Walk in City of London

Saturday 7 May 2022

Our City walk took place on a day of uncertain weather: blazing sunshine one minute, followed by a characteristic English drizzle the next. Unfazed by the elements, our group of MPG enthusiasts was led by Tina Baxter. Our first stop was Wren’s Christ Church Greyfriars whose tower has been turned into a stylish abode. Next stop was Postman’s Park. In the centre stands a stone carved pillar surrounded by symmetrical beds planted with Tulipa ‘Queen of Night’. Most remarkable, to the right of the entrance of the park, stands a monumental Davidia involucrata whose white delicate leaves did indeed resemble white tissues.

Wren’s Christ Church Greyfriars

Postman’s Park

From postmen to the Barber Surgeons’ Herbal Garden – Physic Garden of John Gerard — tucked right under the Museum of London and cupped inside one of the Roman battlements. It was fascinating to discover this little relative of the Chelsea Physic Garden complete with its spindle-like laurel tree in the central roundel which was surrounded by the closest to Mediterranean plants we had seen so far. Standing proud and screening a multi-storey building is Paulownia tomentosa in full flower.

Barber Surgeons’ Herbal Garden

Paulownia tomentosa

Passing along Noble Street lined with its Roman walls is a wildflower garden. On to the Goldsmiths‘ Garden located on the site of the former medieval church of St John Zachary which was destroyed in the Great Fire of London.

Goldsmiths’ Garden

Gradually moving into more contemporary spaces, One London Wall was created by three developers to make extended pedestrian space: instead of anonymous railings, St Alphage Highwalk was densely planted with a variety of ferns, as well as flowering and aromatic plants.

In addition to more formal planting schemes, Tina pointed out a project called Clean Air involving both students and the local community situated within spitting distance of the towering balconies of the Barbican. Here, corrugated pipes were repurposed to host a variety of plants and shrubs acting as a green corridor to the backdrop of severe brick buildings.

From there via Moorgate, we went on to Finsbury Square—a vast green space, formerly known as ‘Fynnesbourie Field’ in need of some inventive planting. Directly overlooking Liverpool Street Station, is a recent development designed by Architecture studio DSDHA known as Exchange Square, where our tour ended. Nodding to contemporary ideas of planting with elements of biodiversity as well as more high-maintenance lawns which are complemented by a system of terrazzo pools designed in Italy. This green venture proves, unequivocally, that cities need more ‘lungs’ and more opportunities to commune with nature.

Exchange Square

Altogether a rich and informative outing made all the more interesting by Tina’s supply of anecdotes.

MPG city walkers with guide Tina Baxter, centre

Text: Cleo Cantone

Images: MG Jones and Denise Lewis