Flower Garden


The Flower Garden, Greenwich Park, 2021


The Flower Garden can be found in the south-east corner of Greenwich Park and was created from an area which was originally known as the Great Wilderness. It currently consists of fine examples of Victorian and Edwardian cedar lawns, a small lake, shrubberies, and a rockery. Inset into the lawns are circular beds used for spring and summer flowers and bulbs planted in rotation.

The Great Wilderness was initially laid out during Charles II’s redesign of the park in the 1660s. It was formed of a series of rectangular bosquets (ornamental groves or thickets) separated by grass rides or walks. The Great Wilderness survived until around 1840. 

In the nineteenth century, however, a fashion for pleasure gardens prevailed, inspired by the opening of England’s first public park in 1839, the Derby Arboretum. These pleasure gardens were regarded as a ‘breathing zone’ from the bustling city streets and for education and recreation.

The Flower Garden in Greenwich Park was first laid out with ornamental tree planting on the flat lawns in 1854, with avenues and paths levelled and gravelled. In 1897, the Flower Garden was further remodelled with new shrubberies and an enlarged lake with aquatic planting. 

In 1902, Greenwich Park Superintendent, A D. Webster, described the Flower Garden as the richest area for trees and shrubs in Greenwich Park, where, in the enclosed ground by the pond, ‘not less than 1,300 kinds are to be seen’. Further tree planting, including cedar trees, took place in 1907.

By 1925 the circular beds had been added. The Gardener’s Chronicle reported that the Flower Garden was Greenwich Park’s greatest attraction, with Superintendent R. Findlay providing much of the park’s planting from its own recently enlarged nursery. A rockery was added in 1930.

The redevelopment of the Flower Garden throughout the twentieth century ensured that the gardens remained extremely popular with locals and visitors to the park, who explored the enclosed area and enjoyed the complex configuration and diversity of planting.

In the twenty-first century, the Flower Garden remains the horticultural highlight of the park, with further plans to improve the gardens as part of the Greenwich Park Revealed project.