A Japanese Oasis in the heart of London

Feb 3, 2017 - POSTED BY Anna Halloran - Gardeners Choice

The Kyoto Garden is a stunningly beautiful sanctuary in the heart of London’s Holland Park. What with the sound of running water, the stately peacocks and other birds, and the giant Koi Carp swimming in the pond, the Kyoto Garden really does achieve a Zen like harmony in the centre of our bustling city. The Kyoto Garden is in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea and was opened in 1991. The 54 acres of Holland Park used to be the grounds of Cope Castle, a Jacobean mansion built for Sir William Cope in 1605. Later Cope Castle was inherited by Lady Rich, the Earl of Holland’s wife, and so it was renamed Holland House. In World War II most of this beautiful mansion was destroyed, though what remains of it is still in use in today’s Holland Park.

The Kyoto Garden in Holland Park was donated by the Chamber of Commerce of Kyoto to celebrate the Japan Festival which was held in London in 1992. It was designed by a Japanese designer, in the style of a Japanese stroll garden. A stroll garden usually has a winding path that leads you, the viewer, around the garden, so that you can enjoy the garden from different angles. In this case we are led around the central pond with its cascading waterfall, by means of a meandering path and a beautiful bridge, so that we can view the garden with its planting, trees, rocks and temples, all reflected from different angles in the water feature, and all with a slightly different lighting effect. 

Stroll gardens often have artfully placed rocks in the soil, or in the water, mini temples and pebble paths, and other meditative features such as the small water feature seen in Photo 5. The Kyoto Garden in Kensington and Chelsea includes all these features, amid beautifully naturalistic planting amongst the mature trees and strategically placed Acers with their fiery red leaves. Then there is the added pleasure of spotting the occasional, bright orange, Koi Carp swimming about in the pond, and every time I have been, there have always been lots of birds dotted around the garden, enjoying the peaceful air. A veritable Japanese Oasis in the heart of London for all to enjoy, including the pigeons - as can be seen in the last photo!