This weekend over 200 secret gardens open up to Londoners; Sara O’Reilly has picked five gorgeous highlights of the Open Garden Squares Weekend.
1. The secret oasis: Roof Gardens
One hundred feet above Kensington High Street, on top of the former Derry & Toms building which once housed the Biba superstore, you’ll find these huge and super-glamorous gardens (pictured above). It remains a bit of a secret, even though it opened back in the 1930s, because you can’t see it from the street. These days it’s owned by Richard Branson and when it’s not closed for private functions, anyone’s welcome to pop up and take a gander at the flamingos that are lucky enough to call this lush spot home.
High St Kensington. Sun Jun 14, 8am-11am.
2. The hardy perennial: John Betts House
As Open Garden Squares Weekend has grown it has embraced venues that are less exclusive than the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century gardens for which only residents hold a key. But many newer additions such as this green haven tended by older gardeners – part of the Hammersmith United Charities’ Almshouses – are just as enticing. It’s not hard to see why it’s won several awards: the combined effect of leafy planting, raised vegetable beds and hanging baskets is magical.
Stamford Brook. Sat Jun 13, 2pm-7pm.
3. The vegetable patch in the sky: Arvon Road Allotment Group
The waiting lists for London allotments are crazy. With space at a premium, some veg growers have resorted to drastic solutions. In this allotment, the only way to get around the steep, terraced site is via precarious-looking ladders. But nothing stops a Londoner in pursuit of a good crop of self-grown vegetables. On Sunday, members of this Holloway group will temporarily down tools to show visitors around the top tier of their uniquely quirky patch.
Holloway Rd. Sun Jun 14, 2pm-5pm.
4. The ghost tube garden: Barbican Station Pop-up
Updating the proud tradition of lovingly tended railway station gardens, this disused Underground platform in the City now boasts its own burgeoning horti-haven. Itís very new and the plants have yet to achieve their full glory. Book a tour to get an early glimpse of the unusual planting. Itís meant to evoke the acceleration and braking of trains, apparently. Just be sure to mind the gap.
Barbican. Sat Jun 13 and Sun Jun 14, 11am-3pm.
5. The junkyard paradise: Skip Garden
An absence of green space is no deterrent to cultivating a community garden as demonstrated by this enterprising mobile allotment, which recently moved to a new home at the top of Lewis Cubitt Park in King’s Cross. Where you might expect to find discarded household junk, instead there will be a different sort of rich pickings. For Open Garden Squares Weekend, the Skip Garden Café will be open, there’ll be regular tours and there’s even a yurt to shelter in if it rains.
King’s Cross. Sat Jun 13 and Sun Jun 14, 10am-5pm.
Find out more about Open Garden Squares Weekend.