More than 200 London gardens will be opened to the public at this year’s Open Garden Squares Weekend.
Highlights this year include:
- Museum of the Order of St John, EC1V. The Cloister Garden was re-landscaped as part of redevelopment of the museum in 2010 and includes medicinal plants and herbs. There will be the chance to make a medieval soap ball using some of the herbs that would have been used by the Knights Hospitaller to treat their patients. The London Tea Party Company will be running a pop-up café and there will also be plants for sale and a children’s trail.
- SOAS Japanese-Inspired Roof Garden. The School of Oriental and African Studies has a small, modern Japanese-style roof garden that features a karesansui (dry landscape) with rocks, a chequerboard planting of lemon thyme alternating with grey pebbles, an engraved water basin and a raised platform for performances. The theme of the garden is ‘forgiveness’ and it is a space for quiet contemplation and meditation.
- Beech Gardens – The Barbican Estate, EC2Y. One of the City’s newest gardens, it was designed by Professor Nigel Dunnett, best known for his work at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It includes 22,000 herbaceous plants, selected to provide colour and interest throughout the flowering season and fourteen multi-stemmed trees, planted to provide structure, height and interest to the garden.
- Red Cross Garden, Redcross Way, SE1 1HA. This delightful little garden was originally laid out in 1887 on the site of a derelict paper factory by Octavia Hill, the Victorian philanthropist and co-founder of the National Trust as ‘an open-air sitting-room’ for the people of Southwark. In its heyday it was the scene of the annual Southwark flower show as well as concerts and fêtes. It is now run as a community garden and has won numerous awards.
Several gardens will be holding special events, with 27 gardens hosting poets in residence composing new work. There are also free group cycle rides taking in gardens throughout London, including Bloomsbury and the City of London.
Open Garden Squares Weekend is on 18 and 19 June across London. More information can be found at www.opensquares.org.