Gardens appear in strange places
Sip floral cocktails and honeyed beer as you tour London’s Open Garden Squares this weekend Events and tickets
LONDON’S exclusive squares, secret gardens and green spaces, many not usually open to the public, fling their gates wide this Saturday and Sunday under the Open Garden Squares Weekend. Founded 20 years ago by Londoner Caroline Aldiss when she wanted to share her own home square, Kensington’s Collingham Gardens, and organised by the London Parks and Gardens Trust, the city’s great garden show now embraces not just our finest squares but more than 230 gardens across 27 London boroughs.
So as well as sipping cava and cocktails in Cleveland Square, savouring the celebrated rose collection at Eccleston Square or lying on the lawns and listening to a poetry reading in Markham Square, you can cherry- pick from nature reserves and bee havens, rooftops and glasshouses, parks, orchards, city farms, allotments, barge gardens and herb gardens, monastic cloisters and secret courtyards.
Newcomers this year include two accaimed roof gardens by Baring Asset Management at Bishopsgate, the northern terrace inspired by Asia, the southern by Europe, and Hachette’s award-winning rooftop with stretches of lawn, English country garden planting and sensational views towards the Tower and London Eye.
Other gardens-in-the-sky to visit this weekend include the dynamic roof garden at the Barbican Centre, designed by climate change expert Professor Nigel Dunnett, and the garden above Canary Wharf’s Crossrail station, which has both striking architecture and landscape inspired by the wharf’s maritime heritage.
Seeking ideas for your own patch? You will find plenty of planting inspiration at the Inner Temple Garden, which has changed dramatically since its concep- tion in the 12th century, thanks to head gardener Andrea Brunsendorf, whose perennial and container plantings could scoop Gold at the Chelsea Flower Show. Instead of using humdrum terracotta pots, get more original container ideas from Roof East, on a car park atop the Stratford Shopping Centre, where colourful shrubs and saplings spring from planters of recycled pallets, decking from the Olympic Park footbridge and even vintage sports cars, although these might be trickier to source.
If sleek minimalism is more your style, you will appreciate the modern garden at Arsenal’s former Highbury Stadium. Join a pre-booked tour of precisionclipped hedging cubes, contemporary water features and pristine geometric lawns framed with Perspex walls.
One of the first low-rise, high-density housing estates in London, Lillington and Longmoore’s award-winning gardens will showcase their sensory garden with bubble fountain, classic mixed borders, Mediterranean drought plants, a children’s garden and an exotic border with yuccas, palms, agaves and cannas. All this, plus a wildlife pond and perennial meadows, in the heart of Pimlico.
Southwark Cathedral, London’s oldest Gothic church, offers a botanical trail with a difference: all the plants in the churchyard and herb garden have biblical and Shakespearean connections, but then the Bard himself worshipped here and his brother, Edmund, is buried within the grounds.
When is a weed a wildflower? Find out on a nature trail at Haringey’s Railway Fields, the former goods yard that is
Planting ideas: left, enjoy the gardens at Cleveland Square in W2 by day, then take your tour east and indulge in a herbinfused cocktail as the sun sets Gardening problems?
Buzzing: study the hives, sample the honey and drink the beer at Kennington’s Bee Urban plot, left