Tales of a City Girl

Open Garden Squares Weekend – discover London’s hidden gardens

Do London’s free parks make you feel a bit of a peasant? I know, me too. Nothing like the embarrassment of trying to ascertain your own square of grass next to a million others, humiliated in the knowledge none of you have actually paid to be there.

But don’t worry. For one weekend only a year, you too can enjoy the secret, private gardens of London normally not reserved for the likes of you.

This year, myself and my Mum decided to go to the luscious gardens of West London, focusing on Notting Hill Gate and Holland Park. There are gardens open all over London however, so you can pick those that capture your fancy, although it’s best to zone in on a particular area that, if not walkable, is at least a short bus or tube journey away.

The gardens themselves are, if not all traditionally beautiful, all have their own narrative and their own charm. They are manned by very earnest gardener types, who may be enticing you to smell a rose bush in one garden, or talking through the history and literary significance of a particular old tree in another.  Take the chance to read or print out the blurb that comes with each garden  to dig in that extra bit further.

The website also includes suggested walking routes to help you map your day, which are probably downloadable to your phone. I can’t be sure though,my Mum’s phone is from Tesco and Snake is probably a step too far into technological wizardry for it, so we printed out a map route.

Coffee and cake is a regular occurrence in many of the gardens as well. No Mr Kipling fob-offs here either, this is the real homemade shebang, with coffees a third of the price of your average Starbucks/Pret fare.

Research  your gardens right and you may even get a glass of wine, or a Pimms, served to you by a man from an estate agent while a pre-teen in a garish designer Ralph Lauren T-shirt checked your tickets. Maybe that was just in the garden we went to.

Some gardens also offer up entertainment. Classical entertainment of course, though. Think cello on the lawn, that sort of thing. Although looking at the website, it looks like one garden was offering 3 legged races, which I’d recommend avoiding at all costs.

If gardens are your thing (for me, they are), the Open Garden Squares Weekend is a great way to while away a sunny June afternoon.

Open Garden Squares Weekend happens one weekend in June a year. Tickets this year were £10 in advance.