Fruits, flowers and vegetables of the kitchen garden.
Although we have only a few gardens in the vast North West area, all share the idea of growing for eating. Three have walled kitchen gardens and the other is a small vegetable garden in a school. Whether visiting the exuberant Osterley House Gardens (TW7 4RD) (A1) open on both days or the fascinating Roe Green Walled Garden (NW9 9HA) (A4) Saturday only, visitors can see magnificent specimens of ornamental vegetables and fruit. On Sunday, the George V Memorial Garden (HA8 6RH) (A3), another walled kitchen garden in Canons Park, has many food-themed activities, including give-away recipes and a herb walk.
You might want to plan a route visiting nearby gardens in other areas – it is a short car ride from Osterley House Gardens (YW7 4RD) ( A1) to the glorious gardens of Strawberry Hill House (TW1 4ST).
Introduction to Area B - North East London
Covering a wide geographical area, the majority of the gardens in the North East area are near the A105 (Green Lanes) or the A10 and are easily explored by car.
In Stoke Newington, Abney Park, an early Victorian cemetery and now a nature reserve, and Clissold Community Garden, primarily a food growing project behind private housing, are within walking distance of each other and provide vastly different garden experiences.
Further north a range of different gardens are open, including the green space of Bowes Park, well used by the local community, Woodcroft Wildspace in Winchmore Hill allows exploration of a diversity of habitats, whilst the Winchmore Hill Friends Meeting House and Burial Grounds provide a tranquil setting in which to relax at any time. Beyond Enfield, Myddelton House, the home of renowned C20th plantsman E A Bowles, greets visitors to a stunning eight acres to explore and enjoy.
Located in the east of the area, visit Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, at the heart of the redevelopment of east London. Further along you can visit Eastbury Manor and Rainham Hall, both close to the A13.
Introduction to Area C - South East London
Area Coordinator: Duncan Catterall
The South East offers a diverse selection of gardens, all reflecting their local communities making them very family-friendly. From the hidden charm of Ballast Quay (SE10 9PD), set on the banks of the Thames and offering views of the Docklands, to the secluded intrigue of Charlton Manor Primary School’s Secret Garden (SE7 7EF), each has its own unique personality.
New this year, Wildcat Wilderness (SE6 4PL) will excite all ages with a maze of passageways leading to hidden areas and bushcraft activities.
On Sunday, the nearby garden of Culverley Green (SE6 2JZ) will be holding a garden fête, while Winsford Gardens (SE20 7RN) will be offering tea, cake and garden tours, and The Centre for Wildlife Gardening(SE15 4EE) offers an engaging insight into the potential of your own garden. Also, explore the historic property and delightful gardens of the National Trust’s Red House (DA6 8JF), open all weekend!
Introduction to Area D - South West London
Area Coordinator: Sarah Duffin
The gardens of South West London all play a part in London’s historical story. The gardens are open on either Saturday or Sunday, so planning ahead is essential!
Open on Saturday (only!), start your historical journey at Kingston University's Dorich House, the former home of Russian artist and sculptor Dora Gordine, with its orchard and stunning rooftop terrace. A stone's throw away across Richmond Park, (and Charles I’s old hunting ground), will get you to your second destination, Trumpeters' House, once the site of Richmond Palace, where you can enjoy tea, cake and a stroll around its immaculate lawns. Down the Thames path, pop in to Woodville Day Centre, a beautiful and brightly coloured sensory Garden, before getting the foot ferry across to the 18th Century garden at Strawberry Hill House.
On Sunday (only!) visit the Putney / Wandsworth area for a day of horticultural variation. Start your journey in the bright and cheerful garden at Roehampton Club, before heading down the road to visit the beautiful listed grounds at Grove House Estate and Downshire House (part of Roehampton University). Head on up to the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability just off the A3 where you will find the award-winning cloister garden and original works of Humphrey Repton and Capability Brown. For a tranquil end to your day, do not miss the gardens at Southside House and its huge variety of wildlife. For a day down in South London (perhaps best visited by car) don’t miss the award winning gardens at Whitgift School or the early 18th century landscape at Carshalton House Landscape Garden.
