The Magic of the Coutts Roof Garden
A tasty paradise for all who visit, our Skyline Garden is a small oasis that packs a big punch.
3 min read
Stand outside our HQ on the Strand, and you’ll be in one of the most vibrant and diverse areas of London. With theatres, galleries and restaurants attracting tourists from all over the world, there are few other places with so much hustle and bustle.
It might therefore come as a surprise to know that nestled in the middle of all the action, is a magical garden like few others. But you have to look up to see it.
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Packed in tightly across 400 metres of outdoor corridors, our Skyline Garden is divided into four separate plots which each produce some of London’s freshest and finest produce.
From wasabi to guava, and Sichuan peppers to ice lettuce, this year’s harvest continues to be the most diverse yet. In the 8 years that the garden has been open, our roof has become home to roughly 18,000 plants, herbs, fruits and vegetables for our chefs to pick at their leisure.
And it’s the residence-of-choice for 80,000 bees - more on them later!
Sustainability: top of the building and top of the menu
It’s all the brainchild of our green-fingered Executive Chef, Peter Fiori. Having worked in Michelin-starred restaurants throughout Europe before joining Coutts, he always maintained his passion for gardening because he understood the importance of using fresh ingredients.
Clearly the Skyline Garden is in rude health but there’s much more to it than just supporting fine dining. It also plays an important role in our efforts to be a more sustainable business, and there are wider, environmental benefits.
As Peter explains, it’s a topic that he feels passionately about: “If we could get 200 or 300 of these roofs in Central London, it would have a massive positive impact on pollution. We’ve proved we can do it. I want to put the word out there, and help other people do the same thing.”
From plant, to Peter, to plate, in 2 hours
Thanks to his incredible efforts to get our roof garden up and running in 2012, his team can now harvest their ingredients and serve them to our clients within 2 hours.
In Peter’s view, this is great news for the taste buds of anyone visiting our private dining rooms: “The quicker we can harvest and then serve the food, the better. It allows us to keep the food’s nutrients and colours, and we get more vibrant dishes as a result.”
Today there’s a fulltime gardening team employed to support him but that wasn’t always the case. And when he reflects on the garden’s inception, he’s quick to mention his late friend, Richard Vine. Such was the support that Richard gave him, that he’s been honoured with his own plaque. Visitors to the garden may catch a glimpse of it as it marks the path affectionately known as ‘Vine Lane’.
Many bees make light work
Away from the kitchen, there’s another support team hard at work in the garden – the Coutts honeybees!
We have three colonies of bees on our roof, and by helping to pollinate the fruit and vegetables, they play an invaluable role, which means we treat them like VIPs when they’re busy buzzing around.
The Coutts’ beekeeper visits them weekly during the spring and summer months to make hive inspections. And when he’s not doing that, he’s teaching Coutts staff in special ‘meet the bee’ sessions.
Would you bee-lieve it?
We’re pleased to say that it’s a case of so far, so good – our ‘Three Crowns Honey’ is in richer supply than ever. This summer took us all by pleasant surprise, yielding an incredible 40kg of delicious honey. It’s a staggering amount when you compare it to the 14kg we saw in 2018, and the 12kg from 2017.
The bees hold a special place in colleagues’ hearts here at Coutts and long may that continue.
Cheers to a vibrant, abundant future
As the Skyline Garden goes from strength to strength, we’ll leave you with this Chinese proverb which is discretely written on a small plaque in one of Peter’s plant pots: ‘Life begins the day you start a garden’.
The proof is in the honey for our roof-top garden, which is a sustainable goldmine of delicious produce. It’s also the inspiration behind these two incredible Coutts recipes.