Over 200 London gardens take part in Open Garden Squares Weekend

Over 200 London gardens take part in Open Garden Squares Weekend

Open Garden Squares Weekend (OGSW) takes place in London this year, opening some 216 hidden and little-known gardens to the public on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 June.

Gardens are located across 27 London boroughs and range from the historic and traditional to the new and experimental, including private gardens, roof gardens, community allotments, urban wildlife and ecology centres, as well as gardens belonging to historic buildings, institutions, restaurants, schools and shops.

Open Garden Squares Weekend is the London Parks & Gardens Trust's highest profile event, and seeks to increase knowledge and the appreciation of London's green, urban and open space network. The Weekend is presented in association with The National Trust which is helping to make the city's hidden green spaces accessible to as many people as possible.

For the 2013 Weekend, there are 18 new gardens, some included in the selection below:

North London

Allowing access to a garden rarely seen by the public, HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs (W12 0AE, East Acton) welcomes visitors over the weekend (special conditions apply: see website). Surrounded by cell blocks and a fine Portland stone chapel, the garden resembles a traditional London square, laid out with paths, lawns, flowerbeds, trees and park benches. Providing a resource to develop employment and horticultural skills, the garden is central to the prison's biodiversity plan.

Over in Crouch End, Food From The Sky (N8 8DU, Crouch Hill) is a pioneering food-growing and educational project on the roof of Thornton's Budgens community supermarket. Local people and children are all involved in growing organic vegetables, fruit and herbs to sell in the store eight metres below. Food from the Sky is about inspiring and growing a healthy and sustainable relationship with food in cities and with (community-led) supermarkets.

NEW: A new garden for 2013 is the World Peace Garden in Camden (NW3 2SB, next to Hampstead Heath station). Having been a waste-ground for more than a hundred years, the site was bought by traders, residents and visitors who have transformed the area into a peaceful woodland glade with ponds, walkways, a wishing-well and varied fragrant planting - all much loved by local people.

Fenton House & Garden (NW3 6SP, Hampstead) is managed by The National Trust and boasts extensive walled gardens, a 17th-century manor house with formal terrace walks and lawns, a sunken rose garden, meadows, a kitchen garden with culinary herb borders and a historic orchard where more than 30 varieties of English apples grow. The planting is relaxed, and gives successive colour and interest throughout the year.

NEW: The Melissa Garden Bee Sanctuary (N1 2UN, Islington) is a very small garden adjacent to the iconic Union Chapel. Left unused and hidden away for many years, the garden is overlooked by the Victorian Gothic church tower, a landmark in the local area. A hidden gem, the bee sanctuary (named 'Melissa' after the ancient Greek word for 'bee') was established to create a space for bees, giving them a protected home that follows natural beekeeping principles.

The Skip Garden (N1, King's Cross) is a mobile allotment on the King's Cross development site, built by local partners as an example of organic urban agriculture. The functions of an organic garden are literally organised into separate rubbish skips - including a growing house and green engine! The garden is a Capital Growth (new community food-growing space) educational resource and an exciting example of organic urban agriculture on one of the largest development sites in Europe.

East London & Docklands

Fassett Square (E8 1DQ, Hackney) is famed as the inspiration for Albert Square in BBC television's 'Eastenders'. The garden has been lovingly restored to its former glory by local residents, retaining the original Victorian layout of paths winding round island beds and lawns, as well as many original lime trees around the perimeter.

Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park (E3 4PX known locally as Bow Cemetery) is a historic East End cemetery that opened in 1841 and is one of London's 'Magnificent Seven' cemeteries. It closed to burials in 1966 becoming a nature reserve in 2001. Today there are 33 acres of managed mature broadleaved woodland and wildflower meadows with Victorian monuments romantically set amongst wildflowers, grasses and trees.

NEW: West Ham Park (E7 9PU, West Ham) grows over 250,000 bedding plants for world-class displays that can be seen in the Square Mile, on Hampstead Heath and also for three of the Royal Parks - Richmond, Greenwich and Bushy. Visitors will be shown behind the scenes and have the opportunity to see plants that are used for floral arrangements and functions for state banquets at the Guildhall and Mansion House, residence of the Lord Mayor of London.

