Open Gar­den Squares Week­end gives you the keys to gar­den gates across the city, says Sarah Riches

Where London - - Contents -

Ssssh! Take a trip to one of London’s se­cret gar­dens and open spaces.

This month you can es­cape the con­crete jun­gle dur­ing Open Gar­den Squares

Week­end (17-18 Jun). Or­gan­ised by London Parks & Gar­dens Trust, the event grants ac­cess to pri­vate or lit­tle-known pub­lic spaces that you might not oth­er­wise hear about.

The event launched in 1998 with 40 pri­vate squares, and has since ex­panded to in­clude 230 di­verse spaces in­clud­ing al­lot­ments, skips, church­yards and rooftops. One of this year’s high­lights is a chance to visit

Cross­rail Place Roof Gar­den, which sits above Ca­nary Wharf Cross­rail sta­tion; the ex­otic gar­den is in­spired by the area’s rich mar­itime her­itage. Sit and soak in the sights and scents of the gar­den’s ferns, grasses and flow­er­ing shrubs.

The trust’s chair­man, Ed Ikin, says: ‘My favourite gar­den is Sycamore House, a care home in Ham­mer­smith, west London. It’s full of fruit and plants that ex­ploit a mi­cro­cli­mate. It re­minds me that good gar­den­ing can hap­pen in any space with the req­ui­site skills and willpower.’ This year, old favourites in­clud­ing Ful­ham

Palace and SOAS’s Ja­panese Roof Gar­den are tak­ing part, as well as some new venues such as the walled gar­den at the 17th-cen­tury Forty Hall in Bar­net; Keats House – where the Ro­man­tic poet John Keats once strolled – and Gash­older Park, de­signed in 1850s’ cast iron gash­old­ers at King’s Cross.

There is a host of ac­tiv­i­ties, too. Sip cock­tails made with fruit and herbs from The Brunel Mu­seum’s gar­den while en­joy­ing a sound and light show in its un­der­ground cham­ber. You can also try your hand at bee­keep­ing and can­dle-mak­ing, or taste honey and honey beer at Bee Ur­ban in Ken­ning­ton Park.

Ikin adds: ‘ Vis­i­tors can make her­bal tea bags at Cord­wain­ers Gar­den in Hack­ney, take part in a work­shop with a botan­i­cal il­lus­tra­tor at High­gate Day Cen­tre Gar­den and do yoga in King George V Me­mo­rial Gar­den in Canons Park.’ Chil­dren, mean­while, can go pond dip­ping at Haringey Rail­way Fields, plant flow­ers at All Saints Church gar­den in West Dul­wich, watch a tra­di­tional Punch and Judy show in Ea­ton Square in Bel­gravia, and hear a story

and tie a wish to a tree of hope at Cam­den’s World Peace Gar­den. Need a pit stop? Then visit the veg­e­tar­ian café at Freight­lin­ers City Farm in Is­ling­ton, or sam­ple some botan­i­cal-in­spired gin cock­tails and gin and tonic ice cream from the Gin Gar­den at pretty Cleve­land Square, not far from Padding­ton sta­tion. You can also take af­ter­noon tea at the Grade II-listed Grange White Hall Ho­tel. Once a Ge­or­gian town­house, the ho­tel is lo­cated close to The Bri­tish Mu­seum in Blooms­bury. No doubt you will have a blooming lovely week­end.

Clock­wise from this im­age: No­mura In­ter­na­tional PLC’s gar­den in the City; Ec­cle­ston Square; Roof Gar­den in Ca­nary Wharf Inset: King Henry’s Walk Gar­den

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