Open Garden Squares Weekend

Last month I participated in the Open Garden Squares Weekend, an annual event organised by the London Parks and Gardens Trust. Over 200 gardens across London open their gates for one weekend, most of which are normally closed to the public.

Open Garden Squares Weekend banner

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Because there were so many gardens to choose from I had a hard job deciding which ones to visit! The gardens ranged from traditional squares to roof terraces and allotments, as well as gardens belonging to historic buildings, schools, shops and cafés.

I narrowed it down to the areas of London which were most accessible for me and went from there. I realised the Kensington Roof Gardens were open which made up my mind instantly – even if I only saw that garden I would be happy!

Kensington Roof Gardens

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It’s exactly what it says it is, just over an acre of gardens on top of a building. The idea alone is awesome, I love the thought of a natural hidden oasis overlooking London! If I lived in the capital that’s exactly what I’d want my garden to be like.

The garden is split into three different sections, the Spanish Garden, Tudor Garden and English Woodland. When I was in the Spanish Garden it felt like I was on holiday, you could definitely tell it took inspiration from the Alhambra palace in Granada.

Spanish Garden

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Stepping into the Tudor Garden was completely different, it was a beautiful green space. There were lots of evergreen shrubs, with lilies, roses and lavenders in flower. It had a lake with flamingos in it, yes real flamingos! I had to do a double-take!

Tudor Garden

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Strawberries growing on the wall!

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Flamingos!

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The English Woodland is at its best in spring when it has bulbs of daffodils, crocuses, muscari and more all flowering. It still looked pretty in summer, with tall grasses and foxgloves surrounding a small pool of water.

English Woodland

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I finished by heading up to the Babylon on the 7th floor – the views across London were breath-taking. Even though it wasn’t a clear day you could still see for miles, imagine having that as the view from your window every day. . . it was stunning!

Views from the Babylon

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I made a friend!
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I walked a minute down the road and stumbled across Kensington Square. It’s one of the earliest garden squares in London, dating from the 17th century. It was a peaceful, leafy haven of trees and a perfect square of lawn.

Kensington Square

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I then walked back along Kensington High Street, and saw the Royal Albert Hall for the very first time. I couldn’t believe it when I saw a lorry belonging to the English National Ballet parked outside, talk about a coincidence!

Impressive building in Kensington High Street

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Royal Albert Hall

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From there I visited several garden squares in the space of a few hours: Cadogan Square Gardens, Cadogan Place Gardens, Eaton Square and Belgrave Square. I love how I suddenly found myself on a street and discovered by accident several gardens on the OGSW list – I felt like Alice in Wonderland!

Cadogan Place Gardens

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Cadogan Square and Cadogan Place Gardens had some lovely herbaceous borders, I could smell a garden was nearby thanks to the fragrance of the roses!

Cadogan Square Gardens

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Lychnis coronaria

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Lychnis coronaria alba (white version)

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Eaton Square had some interesting sculptures and some great formal raised beds which were planted with vibrant flowers.

Eaton Square

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Sculptures

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Belgrave Square was quite large compared to the other garden squares, at 4.5 acres. It had fantastic London plane trees (Platanus x hispanica) and again, some excellent herbaceous borders. I took the tube to the next gardens I wanted to visit, which were right next to each other – handy for me!

Belgrave Square

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London plane tree (Platanus x hispanica)

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Sculpture

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The Middle Temple Garden was traditionally the scene of the plucking of the red rose of Lancaster and the white rose of York, as told by Shakespeare in Henry VI. Today the connection lives on with a rose called ‘William Shakespeare’ planted in the main terrace.

Middle Temple Garden

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Loved this glasshouse!
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It had a cute little glasshouse which I adored, the shrub and herbaceous borders had some bedding mixed in which gave it extra colour.

The highlight out of the two was definitely the Inner Temple Garden, there’s been a garden there since the 12th Century – legend is that the War of the Roses began after an encounter there!

Inner Temple Garden

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It had two deep herbaceous borders either side of the main gates which were in full flower, the colour combinations were so innovative and vivid. There were aquilegias, roses, poppies, lavenders, geraniums and dead allium heads which off set the rest of the plants wonderfully. It was gorgeous!

Herbaceous borders

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Aquilegia

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Peony

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London plane tree broad walk

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It had a broad walk of mature London plane trees on the side of the garden nearest the Embankment boundary – I loved seeing the river in the distance.

The last garden I visited was St Paul’s Cathedral Churchyard. The north side of the garden is home to some of the oldest London plane trees in the city as well as the capital’s only giant fir tree, while the south side has a beautiful rose garden.

St Paul’s Cathedral Churchyard garden

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I’d never seen St Paul’s Cathedral up close before so that was an added highlight for visiting the garden!

St Paul’s Cathedral

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I was knackered after trekking round London for the day but I saw some amazing, memorable gardens which I wouldn’t have got the opportunity to see at any other time of the year. I hope you enjoyed the photos! 🙂

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22 thoughts on “Open Garden Squares Weekend

  1. I love the area round the Temple. I used to work near there and walked in the Temple Gardens regularly. Beautiful photos again, Becka. I think the Kensington Roof Gardens were featured on a programme in a series shown last year on TV which tried to encourage people to garden.

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    • Thank you 🙂 the Inner Temple and Roof Gardens were my favourite places! There’s loads of green spaces in London in the middle of the streets, it was great discovering so many of them. 😀 x

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  2. Amazing Becka! I know little of London having spent only a few days there while waiting to go through Heathrow. However, for once, you showed a clip of somewhere I have passed. I spent two nights in Holland Park and walked down past The Royal Albert Hall (photo op) and walked my feet off in Kensington Park. I still have photos of the statue of Peter Pan. St. Paul’s I saw in passing from the top of one of your double decked buses. As for beginning with the roof-top garden, I would say it was a brilliant choice. Who could imagine such an oasis? Thank you Becka, it was a delightful outing. 🙂 xx

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    • Thank you Lea, so glad you enjoyed it 😀 I’m pleased you’ve had a look round London, even if it was a brief one! Kensington is a lovely place to wander round, if only I could live in the Roof Gardens! 😉 xx

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      • If not, perhaps you will create your own Roof Garden! 🙂
        I did enjoy my brief trip around London. Much earlier I had a trip to Leeds and stayed there about a month with a number of day trips. I really enjoyed the Yorkshire Sculpture Gardens and of course the moors near Haworth and the Bronte home. 😉 xx

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  3. Well Becky I didnt think you could amaze me anymore but youve gone and done it! All absolutely gorgeous and those roof top gardens are just wonderful, I dont think I knew ofheir existence, a secret world above everything! Now, how can I create one of those?! Mm.. Not gonna happen! 😊😊x

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