Not afraid of heights? Fancy a spectacular 360 degree bird’s-eye view of London free of charge? Then the Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street is for you. This well-talked about sight is remarkably without expense, unlike the garden’s next-door neighbour, The Shard. The Sky Garden evokes a more family-friendly atmosphere, clearly reflected in their choice of décor – brightly coloured plant pots and painted bicycles, as well as soft and spongy tree log stools.
Open every day, there is always an opportunity to visit, the only catch being the individual time slots which need to be booked in advance. Nonetheless, one security guard working there estimated that approximately five thousand people visit the gardens every day! On approach, there is a continuous long, snaking queue leading up to the security checks – somewhat reminiscent of going through high-tech airport security. Then the lift whizzes everyone straight up from the ground to the 35th floor, like London’s very own Great Glass Elevator.
Upstairs, the tiered garden provides an aesthetically pleasing layered look and having the eating venues situated on varying levels compliments the landscape architecture of the garden, designed by Gillespies. The overall appearance is very natural, with the chosen plants – green foliage and palm trees – all thriving under glass. For the keen gardener, the lack of vibrant colours is not an issue, because there are plenty of different plant species which can be identified by placards and, on closer inspection, are just as fascinating as the overall look. The garden is well-equipped with timed sprinklers that run in and out of the tropical plants and maintain the garden’s humidity and freshness. The chosen plants are resilient and enduring, making the gardeners’ jobs slightly easier.
Finally, the open terrace allows guests to experience the heights whilst exposing them to the elements. Without any glass between them and the city, Sky Garden visitors are given the chance to truly look out onto London from above. Many people are eager to ask the security guards to take photographs of them with the wind in their hair and a unique view behind them. So, if you have not already, then why not reach for the sky and give this tropical retreat in the heart of the city a visit.