Words by Jessica Peace
A few of our G&T mates keep making noise about this place, Vevolution hang out there and Cléo Ferin Mercury sits for hours with her drawing pad there - so we thought it was time we got acquainted with the conservatory at the Barbican.
Designed by same architects we have to thank for the whole ‘brutalist’ Barbican thang, Chamberlin, Powell and Bon, the conservatory was planted up in the 80’s. It is home to 1,800 species of plants and trees, some who are fighting for survival in their homelands. They’ve got tropical, sub-tropical and temperate plants, from deserts to bushland and rainforests. (Why has it taken us so long to get here???)
LABELS AND NEW LOVES
Don’t know your coffee plant from your manuka tree? Don’t fear, they’re all sitting here and labelled, cheers very much; there’s also pineapple, black pepper, date, papaya and banana plants. You’ll also find some G&T staples hanging out here but they are bigger than we can manage in our front rooms - come see what your Swiss Cheese plant would do if you let it.
But picking one plant to make it into G&T plant porn territory it’s got to be the Aechmea fasciata - it’s just too sexy for it’s shirt (there’s also some pretty smoking bougainvillea and hibiscus varieties here).
As much as we are lapping up the flowers, foliage and creeping tendrils on the ground floor, we’ll always have a soft spot (or spike) for our cacti. Don’t miss out the Arid House on the upper floor - it’ll blow your mind. We’ve fallen for Cereus peruvianus ‘Monstrosus’, this leggy Brazilian is as tall, green and gorgeous as you like.
BIG FISH LITTLE, LITTLE FISH, TERRAPIN TIME.
Like a big fish in small pond? They’ve got Koi, Ghost, and Grass Carp from Japan and America in one pond and Roach, Rudd, and Tench in another - some of these fellas are built like houses. Climb up the stairs to the Arid House and hang over the banister to get yourself acquainted with the Red-eared and Yellow-bellied sliders, the Barbican’s resident terrapins.
Free as - but if you fancy a walk with someone with a bit of knowledge a tour of the conservatory with its gardeners (LIVIN THE DREAM) Neil Anderson and Marta Lowcewicz costs just over a tenner. And if you’re feeling a bit posh, you can have afternoon tea right bang in the middle of the conservatory.
GET ME THERE?
Jump off the tube or bus at ‘Barbican’.
LET ME IN…
Don’t just turn up! It’s only open on certain Sundays so have a gander at the website.