Holland Park’s Kyoto garden in the snow

Holland Park Kyoto Japanese Garden 4

The snow has gone now, but in London last Monday we visited Holland Park in Kensington for the first time, drawn by word of the Kyoto Japanese garden there. The Park is well-hidden; unlike Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens just up the road, it’s tucked away behind the elegant Kensington street facades, and reached by a narrow lane.

The park is spread across 54 acres of what used to be the grounds of Cope Castle, a large Jacobean mansion hidden in the woods. It was built by Sir Walter Cope in the early 17th century, who became Chancellor of the Exchequer under King James 1. It was later renamed Holland House after being inherited by the Earl of Holland’s wife.

Cope Castle 1

Holland House was badly damaged during World War II, but one wing was saved and is used as a youth hostel. A section of the front terrace remains – the lawns in front covered in snow last week.

Holland Park is, surprisingly in such a suburban setting, pretty extensive and it took us a little while to find the Kyoto garden which is in a secluded spot among trees behind the stables, rose garden and playground.

Holland Park Kyoto Japanese Garden 2

Holland Park Kyoto garden was designed and built by an eminent Japanese garden designer and his team to celebrate the Japan Festival in London in 1992. It was a co-operative project between the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the Kyoto Chamber of Commerce in Japan.

The garden is a tranquil place and looked particularly beautiful with the trees and rocks covered in snow.  Boulders and pebbles edge the shore of the pool in which gleaming koi carp swam languidly.  There are Japanese maples, several stone lanterns, and a gently-falling waterfall.  On a crisp, bright morning of blue sky and sun, the glittering snow and calm reflections in the still water of the koi pond offered a few moments for peaceful contemplation before returning to the hurly-burly of the London streets.

The gardens look quite different in summer sunshine, in this photo from the Londonist website.  Autumn must also be a good time to visit, when the leaves of the Japanese acers are turning red and orange.

But this was the scene in the snow last week:

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5 thoughts on “Holland Park’s Kyoto garden in the snow

  1. I will hunt out this hidden garden when I am next in London along with the Roof Garden restaurant off Kensington High st which has never been open to public when I was there. Did you see the wonderful Tony Cragg sculptures in Exhibition rd and in the museums? You have inspired me to do my next blog on Tony tomorrow.
    Thanks from Jean

  2. It’s good to hear that you enjoyed Holland Park and the japanese garden. Holland House was central to the activities of the Pre-Raphaelites and the painter G F Watts who lived there as a guest for some time.

    For anyone visiting the Park, it is also well worth while visiting Leighton House on the south side. It has superb Islamic styled rooms tiled with Isnik ceramics. There is also an excellent collection of William De Morgan pottery as well as paintings by Leighton and contemporaries. Leighton was, and still is, the only painter ever to have been granted a peerage. Not bad for a lad from Scarborough.

    Thans for an interesting blog Gerry.

  3. It’s very good to see this. I don’t get out enough. This is just up the road but I hardly ever visit. I really ought to. And you should have called in at The Rowley Gallery to say hello. Thanks for another fine post.

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