Tour London’s secret gardens: hidden outdoor spaces to visit during London Square Open Gardens Weekend

·3-min read
Cable Street community gardens in Shadwell (enthusiasticgardener.com)
Cable Street community gardens in Shadwell (enthusiasticgardener.com)

Get your maps and walking boots ready, this weekend London Square Open Gardens Weekend (Formerly Open Garden Squares weekend) returns in real life for the first time since the pandemic.

Between 11th - 12th June, over 100 gardens usually hidden on roof tops, in courtyards and behind walls and fences open to the public. Weekend tickets are a reasonable £20 from the London Gardens Trust website and grant you access to nearly all of the gardens. You can also book cycling and walking tours to avoid the stress of planning your own route.

Here’s my pick of the gardens to see across the capital this weekend.

Ham Yard Hotel Roof Garden W1

Open: Sunday 10:00 - 17:00

Five storeys above the boutique courtyard between Ham Yard and Denman Place is an equally charming roof garden. Growing embellishments for the Ham Yard Hotel menu, between ancient olives, the roof garden is packed full of edible flowers and summer fruits.

Eccleston Square SW1

Open: Sunday 14:00 - 17:00

Minutes from Victoria Station, this beautiful garden square takes much of its influence from the Late botanist and photographer Roger Phillips MBE and contains a number of rarely-seen species like the kangaroo apple, Solanum laciniatum, magnificent climbing roses and harder to grow tea roses flowering in succession throughout the year.

Eccleston Square in Pimlico (Instagram @ecclestonsquarehotel)
Eccleston Square in Pimlico (Instagram @ecclestonsquarehotel)

Carlton House Terrace SW1

Open: Saturday 10:00 - 16:00

Ever wondered what lies behind the grand stucco houses designed by John Nash that line The Mall? On Saturday the gardens of Carlton House Terrace open, showcasing winding serpentine paths and traditional English garden planting, after the garden was restored in the 2000’s.

Portman Square W1

Open: Sunday 12:00 - 17:00

Two blocks back from the madness of Oxford Street and Marble Arch you’ll find the peaceful Portman Square, one of London’s traditional Garden Squares. Flanked with plant trees, the garden is planted with woodland perennials, a nod to the original wilderness landscape design of the 1780’s.

Cable Street community gardens in Shadwell (enthusiasticgardener.com)
Cable Street community gardens in Shadwell (enthusiasticgardener.com)

Cable Street Community Gardens E1

Open: Sunday 11:00 - 16:00

If you cycle, chances are you have zoomed past this special corner of East London many times, oblivious to what is hiding behind the railings that join Cable Street. One of the largest community gardens in the area, Londoners of all backgrounds come together to grow food and flowers in the space.

All organic, the garden is packed full of fruit trees, wildlife ponds and pollinator friendly plants. A series of activities for all ages will be on offer throughout the day.

Barbican Wildlife Garden, Fann Street EC2

Open Saturday and Sunday 10:00 - 17:00

Think you know the Barbican? Think again. Between the quarry tiles and concrete pillars of the estate discover a hidden garden, providing essential habitats for wildlife in one of the most urbanised and heavily developed parts of the country.

Home to over 300 species of animal and insect, and cared for by residents, this weekend is your chance to see the estate from a new perspective.

The Barbican’s hidden wildlife garden (londongardenstrust.org)
The Barbican’s hidden wildlife garden (londongardenstrust.org)

Royal College of Physicians’ Medicinal Garden NW1

Open Saturday and Sunday 10:00 - 17:00

This garden is a treat for plant lovers. Located near the southeastern corner of Regents Park, the Medicinal Garden contains over 1000 plant species that have been used throughout history to heal and cure, some more effectively than others…

Much like a botanic garden many of the plants are labelled with scientific names, and fellows from the Royal College will be on hand delivering guided tours across the weekend.

Also this week:

British Flowers Week 9-13th June

The Garden Museum in collaboration with New Covent Garden Market each year turns the museum into an immersive floral phenomenon to champion British grown flowers. Head to the museum on the 10th June for their up late session from 6-9pm, with drinks, music and more.

Tickets: £14, available on the Garden Museum’s website.

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