Urban gardens of the world: how to bring nature into urban spaces

With more and more people flocking to urban areas to live, work and play, there has been a rise in the number of urban gardens popping up in large towns and cities all over the world, from London, UK, to Osaka in Japan (and everywhere in between).


So, what exactly defines an ‘urban garden’? Put simply, it’s any space where plants and vegetables are grown in urban areas. Some great examples of this include the world’s most famous and beautiful city parks; think London’s Hyde Park, Paris’ Luxembourg Garden, and New York’s Central Park.


However, urban gardening isn’t just limited to city parks, and for many people, this means making the most of a limited amount of space for plants to thrive in urban areas. Because of this, rooftop gardens are becoming increasingly common, and for good reason; although they function similarly to a regular garden, they don’t require any additional space due to them being situated on-top of urban structures, such as office and apartment buildings.


And it’s not just rooftop gardens that are growing in popularity; balcony gardens, vertical growing, and indoor plants are all great examples of urban gardening. In fact, the latter can be achieved by hanging plants from the ceiling, incorporating planting into your furniture, and installing beautiful living walls.


Outdoors, you can make your planting vertical by utilising hanging baskets and climbing plants, which can be encouraged to drape themselves around trellises, balcony railings, and the like.


Feeling inspired to incorporate urban gardening into your workplace or home? Check out some of our favourite famous urban gardens from around the world below…


Rockefeller Centre Rooftop Gardens, New York, USA


A somewhat forgotten treasure that’s now only viewable by tenants of the surrounding buildings, the Rockefellar Centre’s Rooftop Gardens were once open to the public, and they were created as part of Raymond Hood’s 1930 scheme to put gardens on the roof of all buildings and connect them via a series of bridges. However, due to financial cuts, only four rooftop gardens were created in the city in total.


Originally consisting of a bird sanctuary and four gardens (including the Gardens of the Nations, which was named after its diverse planting from all around the world), today, only the Rock Garden remains. Nonetheless, its privet hedges, rectangular lawn, and shallow pool are still a spectacular site to behold, and the garden can still be occasionally booked for special events, such as weddings.


Musée du Quai Branly, Paris, France


Located near the Eiffel Tower, the Musée du Quai Branly (or Quai Branly Museum) is the fourth largest museum in Paris, and it exhibits 3,500 objects of indigenous art and culture from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. However, the museum isn’t just revered for its impressive art exhibitions; the entire northwest of the building’s exterior also houses a beautiful living wall.


An impressive 12 metres tall, the Musee du Quai Branly Greenwall was created by the French botanist, Dr. Patric Blanc in 2005, and it remains one of his most famous vertical gardens. To reflect the diversity of the museum’s exhibitions, it contains 15,000 plants from 150 species from around the world. These include eye-catching Berberis darwinii from Chile, and Phygelius capensis from South Africa.


Namba Parks Shopping Complex, Osaka, Japan

Constructed in the footprint of the old Osaka baseball stadium and originally conceived as a large park, Namba Parks is a popular office and retail compound that has a spectacular rooftop garden that spans 8 levels of this unique building’s terraces. Designed by The Jerde Partnership and opened to the public in 2003, Namba Parks’ rich greenery provides a stark contrast to the urban backdrop it’s set in.


Namba Parks’ many layered garden is home to a number of impressive features, including rocks, trees, flowers, ponds, and even waterfalls! This gives visitors a relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of the complex’s many shops and restaurants; close your eyes and it’s easy to forget that you’re standing in heart of the city of Osaka!


So, there you have it; 3 spectacular examples of urban gardening at their best to take some inspiration from! Just remember; although you may not have the same budget or space as Namba Parks in Osaka, there’s still plenty you can do to start creating your own green world in our concrete jungle.