Open Garden Squares Weekend, London’s most popular garden-visiting weekend, includes a varied programme of free events, workshops, and activities for children. This year, ticket holders can enjoy open-air performances of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, herb discovery walks, botanical trails, perfumery and a poetry workshop, plant sales, meditation sessions, butterfly and moth walks, and an evening cocktail bar. Children and families can take part in wildflower planting and insect house building, arts and crafts, nature trails and pond-dipping. All these events and activities are included for free with the purchase of a weekend ticket.
Open Garden Squares Weekend is an annual event, now in its’ 21st year, which allows members of the public exclusive access to some of the capital’s most exciting, private and unique gardens. This year, over 200 gardens will participate in the Weekend – ranging from the historic and traditional to the new and experimental. There are community gardens, gardens in schools and churches, on rooftops, on railway platforms, in skips, behind shops, and floating on the water.
At the Red Cross Garden in Southwark there will be a garden-themed poetry ‘erasure’ workshop with Dr Emma Filtness. Drop-in and create new poems by erasing words from an existing text and placing what’s left as a new poem on a page. Using photocopies from old texts about flowers and gardens and armed with Sharpies and highlighters, participants will unearth poems hidden in the prose. Poetry workshop running Saturday 1-4.30pm. For other poetry activities click here.
At the Royal College of Physicians’ Medicinal Garden, near Regent’s Park, visitors can explore an elegant and educational medicinal plant garden with over 1000 different plants, linked to the story of medicine. Special trails have been organised to highlight plants used by Dr William Harvey – who discovered the circulation of the blood in 1628. The Garden Fellows will give tours throughout the day, on the 1,100 plants connected to medicines worldwide. Saturday & Sunday 10-5pm
The Museum of the Order of St John in Clerkenwell is a cloister garden planted with medicinal plants and herbs to reflect the work of the Knights Hospitaller and recalling the former gardens of the medieval Clerkenwell Priory. This year the Museum is hosting a ‘late’ session on Saturday evening. There will be a pop-up cocktail bar serving Mediterranean cocktails, inspired by the Order’s Maltese history, and live music. Free with a Weekend ticket or £5 on the door. Saturday 5-9pm.
Abney Park, N16, Saturday & Sunday
Butterfly and moth walks, botanical walks, historical tour of the historic cemetery.
Bonnington Square, SW8, Saturday & Sunday
Two open-air performances of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night on Saturday. Check website closer to the Weekend for times.
Canons Park, George V Memorial Garden, Harrow, Sunday 1-5pm
Gardening workshops, herb discovery walks, yoga and arts and crafts
Centre for Wildlife Gardening, SE15, Sunday 10.30-4.30pm
Wildlife tours, bug-hunting, pond-dipping, wild garden trail.
Charlton Manor Primary School Secret Garden, SE7, Saturday 10-5pm
Pond-dipping, garden tours, exploration of the observation beehive.
Jamyang Buddhist Centre, SE11, Saturday 10-4pm
Guided tours, including meditations sessions.
King Henry’s Walk Garden, N1, Saturday & Sunday
Summer Fete on Saturday with garden games, Pimms, pizza from wood-fired oven, plant sale, tea and homemade cakes.
Southwark Cathedral Churchyard and Herb Garden, SE1, Saturday & Sunday
Shakespearean botanical trail, herbal workshops in the monastic themed herb garden, special choral evensong at 4pm on Saturday.
The Compound, Stave Hill Ecological Park, SE16, Saturday & Sunday
On Saturday take part in creating a wildflower meadow or build an insect house, on Sunday meet the beekeeper.
Walworth Garden, SE17, Saturday & Sunday
A series of workshops, including gardening, herbal medicine, natural perfumery and beekeeping.
World Peace Garden, NW3, Saturday & Sunday
Children are invited to tie a tag to the wall of hope, music, song, poetry, storytelling, art classes, puppet show and fairy show.
Please check website for more information, and exact opening times of individual gardens by visiting opensquares.org
Twitter: @OpenSquares #OGSW18
Ticket information: one ticket gains access to all gardens (excluding those with special conditions for entry) for both Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 June. Advance tickets are priced £15 and available from www.opensquares.org. A ticket bought over the weekend is priced £20. Children under 12 go free.