Tickets have gone on sale for this year’s Open Garden Squares Weekend on 18 and 19 June, a highly anticipated event in the capital’s cultural calendar. With 211 gardens taking part in 2016, a single ticket allows visitors a unique opportunity to discover and explore some of London’s most fascinating squares, gardens and green spaces, most of which are not normally open to the public.
From the innovative, historical and prestigious, to the secret, hidden and little known. Gardens this year include many of London’s most exclusive private squares, some of the city’s most magnificent roof-top gardens, as well as gardens on barges, indoor flower installations, pop-up orchards and diminutive secret spaces tucked behind the hustle and bustle of London’s busy streets.
Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, president of the London Parks & Gardens Trust, organisers of the event, said: “Open Garden Squares Weekend is a unique and vibrant annual event, offering people a chance to visit, explore and learn about the capital’s exciting and diverse green spaces. Now in its 19th year the weekend is much broader than the ‘Open Garden Squares’ title suggests and offers visitors unrivalled access to some of London’s most exciting floating and rooftop gardens, allotments, transformed brownfield sites, urban wildlife and ecology centres as well as new, experimental gardens.”
19 new gardens join in 2016, including:
‘City Garden’ at the City Centre (EC2R 5AR) – a site specific installation by artist Rebecca Louise Law using natural materials inspired by gardens within the City of London – a micro-theatre of London’s natural world. Flowers entwined with copper wire are suspended above head height where they can be closely observed as they dry and preserve. Law has worked all over the world including Japan and America, and has made installations for fashion brands like Hermes, Gucci and Jimmy Choo, for whom she suspended 6,000 English country flowers from the ceiling of the main greenhouse at Clifton Nurseries.
Coutts Skyline Garden (WC2R 0QS), the brainchild of executive chef Peter Fiori and cleverly installed by the late Richard Vine with the help of the Clink charity based at HMP High Down, lies on each side of a narrow walkway around the roof of the building. There are four areas: the south-facing fruit garden, Vine Lane, a tribute to the late Richard Vine, a kitchen garden and a cottage garden.
Crossbones Memorial Garden (SE1 1TA), known as the single women’s burial ground, as many of the Bishop of Winchester’s ‘geese’ are buried here, women who worked as prostitutes under licence from the Bishop of Winchester. The highlight of the garden is its stunning ‘goosewing’ entrance way, designed and built by artist Arthur de Mowbray. The layout of the beds and planting was established by landscape architect Helen John, co-designed with the community. Plants with red, white and deep-purple flowers and distinctive foliage burst through the existing broken ‘strip’ (the original archaeological trench dug in the 1990s) representing the lives and energies of the people buried there.
Ticket information: one ticket gains access to all gardens (excluding those with special conditions for entry) for both Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 June. Advance tickets are priced £12 and available from www.opensquares.org. A ticket bought over the weekend is priced £14. Children under 12 go free.