High up on the concrete landscape that’s the Southbank Centre can be found a decade-old pocket park that’s home to over 200 wild native plants. The roof garden was created in 2011 by the Eden Project and the Southbank Centre and is a mix of a place to get away from the bustle of the riverside, and also at times, a has a bar serving drinks.
The space was always open to the public, as can be seen by the row of concrete benches that let people river watch from a good vantage point, but a decade ago they decided to cover the concrete floor with a lawn, and a lot of bedding plants to create a wildlife haven.
The pocket park has been broken up into zones, with lots of seating and tables towards the rear surrounded by pot plants, and the lawn and benches to the front for the views across central London. There’s a second, currently closed entrance at the rear, with a long trellis covered tunnel to walk through. The tunnel is open, if not the exit at the end, but it’s still fun to walk through. And do look for the mosaics in the floor.
The roof garden isn’t signposted, so is one of those “hidden in plain view” secrets of the area that those in the know love to show off to people who had no idea its up here.
You can find it on top of the Queen Elizabeth Hall, and the easiest way to find it is via the bright yellow staircase next to the entrance of the Queen Elizabeth Hall and just go up the stairs.
The Roof Garden is open Thu – Sun, from 12 noon, while the cafe/bar is supposedly open Thu & Fri, 4pm – 8pm and Sat & Sun, 12 noon – 8pm, although it was closed on my visit.
The pocket park is now maintained by volunteers from Grounded Ecotherapy which works with adults who have mental health difficulties using gardening as a therapy.