Introduction to Area E - Hammersmith and Fulham
The gardens of Hammersmith and Fulham offer a mix of horticultural styles within a vast array of historical settings. All gardens (bar Fulham Palace) are normally closed to the public, offering the public an area of real exclusivity.
Working south to north, start your journey exploring the historical gardens of Fulham Palace, home to the Bishops of London between 700 and 1973. All Saints Vicarage Garden and Fulham Palace Meadows Allotments are normally closed to the public, with Fulham Palace opening its gates to show off its third phase of restoration to reflect the 17th-Century landscape design, including many interesting rare trees and plants.
Just up Fulham Palace Road you can explore the historical home and gardens once belonging to Emery Walker and the William Morris Society, both situated a stone's throw away from each other.
Walking up to Ravenscourt Park, you can explore and take inspiration from the community glasshouses and a beautiful walled garden including a medicinal herb border and vegetable plots.
Introduction to Area F - Hampstead and Highgate
Area Coordinator: Anne Grieg
Constable painted the open spaces of Hampstead Heath but this selection of gardens affords a more intimate view of the area, from Alexandra Road Park, designed as the centrepiece of an award-winning modernist housing development of the 1970s, to the site of the 18th-century pump room, now Gainsborough Gardens with its luxurious planting and big trees, a wonderful place to lie on the grass.
Hidden away from the busy High Street, Branch Hill Allotments is a secluded and charming site that is a pleasure to visit. The Burial ground of Hampstead Parish Church, managed for nature conservation and wildlife, is a journey through the social history of the village. John Keats sought inspiration in nature and his charming garden at Keats House is bound to inspire the budding poet. The World Peace Garden is a sanctuary where hospital patients and visitors, passers-by, mothers and children all come to reflect and relax. The roses are wonderful and smell lovely.
Introduction to St Pancras + Islington
The south of this area is dominated by the King's Cross redevelopment, where you can find the roof gardens of
Victoria Hall and the Skip Garden, which has moved around as the area developed.
Introduction to Area H - Hackney and Bethnal Green
In this historic part of the East End you will find personal endeavour in abundance! Food production goes together with a strong social life in the Cranbrook Estate Community Garden, Approach Gardens, St Peter's Church, St Mary's Secret Garden, and Dalston Eastern Curve Garden.
The results of all the hard work are enjoyed in beautiful green spaces at Gloucester Square Residents' Garden (on the Regent's Canal), St Joseph's Hospice, and Fassett Square, and in all these areas the residents are working hard and resourcefully to create beautiful and peaceful, as well as useful, environments.
Introduction to Area I - Docklands
Area Coordinator: Candy Blackham
In the 19th century, London was the world’s biggest port and docks lined the River Thames; but in 1960-80 all these docks closed to commercial traffic. Today the area has been imaginatively regenerated.
Providence Row and Core Landscapes link 'meanwhile gardens' and therapeutic activities; Winterton House Garden has transformed a rubbish dump into a beguiling garden; Cable Street Community Garden recalls the history of the area in an organic growing site, Canary Wharf is a thriving, trading ‘City’ in the former West India Docks with a stunning roof garden; Lavender Pond and Stave Hill are ecology parks in the former Surrey Commercial Docks; and the Garden Barges, boats previously used for river trade, have a new life as homes with gardens.
Do take time to visit Cody Dock (to be regenerated and on The Line art walk) and nearby Bow Creek Ecology Park, the beautiful Thames Barrier Park, Mudchute Park and Farm, and the Ada Salter Garden in historic Southwark Park.
Introduction to Area J - Lambeth and Clapham
Area Coordinator: Jock Blakey
The gardens of the Lambeth and Clapham area will take you on a journey through the amazing power of plants.
The South London Botanical Institute has been a centre of excellence for the study of plants since 1910 and is opening up its fascinating Institute building, including the botanical library and herbarium.
There are two community gardens, Brockwell Park Community Greenhouses and the Eden Community Garden, which both demonstrate how people can engage with plants to achieve different aims brilliantly, while the garden of the Royal Trinity Hospice shows how plants can provide a place of tranquillity and healing at times of stress.
