HID­DEN SANC­TU­AR­IES

‘Green Es­capes: The Guide to Se­cret Ur­ban Gar­dens’ (£16.95, Phaidon) is an en­cy­clopae­dia of gar­dens that are open to the public, but not (yet) fa­mous. En­tries stretch from Ky­oto to Tang­iers to Antwerp, but it’s the gates to grassy plots in the Bri­tish isl

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BAR­BICAN ES­TATE’S BEECH GAR­DEN, LON­DON It’s the con­trast of con­crete and ram­pant wild­flow­ers that de­lights vis­i­tors to these gar­dens set among Lon­don’s fa­mous Bru­tal­ist build­ings. Fol­low­ing a 2012 up­date, the book tells us that ‘the mono­chrome ge­om­e­try of the ar­chi­tec­ture is now soft­ened and cheered by colour­ful, nat­u­ral­is­tic plant­ings by Nigel Dun­nett’ (city­oflon­don.gov.uk).

BISHOP’S PALACE, WELLS, SOM­ER­SET The Bishop of Bath and Wells’ home, a palace built in 1206, has seven spec­tac­u­lar gar­dens through which we are all wel­come to wan­der. The book de­scribes the East Gar­dens as ‘a plants­man’s par­adise, fea­tur­ing a ‘‘hot bor­der” with fiery flow­ers and ex­otic fo­liage’. This leads to the Wells Gar­den, where the city’s nat­u­ral springs fill shady pools sur­rounded by damp-lov­ing irises and candelabra prim­u­las ( bish­opspalace.org.uk).

THE HID­DEN GAR­DENS, GLAS­GOW Scot­land’s first ‘sanc­tu­ary gar­den’ was funded by a non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion and pur­pose-built in 2003 as a peace-mak­ing plot of land in the city’s mul­ti­cul­tural Pol­lok­shields neigh­bour­hood. A rill now runs through borders of medic­i­nal herbs, such as flow­er­ing com­frey and cat­mint, and the plant­ing else­where echoes a mix of cul­ture and reli­gions, with bam­boos, ginkgo, hazel and win­ter-flow­er­ing plum trees (the­hid­den­gar­dens.org.uk).

ST DUN­STAN- IN- THE- EAST, LON­DON Built in 1100, the church that orig­i­nally stood here was burned down by the Great Fire of Lon­don, then re­stored, only to be bombed in the Blitz. Its shell is now a public gar­den. We love how the Gothic ar­chi­tec­ture, in­clud­ing Christo­pher Wren’s 17th-cen­tury steeple, is soft­ened by roam­ing vines, trees and curv­ing cob­bled paths (city­oflon­don.gov.uk).

Bishop’s Palace, Wells, Som­er­set

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