Address: Inner Circle, Regent’s Park, NW1 4NU (0300-061 2300, royalparks.org.uk/parks/the-regents-park).
Opening hours: Daily, 5am to sunset. Garden Café, 9am to 8pm (summer), 9am to 6pm (winter).
Transport: Baker St or Regent's Park tube.
Attractions & amenities: Café, open-air theatre.
Queen Mary’s Gardens – tucked away in the Inner Circle of Regent’s Park – contain London’s largest and best formal rose garden. It’s a honey-pot for garden lovers (and bees) in spring and summer, when tens of thousands of plants are in bloom and the scent is intoxicating.
The gardens – named after the wife of George V – were laid out in 1932 on a site originally used as a plant nursery and later leased to the Royal Botanic Society. There are still some of the original pear trees which supplied fruit to the London market in the early 19th century.
Queen Mary’s Gardens’ famous rose garden contains over 400 different varieties of roses in separate and mixed beds, and a total of some 30,000 rose plants. In addition, there are around 30,000 other plants, including the national collection of delphiniums and 9,000 begonias, all set out in landscaped beds surrounded by a ring of pillars covered in climbers and ramblers. The planting was renewed by landscape architects, Colvin and Moggridge, in the ’90s, and is arranged in a design which complements the circular site and adds a ‘sense of mystery’.
It’s a lovely garden to wander around before attending a performance at the open-air theatre, also within the Inner Circle (see Regent’s Park on page ?? for more information). For refreshments, try the Garden Café, which serves teas, coffees, lunches and summer suppers in a modern version of the original ’60s park café. It’s the perfect spot to round off the perfect day.
The Inner Circle contains the beautiful Triton Fountain – at the northern end of the central walk – designed by William McMillan RA (1887-1977) and donated in 1950 in memory of the artist Sigismund Goetze (1866-1939) by his wife Constance.