Preview: Open Garden Squares Weekend

By M@ Last edited 120 months ago
Preview: Open Garden Squares Weekend

If Kew Gardens is overwhelming in its scale, why not try lots of little gardens instead? This weekend, 173 gardens around town open their gates to the public. Many are not normally accessible unless you enjoy a name like Abramovich or Chumley-Warner. Some offer wine tasting, others put on fetes and festivals, and some remain quiet for you to enjoy the tranquility of artificial nature.

The list of sites participating in Open Garden Squares weekend is somewhat overwhelming. Fortunately, the organisers have built a couple of tools to help you plan your weekend. Self-guided walks offer focused routes around the most verdant parts of town, while the garden selector acts like an advanced search, allowing you to uncover gardens that match your 'interests' (which, alarmingly, include the option 'Gardens with toilets').

Our picks? Kensington Roof Gardens is always popular, but the SOAS garden on the roof of UCL is quieter and delightfully stoney. St Dunstan in the East is an unexpected treat in the middle of the City. Hardcore gardeneers can check out the Museum of Garden History in Lambeth, and couple the visit with a look at Lambeth Palace's lawns. We're almost bored of recommending the Hill Garden on Hampstead Heath—one of the true wonders of London. Then there's the floating herbaceous borders of the Garden Barge Square (near Bermondsey) and the bomb site turned shangri-la of Bonnington Square, Vauxhall.

Something for everyone (unless you suffer extreme hay fever), and at just £7.50 for the entire weekend it is considerably cheaper than Kew.

See our picks from 2007, 2006 and 2005. Image of St Dunstan in the East gardens courtesy of Homemade from the Londonist Flickr pool.

Last Updated 05 June 2008


Shoot, I thought for a moment there they might be opening Coram's Fields to unaccompanied adults. No such luck. Must figure out how to get my hands on a child one of these days.

Mecklenburgh Square, on the east side of Coram's Fields, will be accessible, and it reportedly has a bunch of rare flora from New Zealand thanks to a past Kiwi gardener. That's about my only bit of relevant garden trivia.


I live on the abovementioned Garden Barge Square and we throw a big party for the public each year. This year we're going for a 1950s village fete feel, and just this morning I finished sewing up a whopping 34 metres of bunting. And tonight, we start baking for the weekend's bake sale... mmmm. It's the only weekend out of the year the public are allowed in past our locked security gates so we try and make everyone feel welcome.

No toilets, though!