The Open Garden Squares Weekend aims to increase knowledge and appreciation of parks, squares, community gardens and other green spaces in London. Organised by The London Parks & Gardens Trust in association with the National Trust, 15 years in a row since 1998, the event allows the public to visit secret parks and gardens across London.
Blue Fin Building
Charlie and I decided to visit a few of the green areas in central London and started our journey from the top of the Blue Fin Building. The Blue Fin Garden is situated on the 10th floor of an award-winning building with panoramic views of London. The garden was designed by Matthew Bell, who continues to look after the plants.
Calthorpe Project Community Garden
After a little wander around the roof garden we took a bus to Calthorpe Project Community Garden. The garden was opened in 1984 after local residents campaigned against the sale of the land for development. Today the area contains community composting area, Bangladeshi Women’s plots and wild garden. I really enjoyed their ceramic benches, so pretty.
We carried on through the peaceful St George’s Park Gardens towards Brunswick Square which was named after Caroline Brunswick, the Prince Regent’s wife. The square was the first church burial ground in London not to be sited next to their churches. Apparently, the first recorded case of ‘body-snatching’ took place here in 1777.
In Jane Austen’s Emma, Mr and Mrs John Knightley make their home in Brunswick Square.
This is the second oldest plane tree in London (I am not entirely sure where is the first one).
Mecklenburgh Square, named after queen Charlotte, formerly Princess of Mecklenburg – Strelitz, is a private square, so it was nice to peak in. Located next door to the Goodenough College, a children’s play area, barbecue area and tennis court cater for the large number of postgraduate students and their families living around the square.
While wandering around we came across a bunch of children raising money for their favourite charities by selling homemade cakes and tea. The cakes were cute and the chocolate one that I bought was called ‘a very good one’. It was really yummy.
Goodenough College – London House and William Goodenough House Quadrangles
Just round the corner from the Mecklenburgh Square is Goodenough College – London House and William Goodenough House Quadrangles. The college was established in 1931 by Frederick Goodenough as a collegiate home for overseas postgraduate students studying in the city.
After a 15 month renovation, this neo – Georgian building, designed by Sir Herbert Baker, was reopened in 2012. The college provides accommodation to 700 students from 80 different countries, studying at over 70 institutions in London.
The Academy Gardens
The Academy Gardens, unfortunately, were such a disappointment. The garden needs to scrub up a little bit. It’s a lovely space just not looked after enough. A little feature that I liked in the courtyard.
SOAS Japanese – Inspired Gardens
We took another bus to see the SOAS Japanese – Inspired Gardens. The small garden is situated on the roof of The School of Oriental and African Studies. The main features of the garden pictured below are a dry landscape with rocks (karesansui) and a raised platform for performances. The garden’s theme is ‘forgiveness’ and it’s a space for meditation.
Westminster Abbey gardens
Westminster Abbey has a few gardens: Dean’s Yard, Great Cloister Garth, Little Cloister, Catherine’s Garden and College Garden – known to be the oldest in England! I had lots of fun there, it was lovely, only a bit too busy.
The Garden Museum
The day was coming to an end so we crossed Lambeth Bridge and popped into The Garden Museum. The 17th century style knot garden was officially opened in 1983 by HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. A lovely and pleasant space, but not my favourite.
I really enjoyed the Open Garden Squares event. It was a really fun day out checking out the secret and private gardens that you wouldn’t normally be able to peek in. Even though we only visited a fraction of the 200 public and private gardens, squares and parks involved in the event, it was great to be able to nose around.
Have you visited any secret or private gardens in London? Let me know which one in the comments below…