Get set for Open Garden Squares Weekend
by Rhiannon James
The Skip Garden, King's Cross, N1C 4TB
A host of London’s community gardens and squares, including a floating garden built on barges and a mobile allotment planted in skips, will be throwing open their gates to visitors this week.
Open Garden Squares Weekend, which will involve more than 200 gardens across the capital this year including Garden Barge Square and The Skip Garden, is an opportunity to sneak a peek into the city’s secret garden squares and to see the work of community gardening projects, many of which are not normally open to the public.
Along with perennial favourites such as the Middle Temple and Inner Temple gardens and Notting Hill’s private garden squares, more than thirty gardens will be taking part in the event for the first time this year. Many of these are edible gardens which have been created with assistance from Capital Growth, the campaign to support 2,012 new community food-growing spaces by the end of 2012. There’s St Quintin Avenue Community Kitchen Garden in Ladbroke Grove, an attractive food-growing space created on the site of a disused tennis court and the nearby Portland Road Community Kitchen Garden which has unusual edibles from all over the world.
There’s also Food From The Sky, a food-growing and educational project on the roof of a supermarket in Crouch End and the Alara Permaculture Forest Garden in Kings Cross where a strip of land between a factory and a railway line has been transformed into an edible garden complete with beehives, chickens and a wormery.
Also opening for the first time this year is a garden in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, which is tended by veterans with help from Gardening Leave, a charity which offers horticultural therapy to ex-Service personnel along with the North Row Buildings garden in Westminster, which includes some interesting outdoor structures created especially for the site.
To help visitors to find their way around the different gardens as easily as possible, the London Parks and Gardens Trust, which organises the event, has created a number of self-guided walking and cycling tours for different areas of the capital. There are also two guided cycling tours, one starting at Kensington Gardens at 10am on Saturday and another beginning at 10am at Covent Garden Piazza on Sunday. Booking is not required and the tours are free with an Open Garden Squares Weekend Ticket.
Open Garden Squares Weekend runs from Saturday 11th to Sunday 12th June.
One ticket covers entry to all gardens across the weekend and can be bought for £10 from the Britain and London Visitor Centre and selected participating gardens. Children under 12 do not need a ticket.
More information about the event can be found at www.opensquares.org. It’s worth trying the garden selector on the site where you can look for gardens that are new this year, as well as searching by location, opening time and a host of other factors.
Garden Barge Square at Downings Roads Moorings (SE1 2AX) is open Saturday 2pm to 5 pm and Sunday 2pm to 5pm
The Skip Garden (N1C 4TB) is open Saturday 10am to 5pm
St Quintin Avenue Community Kitchen Garden (W10 6NX) is open Saturday 10am to 5pm and Sunday 10am to 5pm
Food From The Sky (N8 8DU) is open Sunday 11am to 5pm
Alara Permaculture Forest Garden (NW1 0PF) is open Saturday 10am to 4pm and Sunday 10am to 4pm
Gardening Leave, Royal Hospital Chelsea (SW3 4SR) is open on Saturday 10am to 5pm and Sunday 10am to 4pm
North Row Buildings (W1K 7DG) is open Saturday 10am to 5pm and Sunday 2pm to 5pm
The Compound in Stave Hill Ecological Park (SE16 6AX) is open Saturday 10am to 4pm and Sunday 10am to 4pm