Fifteen new gardens open their gates for London’s annual Open Garden Squares Weekend

The weekend of June 13 & 14, 2009 will see the 11th Open Garden Squares Weekend in London. Visitors will have a rare opportunity to peer behind the walls of more than 170 of London’s private community gardens and squares ranging from historically important ones to traditional allotments through to contemporary and eco-friendly gardens. 

Among the new Gardens taking part in the annual event for the first time will be: 

  • The British Museum has collaborated with the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew to create an Indian-themed landscape on the Museum’s west lawn. 
  • A 13-year-old forest garden, Naturewise Edible Forest in Crouch End works to raise environmental awareness and helps people to move towards living more sustainably. [See illustration].
  • HMP Wandsworth has recently created a garden at Linden Lodge, the training school outside the prison. There are no restrictions on who can visit it.
  • The Walled Gardens and Herb Garden at Eastbury Manor in Barking are a hidden gem looked after by National Trust volunteers. 
  • The gardens of Gray's Inn are known as the Walks. It was Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) who laid them out in 1606 when he was Treasurer at Gray's Inn. 
  • Local residents, including schoolchildren, enjoy the community garden at the Tate Modern that was opened in 2006. 
  • King Henry's Walk Garden in Islington was once a derelict site that has been transformed by volunteers into a beautiful organic garden, providing an opportunity for local residents to grow their own vegetables, fruit and flowers 
  • The House of St Barnabas in Soho has been helping homeless people change their lives for over 160 years. The 18th-century building has a private chapel which forms two sides of a small, secluded courtyard garden [See illustration] 
  • Nestled on half an acre of land in Stoke Newington is a brand-new community garden in bloom, run by the London Wildlife Trust. East Reservoir Community Garden has mini-meadows and hidden vegetable patches. The site also has a sustainable eco-classroom with a living roof and solar panels while a secret bird hide overlooks the reservoir.
  • The Estorick Collection in Islington was formed during the 1950s, and is known internationally for its Futurist works, as well as Italian figurative painting and sculpture from 1895 to the 1950s [see illustration].
  • A delightful enclosed garden tucked away behind the Goring - a family-owned hotel in Belgravia.
  • University College London is the third-oldest university in England, having been founded in 1826. During the weekend, the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology will be open and the Student Drama Society will be giving an evening performance in the Front Quad.
  • Durand Gardens were neglected for many years until the residents bought them in the 1980s and since then, they have been kept as woodland gardens. 
  • The Creekside Centre is a purpose-built environmental centre, with a living brown roof. It is set in a highly diverse landscape at Deptford Creek, which is a haven for hundreds of fresh and salt-water plants and animals. River dipping sessions will take place during the weekend. [See illustration].
  • Emery Walker's House is one of a terrace of 17 Georgian houses overlooking the Thames at the west end of Hammersmith’s Upper Mall. It is the best-preserved Arts and Crafts interior in Britain [See Illustration].

Also among the participating gardens that are not usually open to the public are Kensington Roof Gardens; Lambeth Palace; Montagu Square in Marylebone; Royal College of Physicians’ Medicinal Garden near Regent’s Park; Branch Hill Allotments in Hampstead; Garden Barge Square near Tower Bridge; Stanley Crescent in Notting Hill and HM Prisons Holloway; Wandsworth and Wormwood Scrubs (please note that visits to the Prison gardens need to be booked in advance).

Several of the gardens will offer activities for children and there will also be a cycle route around Bloomsbury and Hackney, as well as an organized cycle ride. The Garden Museum will be holding a Lavender Festival with Downderry Nursery. The two day festival will see the Museum filled with lavender plants and products and the Garden Cafe will be selling lavender flavoured food! Renown lavender expert, Simon Charlesworth will sell a wide range of lavender plants from his National Collection and at 2pm each day will give a Masterclass and Workshop session.

One ticket allows entry to all venues over entire Weekend. Ticket prices will be £6.75 (including free postage) in advance and £8 if bought during the weekend. These can be bought from Advance ticket hotline 020 8347 3230 (Mon to Fri 9am to 6pm), which is provided by Capital Gardens as well as Britain and London Visitor Centre on Lower Regent Street, and from selected gardens during the weekend.