London's gardens will open their
doors gates from 13-14 June for this year's Open Garden Squares Weekend. Despite its name, the event isn't merely a showcase of gardens in squares, or indeed, perfectly square-shaped gardens (which would just be silly). In fact you can wander around hidden rooftop oases, the grounds of stately homes, community gardens nestled in urban jungles, and farms on the city fringes. Ballots for certain exciting gardens — including 10 Downing Street's — are now closed, but there's plenty more green goodness to gorge on. Here are our picks.
Everyone knows the best gardens are the ones you can eat. Open Garden Squares Weekend has comestible fruit and foliage galore: peruse the herbacious borders at Eastbury Manor House (14 June, 12pm-5pm) to learn how its Tudor residents used herbs for cooking and medicines; go on a self-guided plant identification tour of the herb garden and buy specimens at Thrive Battersea (13 and 14 June, 11am-4pm); sup tea at Fulham Palace Meadows Allotments (13 June, 11.30am-3.30pm); take a tour of Caledonian Park and Community Orchard (14 June, 11am-5pm); shoot the breeze with gardeners at Waterlow Park Kitchen Garden (14 June, 10am-4pm); and nosh on healthy dishes made with locally-sourced ingredients from The Russet Garden in Hackney (13 June, 10am-5pm).
Gardens belonging to posh houses
Open Garden Squares Weekend provides a great opportunity to get out to some of London's many grand houses. At Chiswick House, you can take a special tour of the restored walled gardens and conservatory before purchasing plants and veg (13 June, 11am-5pm); enjoy views of 17th-century Carshalton House's formal landscape gardens from its water tower (14 June, 1pm-5pm); peruse the formal walks and lawns, rose garden, and historic orchard of Hampstead's Fenton House (13 and 14 June, 11am-4.30pm); or nip into the small but immaculate walled garden in Chelsea, once owned by philosopher and writer Thomas Carlyle (13 and 14 June, 11am-4.30pm).
Gardens that are new to Open Garden Squares Weekend
Among those gardens you won't have seen at last year's Open Garden Squares Weekend are Forty Hill Farm in Enfield (13 and 14 June, 11am-6.30pm), home to rare breed animals and London’s only organic commercial vineyard; The Mosaic Rooms in Earls Court with its special pop-up ‘guerrilla’ garden by SmallWorld Urbanism (13 and 14 June, 11am-4.30pm); Derbyshire Street Pocket Park (13 June, 2pm-5pm); and the Barbican's newly-reinstated Beech Gardens (13 and 14 June, 10am-5pm).
Rare garden experiences
You may no longer have the chance to have a Pimm's with Dave and Sam in their back yard, but Open Garden Squares Weekend is still offering some rare al fresco experiences, including poetry recitals, tours of the garden inside Arsenal's old stadium, a Japanese roof garden and a 'bee barn'.
Tickets for Open Garden Squares Weekend are on sale now for £10 (if you buy on the day it costs £12).