. Neatly cut evergreen hedges, a bit like a parterre, provided a strong design feature. We thought the planting could have been more imaginative with a few more unusual but low growing plants, especially bulbs.
We saw a sign wth `Deli` on it and went down a flight of steps to the floor below to check if it was a restaurant, which it was. The menu showed that a 2 course set lunch was £27 and 3 courses were £32. We decided to not even ask if there was a table available, however, I was pleased to find some toilets nearby. Then we went back down in the lift to the ground floor and couldn’t believe the length of the queue of people waiting to go up but as it was lunchtime we guessed most of them were heading for the restaurant. We were very glad we’d found the Garden at No. 120 before the crowds arrived for lunch but we then had the difficult task of finding somewhere to eat as nothing seemed to be open during the day at weekends in the City.
I’m glad I’d read about this attraction before travelling to London; I would go again at a different time of year to see what other plants are grown in the garden.
A very good experience that we didn’t have to book in advance and that cost us nothing.