Nightingale Square may look like just another residential square but it contains some magnificent trees, some which have reached their centenary, providing not only shade but flowers and fruit. Enjoy!
Introduction to Area K - Notting Hill and North Kensington
Area Coordinator: Marlene Johnson
From historic squares and royal crescents to community gardens and a bowling club
There are 14 open gardens to choose from in this lush part of Central London. Around Ladbroke Grove you will find listed gardens, many of which were created in the mid 19th Century and are part of the Ladbroke and Norland Estates, whilst a number of community gardens are to be found north of St Quintin Avenue.
Enjoy Saturday by exploring the award-winning community garden of Phoenix Farm (K7 W12 7DB), an acre of land in the middle of the White City Estate, before moving on to St Quintin’s Community Kitchen Garden (K12 W10 6NX), where you’ll enjoy seeing an amazing array of fruit, vegetables and flowers being grown.
Start Sunday morning by visiting ‘the hidden gem of W10’, West London Bowling Club (K15 W10 6PL). Originally founded in 1903 and patronised by royalty, the gardens went through a long period of neglect until 2014, when the local population and nearby St Quintin’s (above) responded to an appeal to restore them.
Enjoy your Sunday afternoon by taking in the peaceful setting of Hanover Gardens (K1 W11 3LN), once the home of Dame Sylvia Crowe, garden designer and landscape architect, before moving on to Ladbroke Square Garden (K2 W11 3BJ), one of the largest private squares in London. Originally the site of the Hippodrome racecourse before the going got too heavy, the gardens as laid out today follow Thomas Allason’s design of 1849. Local to these squares can be found the crescents of Rosmead Gardens (K8 W11 2JG) and Stanley Crescent Garden (K13 W11 2NA), recently voted best garden square in Kensington and Chelsea.
Introduction to Area L - Marylebone, Bayswater and Little Venice
Area Coordinator: Adeline Schlumberger
When you first enter the gardens of Marylebone, Bayswater and Little Venice, you see and feel the enthusiasm and energy that locals have invested in them and can witness the care, good will, ecological concern that combine to make them beautiful and special.
The gardens are amazing and diverse. In Marylebone visit the three garden squares surrounded by Georgian houses of the Portman estate and look at the magnificent old plane trees; visit the south end of Regent’s Park and walk the Nursemaids' Tunnel that links Park Square with Park Crescent Gardens; marvel at the medicinal garden with its dangerous ‘natural’ plants at the Royal College of Physicians; lose yourself in the eleven acres that surround Regent’s University London and explore Regent's Park Allotment Garden. Go to Bayswater’s gardens and relish the vivid colours and flowers and be impressed by the evident ecological concerns; in Little Venice hunt down the fantastic gardens that are secret and hidden, reflecting 19th-century concepts of garden design. Come, visit and enjoy!
Introduction to Area M - Bloomsbury
Area Coordinator: Lynne Eva
London is world famous for its Georgian Squares and a walk around the Bloomsbury area will immerse you in the finest 18th-century squares and gardens, showcasing historical planting schemes; but it will also dive into smaller courtyard designs relevant for the 21st century.
On Saturday, wander through Russell Square and take in some pop-up history lectures in Gordon Square. A visit to the British Medical Association garden is a must, the courtyard garden highlighting physic planting and natural health. Continue via the serene International Lutheran Student Centre courtyard, through Brunswick Square to Collingham Gardens Nursery, to see how wild outdoor playgrounds can be achieved in central London.
The Bloomsbury area can be walked in a day, with plenty of the gardens putting on delicious tea/coffee/cake stalls. A good route would start at Fitzroy Square (Sunday only), wander through Bedford Square and Ridgmount Gardens, down through Soho to the recently renovated award winning Phoenix Garden, then back north again via the October Gallery (Saturday only) to include some art in your day.
Also on Sunday, walking through St George's Gardens leads you to Mecklenburgh Square and the more modern Goodenough College gardens (both Sunday only). Finish up by buying a plant or two at the Calthorpe Project Community Garden, and then have a 10 minute walk to Lloyd Square and admire the lush perennial planting scheme to round off the day.
