This week, tickets go on sale for Open Garden Squares Weekend 2018 – London’s most popular garden-visiting weekend. The annual event allows members of the public exclusive access to some of the capital’s most exciting, private and unique gardens, and to take part in a whole range of special events and activities.
Organised by the London Parks and Gardens Trust, and now in its’ 21st year, the event highlights the significant social, cultural, environmental and economic contribution that gardens, squares and green spaces make to the capital and its inhabitants.
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.
Advance tickets are priced £15, and are available by visiting www.opensquares.org
A single ticket gains access to all gardens (excluding those with special conditions for entry) for both Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 June.
This year, the garden of Number 10 Downing Street will be available via a public ballot, as will a series of guided tours of the rooftop ‘skyline’ garden at Coutts. Other gardens opening over the Weekend include Nomura International’s vast roof-top space, the floating gardens of Garden Barge Square and the flourishing growing spaces of the homeless charity Providence Row. Some of London’s premier garden squares will open, including Eaton Square, whose past residents include actress Vivien Leigh and Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, Belgrave Square, Cleveland Square and Bryanston Square. Visitors can explore the Royal College of Physicians’ medicinal garden, The Master’s Garden within the Temple complex, the gardens of Charlton Manor Primary School and bee-friendly gardens at Bee Urban and Melissa Garden Bee Sanctuary. All private, but opening their gates to visitors over the Weekend.
Ruth Holmes, Chair of the London Parks & Gardens Trust, organisers of the event, said: “London Parks and Gardens Trust opened the first gardens in 1998, hoping to cultivate knowledge and appreciation of London’s green infrastructure network. Today, over two decades on, the Weekend is a powerful celebration of the importance of gardens, squares and green spaces to the social, cultural, environmental and economic life of London.”
Highlights for 2018:
New Victoria Hall – The Institute of Ismaili Studies (N1C 4DD) – is a Stanton Williams-designed student residence with two contemporary gardens by landscape architect Vladimir Djurovic. One garden captures the essence of the gardens of southern Spain (on the first floor) and the other the gardens of Morocco (on the eighth floor). Water is a central element in both gardens, whether running through channels or installed as a contained feature.
New 49 Bankside, together with The Deanery (SE1 9JE), are two secret, tranquil gardens next to the Globe Theatre on the Southbank. Both are private, historic residences, accessed via the ancient Cardinal Cap Alley.
New South London Gallery’s (SE5 8UH) new permanent garden was created by the Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco, with support from 6a architects and horticulturalists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Orozco has exhibited extensively internationally, including a mid-career retrospective at Tate Modern in 2011. He has never before designed a garden, and transformed the largely inaccessible paved area of land at the back of the gallery’s main building into a unique sculptural work.
New Cody Dock (E16 4TL) was built on the River Lea in East London in 1871 to service coal barges for the Imperial Chemical Works. Today, with major regeneration underway, it has been transformed into a wonderful community-led riverside gardens with a creative industries quarter. It is situated halfway along The Line, London’s first dedicated contemporary art walk from the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to The O2.
New Cannon Bridge House Roof Garden (EC4R 2YA). This private roof-top terrace garden is an exemplar of planting for biodiversity, and includes many unusual and exotic plants.
New The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers (EC4M 7DD). The Company, who received their royal charter under Mary Tudor in 1557, were printers and booksellers, ‘stationed’ at fixed points in and around St Paul’s Churchyard. The hall was rebuilt after the Great Fire of London, along with its warehouse, in which the Stationers kept their stock. These buildings form three sides of a small courtyard garden dominated by a London plane tree, planted in 1837, and said to have gained nourishment from the ashes of illegal books burnt here in earlier times.
Number 10 Downing Street (SW1A 2AA) is the official residence and office of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and also the place where the Prime Minister welcomes guests – from Her Majesty The Queen to world leaders to businesses and charities. The terrace and garden at Downing Street were constructed in 1736 shortly after Walpole moved into Number 10. Entry by public ballot, no purchase necessary, see opensquares.org to enter.
Coutts (WC2R 0QS) – the Skyline garden is the brainchild of executive chef Peter Fiori and was created by the horticulturalist Richard Vine with the help of the Clink charity based at HMP High Down in 2012. It lies on each side of a narrow walkway around the roof of the building, and includes a south-facing fruit garden, a kitchen garden and a cottage garden.
Core Landscapes Community Plant Nursery and Garden (E1 2JL) is a permanent movable pocket garden and plant nursery. Now in its third site since 2009, it is transforming meanwhile spaces in deprived urban areas into hubs to promote positive mental health for all. Each move tightens the project and improves ways to grow in containers. The garden includes a container-based orchards, herbaceous borders, pond, mini-allotment, garden, plant nursery and a bus!
Providence Row (E1 7SA) is a charity supporting homeless and vulnerable people in East London and providing accredited gardening training. On the rooftop a secret garden with a wide range of fruit, vegetables, herbs, edible flowers and bees supplies the kitchen so it can prepare between 30-50 breakfasts and lunches daily!
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. A ticket bought over the weekend is priced £20. Children under 12 go free.