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London Open Garden Squares Weekend 2017 Guide

11 June 2017 | Angela Lord

It’s always good to see some greenery growing amid the city’s urban sprawl, and when June bursts into bloom, Open Garden Squares Weekend gives us a glimpse of some of London’s hidden gems.

Now in its 20th year, the annual Open Garden Squares Weekend, organised by the London Parks and Gardens Trust, opens up 237 gardens and green spaces across 27 London boroughs over the weekend of June 17/18. From the breath-taking heights of a roof terrace to the more down-to-earth delights of vegetable allotments and planted skips, visitors get the chance to go off the beaten track and discover tranquil spots which aren’t normally open to the public.

If you fancy a roof with a view, head to Crossrail Place at the top of Canary Wharf Crossrail station. Filled with ferns, grasses and flowering shrubs, the landscaping is inspired by Canary Wharf’s rich maritime heritage. Baring Asset Management has two roof terraces designed by the landscape architect Charles Funke – one inspired by Asia, and the other by Europe. Hachette UK Ltd, a roof-top oasis on the theme of an English country garden, has sweeping views along the River Thames from Tower Bridge to the London Eye.

If you’re into organic produce and looking for tips on how to grow your own, the Skip Garden in Kings Cross could provide inspiration. Apple trees, pumpkins and beans all grow in skips, while tomatoes, ginger and chillies grow under tunnels made of polythene. Winterton House Organic Garden in the East End has a greenhouse, allotments, rare breed chickens, and a wildlife pond.


Image courtesy of Open Garden Squares Weekend

If chocolate is more to your taste then Rococo Chocolates in Belgravia has a café and courtyard, home to the tiny but charming MaRococo garden with room for up to 12 people at a time. Decorated in Moroccan style with a tile mosaic, it’s filled with fragrant plants like rose, lavender, mint and lime, which make up the flavourings used in their organic chocolate bars.

The Royal College of Physicians’ Medicinal Garden is offering guided tours which explain how plants have been used for healing purposes over the past five thousand years. Eight small gardens along the Regency terrace of St Andrews Place contain plants that have been used to treat a variety of ailments, from scurvy to swine ‘flu. Medicinal herbs also feature in the garden of the British Medical Association on the corner of Tavistock Square; the same site as Charles Dickens’ house. The design by architect Sir Edwin Lutyens centres around an oval pool.

Poetry lovers might appreciate a visit to Keats House near Hampstead Heath, former home of the Romantic poet John Keats, who is said to have written his popular 'Ode to a Nightingale' under a plum tree in the garden. Visitors are invited to bring their own picnic to eat in the grounds.


Image courtesy of Open Garden Squares Weekend

The Master’s Garden, hidden away on the north side of the Temple complex, near Fleet Street, is built on an elevated plateau, above 17th-century catacombs that are now sealed and not open to the public. The Deanery meanwhile, part of the private residence of the Dean of Southwark Cathedral next to the Globe Theatre, is a secluded spot full of shrubs, trees and herbaceous borders, making it a haven for wildlife.

Trumpeters’ House, near Richmond Green, takes its name from two statues of trumpeting figures on a gate of the old Richmond Palace. The grounds have an 18th-century castellated summer house, a knot garden and an aviary for doves.

Finally, If you’re looking for a little oasis of calm, the World Peace Garden in Camden is a secluded spot, transformed from wasteland into a woodland glade by volunteers.


Image courtesy of Open Garden Squares Weekend

One ticket gains entry to all gardens (apart from those with special conditions for entry) for both Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 June. Opening times vary, with some gardens open all weekend and others for one day only. If you’re only planning to visit one garden, it’s worth checking the property’s own website for full details and individual admission prices.

There’s also a programme of Guided Walks and Special Tours, which is available only to Open Garden Squares Weekend ticket-holders.

Open Garden Squares Weekend takes place from June 17-18 all across London. Tickets are £13 adv. or £15.
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