Introduction to Area N - City and South Bank
Area Coordinator: Marion Blair
Ancient and Historic to Contemporary and Urban – Greening the City
Crammed into the Square Mile are over 30 gardens opening for 2018. The range is fantastic, from the stunning gardens of the Inns of Court and Livery Companies to the exuberant rooftop potagers via volunteer-created and community gardens. New highlights are the private garden of the Worshipful Company of Stationers, (EC4M 7DD) (Sunday ), the joyous plantings at Cannon Bridge Roof Gardens (EC4R 2YA) (Sunday – limited numbers) and the historic secret garden of 49 Bankside (SE1 9JE - Saturday).
Discover the community of Golden Baggers (EC1Y 0ST) and the fascinating Barbican Wildlife garden (EC2Y 8BR)(Saturday & Sunday) or on Sunday explore the glorious gardens at Middle Temple (EC4Y 9AT), Inner Temple (EC4Y 7HL) and the Master's House (EC4Y 7DE). Gaze over the City from the wonderful garden rooftops of Nomura (EC4R 3AB) and Eversheds-Sutherland (EC2V 7WS) (Saturday & Sunday) or spend a late evening at the beautiful Museum of the Order of St John (EC1V 4JJ) (Saturday).
On Saturday visit the stunning garden gems of The Deanery (SE1 9JE), combined with next door’s Tate Modern Community garden (SE1 9TG) or on Sunday seek out the award-winning beautiful Drapers' Garden (EC2N 2DQ) and Vestry House (EC4R 0EH).
Introduction to Area O - Kensington, Brompton and Chelsea
Area Coordinator: Daniel Cutter
Kensington, Brompton and Chelsea offer some of the greatest examples of the true ‘London Square’. A ‘uniquely English device’ the London Square was born from the social structure of Georgian society and came to define the streets and squares pattern of central London. With the majority of the squares in Area O having remained private and residential throughout hundreds of years, there is no better time or place to experience these gardens as the exclusive social enclaves they were intended to be.
The history of this area is further enhanced by its diverse modern additions; wildlife gardens, cultural gardens and a later form of shared residential garden all contribute to an area rich with horticultural, historical, social, cultural and architectural interest.
Introduction to Area P - Westminster, Belgravia and Pimlico
Belgravia and Pimlico are characterized by stucco-fronted terraces developed by Thomas Cubitt in the first half of the 19th century. Set among these are a number of garden squares.
Belgrave Square is deceptively large, with gardens within gardens, whereas Chester Square is more intimate. Wilton Crescent has a white theme, while Eaton Square is... Eaton Square. Over in Pimlico, the similarly dimensioned Eccleston Square and Warwick Square reflect the differing passions of their gardeners and residents.
These squares were following the lead of John Nash, who included Waterloo Place East Garden in his development of Carlton House Terrace earlier in the 19th century.
At the smaller and more recent end of the scale are the basement garden of Marococo and the roof garden of the Ham Yard Hotel.
If you are visiting Belgravia, the gardens of Cadogan Place, in Area O, are also within walking distance.
Introduction to Area Q - North Lambeth and Southwark
Area Coordinator: Jock Blakey
The residents of this area have created an extraordinary range of community gardens from the garden of Bonnington Square – where a giant hand balanced over the entrance beckons you into the garden to embark on a journey of dreams – to the Kath Gilmore Community Garden, which has conjured up a place of beauty on what was a disused courtyard. In the Jamyang Buddhist Centre you can see a garden created for meditation and reflection, visited by the Dalai Lama.
At the other extreme, the gardens of the South London Gallery are a gorgeous sculptural work created along the lines of geometry – certainly worth a diversion.
Other gardens in the area celebrate sustainability and wildlife and plant diversity. Bees and chickens can be found at Glengall Wharf, and Bee Urban is famous across London. Walworth Garden, a disused piece of ground reclaimed by local residents, is now a QCF-accredited Horticultural Learning Centre.
This is an area that shows the power of people to transform their neighbourhoods!