Last weekend, I joined my mum and Tony for what is slowly becoming an annual tradition for us (alongside the Discover Dogs show) – the Open Garden Squares Weekend in London. This is the third year in a row I have trekked across London’s many and varied hidden green spaces, and for the third time the weather has been distinctly un-June like. grey skies, gloom and spits of rain are not what the doctor ordered! However, it was very pretty, and I thought I’d share some photos of the day with you to encourage those among you with any horticultural interest to pay a visit next year!
Held every June over the Trooping the Colour Weekend, Open Garden Squares Weekend is a good value for money experience. You pay £12 for a weekend ticket on the door (or £10 in advance), and then you can visit any of the gardens across the weekend. There are dozens of them all across London, from inner to outer boroughs, and the guide book included with your ticket tells you a little bit about them all. It is also divided up into different areas so you can plan your visit by location or by specific gardens.
We mostly stuck to Bloomsbury in Central London, but our first stop was closer to my neck of the woods: the Jamyang Buddhist Centre. A peaceful little garden tucked away from the main roads on the site of the old Kennington Courthouse, you can still see some of the original architecture, such as bars on the window and the facade on the front entrance. The exercise yard has been converted into a little green space, complete with gleaming Buddha.
We stopped for lunch here courtesy of the Jamyang Cafe, and feasted on a veggie lunch of pea, asparagus and courgette risotto with three types of assorted salad. This included potatoes that I swear had been flavoured with lavender! So random, and it took some getting used to, but the risotto was pretty good.
I wasn’t planning to share this at all until I spent Sunday morning catching up with old schoolfriends, Helen and Zoe, over brunch in Brixton. We were talking about what we’d done with our weekends, and when I told them about the gardens I was a little embarassed, expecting them both to laugh at me for being so middle-aged. Shows what I know. They both then said they’d always meant to go too, and I knew I could relax! It’s one of the best things about having friends you’ve known for so long. Even with time apart following our own lives and interests, it seems we still have a great deal more in common when it comes down to it!
The two below are from a children’s nursery garden close to Great Ormond Street Hospital. It is like a little paradise – if I had gone to this nursery as a girl that would have been my life made! I mean, what other playgrounds have hamocks and wigwams on hand to help fuel your imagination and take you on exotic adventures?
I love discovering hidden parts of London, and I particularly enjoy the Open Garden Squares Weekend because it allows you to be nosy and explore those parts of London you wouldn’t normally have access to. There is also something about all these gardens that is so peaceful. I could have happily curled up with a picnic blanket and a book in any of them and whiled away an afternoon enjoying the sort of peace and tranquility you’d be hard pushed to find anywhere else in London.
I couldn’t resist a little bathroom selfie, in what must be one of the brightest and leafiest bathrooms I’ve ever been to! This was at the October Gallery, home to the little courtyard with the scarlet bench and window frames above. It was one of my favourites of the afternoon, and I loved that they had managed to create a little haven, despite being surrounded by office buildings on all sides.
Have you ever been to the Open Garden Squares Weekend? What were you favourite gardens?