THE JUNGLE AT 20 FENCHURCH STREET | Sharon Henry
High inside the Sky Garden Walkie Talkie building, London, a soft mist falls, leaving glistening beads clinging to furry New Zealand tree ferns, 37 floors up. Like a light shower of rain, it moistens clusters of ginger flowers and dampens the leaves of 100-year-old palms whose roots once veined the soil at the foot of Mount Etna. This is the Sky Garden on 20 Fenchurch Street, aka the Walkie Talkie or even Walkie Scorchie building, in the City of London, and it’s pretty amazing.
The Best London Panorama You Can See For Miles
My ears popped in the quick elevator ride up and I was awe-struck the minute the doors slid open. We stepped out into a huge atrium, three-storeys high, entirely encased in glass (roof included) which reveals what must be the best view of The Shard. Behind us stood what looked like a slice of a mountain side, green, leafy and lush.
We made a beeline to the open air terrace, there was so much detail to consume of this iconic cityscape I didn’t know where to look first. The Shard, HMS Belfast, More London, Tower Bridge, boats on the Thames, red double-deckers, ant people crossing London Bridge, the golden pinnacle of The Monument, down onto rooftops, Battersea Power Station… Suffice to say, umpteen photos were taken.
One Day In London? Get Free Tickets To The Sky Garden
It took a while before we ventured back inside. The Sky Garden Sky Pod Bar is on the lower level and up above are two restaurants which are flanked by green slopes on either side. To the far left and right are stairways leading to the gardens themselves and top-most floor where you can stand eyeball to eyeball with the ‘Gherkin’ and ‘Cheese Grater’ buildings.
Unfortunately, the gardens had to compete with the spectacular bird’s eye view of London and it took a while before we felt sated enough to turn away from the cityscapes below and follow the path under the tree fern canopy inside.
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But now that I’m here I don’t want to leave. The range of Sky Garden plants reminds me of home; the tree ferns of our cloud forest up on Diana’s Peak and the succulents, creepers, ferns and shrubs – the rest of St Helena Island. Along with the red hot pokers, agapanthus, birds of paradise and cockroach grass.
Standing amongst them is peaceful and calming and for a few moments as the sun shines directly onto my skin, it’s pure bliss. I didn’t think my Sky Garden Walkie Talkie experience would make me feel homesick!
The Sky Garden has its own microclimate and there are three planting zones, the shade tolerant forest at the top, sloping to the sunniest area at the bottom. The plants are ‘drought resistant’ and were carefully selected to give colour and flowers throughout the year. The misting units come on automatically to regulate the humidity to 75%. I love the smell they generate; earthy, just like any garden after a shower of rain.
Visit The Sky Garden Walkie Talkie Building For FREE!
A visit to the Sky Garden is highly recommended. Admission is FREE although limited in availability and in one-hour time slots. We highly recommend a visit and unsurprisingly for this a brilliant London tourist attraction the Sky Garden tickets are snapped up fast. Thankfully we got lucky when we booked our tickets online just last night. It’s a simple and instantaneous process and you can either print a hard copy of your ticket or bring it on your phone. The ticket holder will also need to bring ID.
There are queues and a security check but it’s reasonably fast moving, it took us just over half an hour to get in. Come at least half an hour early.
The Sky Garden is great for people with a few hours to spare on a layover, and there were a few with suitcases.
Where To Find The Sky Garden Entrance
Oh, and don’t do what we did and go into what is the actual front door of 20 Fenchurch Street. This is the reception area for the corporate side of the building – not for tourists. The Sky Garden entrance is around on the opposite side, via Philpot Lane. The long queue should’ve been a clue – duh!
The Sky Garden is a relatively new attraction, only opened to the public in 2015. The property developers were granted permission on condition that free admission was given to the public.
The Sky Garden Nearest Tube Station
And even though we’ve been allotted an hour, there are no obvious signs of anyone monitoring this. No one has tapped us on the shoulder to say, ‘time’s up,’ guess it’s self-regulating; some people who queued with us left a while ago.
We should go too, and not overstay our welcome up in the Sky Garden. Oh, but what a place, what views, we love it. Let’s just take one last photo…
The nearest London Underground Station to get to the Sky Garden on 20 Fenchurch Street is Monument on the Circle and District lines.
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