London in Bloom: My Top 4 Places to Find Magnolia

The warm weather this year has shocked all of London, including the delicate and pretty magnolia blossom – they are being coaxed out a bit early this year! I thought I would share a few of my favorite place to find these majestic flowering trees. Early to mid-March is typically peak magnolia in London, but it really does vary tree by tree. I hope this guide inspires you to go and explore the prettiest time of the year in London.

South Kensington. Walking between the South Kensington and Gloucester Road tube stops will bring you face to face with some of London’s most statuesque magnolia trees. With the gorgeous white stucco London mansions as a backdrop, the magnolia blossom colours just pop.

Notting Hill. There are several of these beauties around Notting Hill. Exit the Portobello Road tube stop, walk towards Portobello road and don’t be afraid to explore the side streets that are dotted with colorful houses and doors, and make your way to Holland Park, for some stunning magnolia.

Chelsea. Chelsea is actually covered in magnolia! It’s hard to walk around the village without spotting one. My favorite place to photograph is the area around St. Leonards Terrace – it is magnolia heaven.

Cathedrals and courtyards are a good place to find magnolia. St Mary le Strand is framed by magnolia trees, the churchyard in St Olave Hart Street, and courtyards south of Chancery Street (and getting lost in the back streets and courtyards in this area is like going back in time!).

Outside of London, there are a handful of National Trust gardens that would be a gorgeous day out! Maybe when I can actually drive again (waiting to pass that driving test soon), I’ll venture out to explore. Find the gardens here.

Happy blossom hunting!

My Guide to Surviving January in London (or anywhere)

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It’s cold and dark outside.

I’ve just recovered from the flu.

I’m endlessly searching warm places to holiday.

It must be January! Do you feel it?

I’ve never been particularly good at January, but especially since moving to London where it’s dark and the weather is often grey/rainy, I’m not the easiest person to be around this month. I tend to turn inwards, stay inside, and generally dream of being somewhere else.

We moved here from Washington DC in September 5 years ago, and that January was the hardest on record. I was lonely, getting used to being a stay at home mom for the first time, and to top things off I had two miscarriages in a row right before Christmas. It was a rough entry, and I just don’t regard January as a good month since that year.

BUT. I am trying to turn that around this year. There are a few things I’ve found that help me get out of my January funk, so I wanted to share.

  1. Go for a morning walk. As tempting as it is to crawl back into bed after the school run, instead I make plans for a walk through one of my favorite neighborhoods. I try to do one walk a week in winter (Hampstead is up next) because though it can be cold, I feel alive and that winter light is stunning.
  2. Schedule a breakfast or lunch with friends. Food is always going to get me out of the door. Somewhere light and airy is always good, with a good coziness factor, too, because hey it’s January.
  3.  Make travel plans for the year. This year we have our sights set on visiting the US with the kids, which will cut into a big portion of our travel budget, but it’s been too long since seeing family and reconnecting with our roots (aka visiting Target and going to an American movie theatre for buttered popcorn). I’m also looking at Morocco and Egypt, as my 7 year old has been asking to see the pyramids and camels for the past 2 years. We’re also planning on doing a bit of UK travel, too, as I’m planning on finally being able to drive again once I pass my driving test.
  4. Hang up new art on the walls. There’s something about a house refresh that gives me all the good energy. I love to find digital prints on etsy and print off through a local printer for an inexpensive change to my gallery wall.
  5. Buy new plants. We’re lucky in the UK to have a few good plant delivery services, and Patch Plants is one of them. I’ve just ordered a chinese money plant which are so peppy and happy, just the kind of plant I need for our coffee table.

This list isn’t exhaustive, just a few things I’ve done recently that have helped me shake off my January doldrums. I’d love to hear what you do to make the most of these winter months!