The delightful Eastbury Manor (IG11 9SN, Barking & Dagenham) is a grade I listed Elizabethan manor with well-preserved walled gardens which retain their original internal brickwork, complete with bee boles (holes in the wall designed for honey bee-keeping). A quiet location providing a good contrast between ancient and modern, the garden is attractively situated by the renewed façade of the house and features herbs and flowers that would have been used in the Tudor period for cooking and medicines.

The historic Garden Barge Square (SE1 2AX, Bermondsey) is situated at Tower Bridge Moorings and dates back over 200 years. Gardens are created on the decks of many of the barges to form a truly unique 'inside-out' floating garden square, including a 'tree barge' with a square of quince trees in its centre. As well as improving the visual amenity of the area, the gardens are a vital link in the green corridor of the Thames foreshore.

Central London

Crescent Garden (W9 1ED, Maida Vale) is a three-acre communal garden that has recently been given an award as London's best large private garden square. It is surrounded by stucco-fronted houses dating from around 1865, including a grade II listed balconied terrace. Thankfully, local residents defeated plans to turn the garden into a car park in the 1970s and today it has lawns, a fine set of interesting trees, island beds and many unusual plants and shrubs, as well as a children's play space.

Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the British Medical Association Council Garden (WC1H 9JP, Tavistock Square) is an elegant town garden at Tavistock Square. A private garden, it is much esteemed by members and visitors to the BMA, but little known beyond. Planting is refreshingly green and focused around a central oval pool. A unique collection of physic plants bears witness to the continuing role of plants in contemporary pharmacology.

With connections to both Shakespeare and Dickens, Middle Temple (EC4Y 9AT, Temple) is an award-winning garden in one of the four Inns of Court, surrounded by lawyers' chambers. The name derives from the 12th-century residence of the Knights Templar, which was built on the site. Traditionally this was the scene of the plucking of the red rose of Lancaster and the white rose of York, and in 1602 the first presentation of Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night' was held in Middle Temple Hall. The feature fountain in Fountain Court appears in 'Martin Chuzzlewit' by Charles Dickens.

Fitzroy Square (W1T 6EF, Fitzrovia) is named after Charles Fitzroy, 4th Duke of Grafton, and is one of London's finest 18th century squares, designed by Robert Adam. Home to many famous artists, writers and statesmen, houses marked by blue plaques were once occupied by Victorian Prime Minister Lord Salisbury, and writers George Bernard Shaw and Virginia Woolf.

The Phoenix Garden (WC2H 8DE, off Shaftesbury Avenue) is probably the best-kept secret of London's West End, despite its many gardening awards. It provides a peaceful, green retreat and is a haven for a wide range of urban wildlife. Created by local volunteers who have triumphed over a bedrock of West End rubble and recycled at every opportunity, this is the last of the Covent Garden community gardens.

NEW: Another new feature garden for 2013 is the IPC Media Roof Garden at The Blue Fin (SE1 0SU, South Bank) situated on the 10th floor of an award-winning building with panoramic views over London and the Thames. Designed as a contemporary space for employees, the planting is simple and striking, incorporating curves with architectural foliage, flowers and grapevines to contrast with the harder lines of the building.

Gardening Leave at Royal Hospital Chelsea (SW3 4SR, Chelsea) is a haven for veterans and serving military personnel who seek horticultural therapy, working with staff and volunteers to grow vegetables for the Hospital, and cut-flowers for the Chapel and State Apartments. The garden is extremely private and encompasses a quiet area, a poppy bed, raised beds for the less mobile and has plenty of seating, showcasing many ways of growing vegetables in containers, which the veterans can then take home.

Calling all chocoholics! MaRoCoCo Garden at Rococo Chocolates (SW1X 8JU, Belgravia) is a small courtyard garden managed by chocolate guru Chantal Coady, the shop's founder. Once a neglected city space with a lone acacia tree, the garden now features a Moroccan tile mosaic and is filled with fragrant plants all used in the Rococo repertoire: rose, lavender, geranium, mint, jasmine and a kaffir lime. The result is a stunning asymmetric mirrored courtyard that is a haven for birds in the middle of Belgravia.

The Lillington & Longmore Gardens Estate (SW1V 2LD, Pimlico) gardens are a conservation area in one of the first low-rise, high-density housing estates in London. Features include classic mixed borders, meadows, wildlife and Mediterranean areas, an exotic border, a sensory garden, pergolas, vegetables and a garden club area. The estate has won Best Garden for Wildlife in the Westminster in Bloom competition and achieved a Green Flag award for excellent management and maintenance for six years running.

