Thursday 4 July 2013

London Open Garden Squares weekend

London’s secret gardens
This annual event in early June has been running for fifteen years and goes from strength to strength. This year, 200 gardens were open (hint, you won’t get round  them all in a weekend, although a single  twelve pound ticket would access them all). The event is superbly organised with brochures, maps and updated internet information. The well designed maps make it deceptively easy to navigate round. You are greeted at each garden by enthusiastic and  knowledgable volunteers. 

There are all manner of gardens of every quality and style. They are normally not open to the general public or have restricted access. You see parts of London you would never see. We were particularly thrilled at the hidden gardens and cloisters only a stones’s throw from Westminster Abbey and The Houses of Parliament!

O.A.P’s riotous weekend
We have done Amsterdam’s wonderful Open Gardens Weekend three times and thought we would give London a try. We teamed up with Harry and Rowena from Preston - you might remember Harry’s recent pictures of worms on my blog. As I write I eagerly await his photos to make a decent post!

Brenda and Roger

With our seniors rail-card we booked cheap train tickets three months in advance. None refundable advance booking at the Travel Lodge, Waterloo - suitably central - was £115 for three nights for each couple. It was going to be a cheap weekend! One of the best way to navigate the gardens is to use London buses - we never used the tube. What did Gordon Brown ever do for us? He gave us our free bus passes! London buses are now so very good.

The K+K George Hotel, Templeton Place is a very fine hotel well above our pay grade. It has a very fine garden, perhaps the best we saw, It is a rare combination of superb design, fascinating garden architecture and unusual healthy plants.
I have to report we geriatric hooligans rather blotted our copybook! We inadvertently turned up in the morning when it opened at two. We brazenly entered the foyer and walked through to the garden. It was wonderful and we felt very grand. On returning through the hotel this delinquent senior in a fit of chiIdish enthusiasm could not resist plastering his latest blog on a complimentary computer (the no dig gardener was here!).

In all we managed 18 gardens over the two days. Each evening we assembled in our room for a bottle of red before going out to dinner. Nandos was best, but on Saturday night we had a special treat, a wonderful traditional London fish and chip supper! By 10pm each night we were back to our hotel and  tucked up in bed!

Rockin sixties in the park. Long tall Sally…..

Would Brenda let me take her home?
Mr Kennedy’s pictures

A fine Viburnum plicatum in Belgrave Square

This tree looks very stable in Ecclestone Square

A camelia in Ecclestone Square

A very fine ceanothus in Ecclestone Square

Lambeth Palace garden museum
Lambeth Palace garden museum

London is alive with native animal life

A small private garden at the back of Maro-Coco chocolate

Medicinal Garden at the Royal College of Physicians

Union jack opposite Lambeth palace

Westminster Abbey gardens
You can see the rest of Harry’s pictures here


  1. You sound to have had a great weekend. I did see something about this on TV - I think Joe Swift was visiting one of the gardens he hadn't seen before.

    1. Forgot to add - I love the idea of guerilla blog adverts!

    2. Cathi-next-door said she would have put the blog on ALL of the many computers in the foyer!

    3. That's what I thought you had done! Missed opportunity!

  2. That sounds like a wonderful weekend. I like the idea of seeing areas which would normally be out of bounds. A great price too, £12 giving access to all those gardens is bargainous.

    1. Yes it's a charity event and gardens receive no income from it. Indeed I imagine it costs some gardens a great deal as they spruce up for all those visitors!
      Amsterdam Open gardens I mentioned has a similar cost for about 40 gardens. Wonderful, I love your word bargainous Jo

  3. Glad to see there are such beautiful gardens in London. We will be there for the first time this September.

    1. There are many great gardens that are always open.The Open Squares website might give you a few ideas. Places like the garden museums are interesting. The garden museum at Lambeth I pictured is in an old church. The famous plant collector Tradescant is buried there.


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