Natural Areas & Green Space
A Guide to London's Major Public Parks & Gardens
London boasts many natural areas thorughout the city that are open year-round including: Kilally Meadows, Meadowlily Woods, Medway Valley Heritage Forest, Sifton Bog, Warbler Woods, and Westminster Ponds. Natural areas are wetlands, meadows, forests, valley lands and other relatively undisturbed lands that are home to many different plants and wildlife. Some contain rare plants, wildlife or landforms, or have features characteristic of the region before European settlement, or are especially large or diverse in habitat.
Many natural areas are considered environmentally significant on a local, regional, provincial or even national scale. In addition to the natural areas, London also features approximately 22 kilometers of paved bike paths along the Thames River.
In the heart of our urban environment there are preserved natural treasures such as woodlands, meadows and ponds. These environmentally sensitive areas are managed by the City in partnership with local Conservation Authorities.
Elmo W. Curtis Garden and Rayner Gardens
The Elmo W. Curtis Gardens and Rayner Gardens are integrated and often called the Rose Gardens. At its 1970 opening the Elmo Curtis Rose Garden featured 4,000 roses surrounding the reflecting pond. The original formal design has been preserved, but some of the original rose beds are now used to showcase annuals.
Elmo W. Curtis Gardens is named for the City of London Commissioner who was influential in establishing the rose garden. The Rayner Garden opened in 1983 after Louise Rayner bequeathed $200,000 to establish a rose garden in memory of her son.
Open year round, seasonal highlights of these gardens include early spring bulbs; roses in June; perennials from May till October; and annuals from June till September. Located at the corner of Springbank Drive and Wonderland Road, entrance is made either from Springbank Drive or Wonderland Road.
The small tropical oasis of the conservatory is open year round Monday-Friday from 12 to 3 p.m. Admittance is free. Rental facilities include the Great Hall which has become a popular spot for meetings, weddings and other special events. For further rental information - including a floor plan and listing of approved caterers - visit the Civic Garden Complex web page or call 519 661-5575.
Fork of the Thames
The link of past and present takes another recreational turn at the Forks of Thames, the place where our community began. Redevelopment of this area introduced expanded park and pathway areas, water play activity for children and displays that provide a stroll-by history lesson on the city's first settlement.
Located at the very west end of the downtown core, the Forks of the Thames consists of several, interconnected park areas including the Peace Garden, Ivey Park and Harris Park. Here you'll find formal gardens - often used as a setting for wedding photographs - as well as the excitement of events such as the celebration of Canada Day.
The Forks of the Thames is within walking distance of heritage attractions such as the City's oldest remaining residence, Eldon House, and the Middlesex County Building (Old Courthouse) as well as new cultural and commercial landmarks. The latter includes the rebuilt Covent Garden Market and the John Labatt Centre, London's state-of-the art entertainment and sports complex.
City of London Greenhouse and Civic Garden Complex
The City of London has been growing its own, high quality, annual flower displays for nine decades. The original greenhouses were replaced in 1985 and added on to again in 1996. At the same time the Samuel R. Manness Conservatory and Civic Garden Complex, 645 Springbank Drive, was created through a donation from the Ladies Garden Club of London and Federal and Provincial Government grants.
The small tropical oasis of the conservatory is open year round Monday-Friday from 12 to 3 p.m. Admittance is free. Rental facilities include the Great Hall which has become a popular spot for meetings, weddings and other special events. For further rental information - including a floor plan and listing of approved caterers - call 519 661-5575.
Purchased by the City of London in 1874 to utilize its abundant fresh spring water, Springbank Park has become one of Canada's best examples of urban parkland. Its 140-hectares (300 acres) offer everything from natural woodlands to formal garden vistas. Within its heart is the highly popular family attraction, Storybook Gardens, re-opened in 2003 following extensive renovations.
The park is also home to Springbank Gardens located on the site of the former Wonderland Gardens. This new outdoor venue consists of two main areas. There is a cluster of buildings with beautiful landscaped gardens - perfect for recreational use such as weddings, and cal concerts. The second area features scenic trails through natural woodlands with vantage lookout points and charming picnic spots.
Springbank Park is open from dawn to dusk all year round. Its pathways are part of the 30 kilometer system used by strollers, cyclists, runners and roller-bladers. Other features to enjoy include picnic grounds and a playground area, the merry-go-round outside Storybook Gardens and seasonal flower displays.
Considered to be one of the most important designed landscapes of the 19th century, our 6-hectare park (15-acre) is a rare luxury to enjoy in the heart of a city's downtown.
A hub of social and recreational activities since 1874, an estimated one million visitors come to Victoria Park specifically for the festivals and special events staged within its grounds.
Bike & Walk Map:www.londontourism.ca
London's Natural Areas:www.thamesvalleytrail.org
London's Natural Areas:www.thamesriver.on.ca
Friends of the Coves Subwatershed:www.thecoves.ca
McIlwraith Field Naturalists:www.mcilwraith.ca
Does your Dog Need a Place to Run? Off-leash Dog Parks:www.london.ca