Eaton Square (SW1W 9BD, Belgravia) is one of London's premier addresses with a layout begun in 1826 by Thomas Cubitt for the Grosvenor Estate. The square is divided into six gardens, with one of these accessible for Open Garden Squares Weekend. All perfectly manicured, there are mixed borders around two formal lawns, a tranquil retreat of paths, formal raised beds and seating. Famous past residents include Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and 'Gone With The Wind' actress Vivien Leigh.

South London

The Jamyang Buddhist Centre (SE11 4NA, Kennington) garden is a peaceful retreat located in the original Victorian exercise yard for prisoners of the Old Kennington Courthouse. Covering around 120 square metres, the area is set out with a magnificent golden Buddha statue, the onsite café and a small meditative garden space. The gated courtyard garden is maintained by volunteers and planted with a mixture of shrubs, climbers, perennials and annuals, and features a magnolia tree planted by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1999.

NEW: Used as a set for the Oscar-winning film 'The King's Speech', Iliffe Yard (SE17 3QA, Walworth) is one of three Victorian cobbled yards that hosts fifty studios and workshops for artists and crafts-makers that are also opening their doors to the public throughout the Weekend. Urban pocket gardens in raised beds, ground-level planting, pots and nesting areas show how a garden can be created from the tiniest budget and in the unlikeliest of space - an inspiring and colourful oasis!

NEW: A new garden for 2013 is The Woodlands Farm Trust (DA16 3RP, Shooters Hill), an award-winning 89-acre city farm compromising hay meadows, wildlife ponds and woodlands that are maintained by volunteers on organic principles and for the benefit of wildlife. The garden contains a variety of flower beds, a vegetable patch, shrubs along the borders and a small pond. Everything is grown from seed and visitors can buy a plant in the sale during the Weekend.

Red House (DA6 8JF, Bexleyheath) offers a simple garden and orchard surrounding the only house commissioned, created and lived in by William Morris, founder of the Arts and Crafts movement, and an artist central to the work of the Pre-Raphaelites. Red House and its grounds retain extraordinary architectural and social significance, and when completed in 1860 were described by artist Edward Burne-Jones as 'the beautifullest place on earth'.

The grounds of the 17th-century Carshalton House - Carshalton House Landscape Gardens (SM5 3NY) - feature the remains of a formal landscape garden of 1716-20, early gardens which may have been designed by Charles Bridgeman and in impressive and ornate baroque water tower by architect Henry Joynes, containing an orangery, pump chamber and plunge bath.

NEW: Gloucester Circus (SE10 8RY, Greenwich) was designed by Regency architect Michael Searles in the 1790s, with a substantial central garden. It is a simple oval shape with perimeter beds, shrubs and one island bed, with a fine and impressive collection of about 40 trees including three mature planes, two tulip trees, a paulownia, a judas tree, two weeping ash, a mulberry, a walnut and an ailanthus.

West London

No. 7 Hammersmith Terrace (W6 9TS, Hammersmith) is one of a terrace of 17 Georgian houses overlooking the Thames at the west end of Hammersmith's Upper Mall. It was home (from 1903 until his death in 1933) to Emery Walker, the great printer and antiquary, who was a friend of William Morris. Full of original William Morris features, the house boasts a superb Arts and Crafts interior. The garden features a raised platform overlooking the Thames, original terracotta tiles from the 1890s, a grapevine grown from a cutting taken at Hogarth's House around 1900 and a Cotswold-stone alpine trough.

Fulham Palace Meadows Allotment Association (SW6 6EA) runs this site right on the banks of the Thames. A gift from the Bishop of London in 1916, the area covers an Anglo-Saxon site of historical importance. With 406 plots, a visit offers a unique and exceptional experience within this inner-city haven. The newly restored gardens of Fulham Palace, home to the Bishops of London from AD 700 to 1973, are also participating in Open Garden Squares Weekend.

Many gardens also present stalls, music, entertainment, family and art activities, food and drink.

One ticket gains access to all gardens for both Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 June. An advance weekend ticket is £10 (including fees/p&p) available from www.opensquares.org or from City Information Centre (CIC - between St Paul's Cathedral and Millennium Bridge). A ticket bought over the weekend itself is £12. National Trust Members go half price. For children under 12, admission is free all weekend.

For more information about Open Garden Squares Weekend and full listings for each participating garden, visit: www.opensquares.org

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