A few weeks ago, after visiting wonderful bookshop Daunt Books on Marylebone High Street I decided that instead of retracing my steps to Bond Street to catch the Tube home I'd walk in the other direction, taking a detour to Regent's Park en route to Great Portland Street.
I'd only ever been to Regent's Park once before, walking up the Broad Walk quite briskly on my way to the Jewish Museum a couple of springs ago. I'd been meaning to go back ever since, so finding myself nearby on a lovely sunny afternoon I thought it was the perfect time to do some more exploring!
This time round I visited Queen Mary's Gardens in the Inner Circle of the park. The main gates are rather fancy, marking both the opening of the gardens in the 1930s and the Silver Jubilee of King George V.
Queen Mary's Gardens are famous for their roses - apparently there are approximately 12,000 roses planted within the gardens, making it London's largest collection of roses. The roses are (apparently) at their best in the first weeks of June but when I visited in early July the gardens still looked and smelled amazing. So many roses! And such waves of scent!
There was also a spectacular border filled with delphiniums...
... and lots of interesting, densely-planted pathways to explore.
As well as the formal planting, there's also a small lake within Queen Mary's Gardens. The lake and its surrounding planting are just buzzing with wildlife - I saw so many different birds on my short visit.
At one end of the lake you'll also find a waterfall and a Japanese garden, which is actually on a little island in the lake (you know how I feel about tiny islands). The garden is looking a little bare at the moment as it's being replanted, but it's still full of character. You cross over the wisteria-covered ornamental bridge to reach the island, then follow the path round to explore.
A Japanese garden on a tiny island in an ornamental lake in a rose garden in a royal park? What a treat!
I'm so glad I decided to take a detour through the park instead of heading straight home.
P.S. If you're a fan of Japanese gardens, there's also a lovely one in Holland Park - complete with peacocks.