This year’s Open Garden Squares Weekend, when over 200 unique and private London gardens open to the public over the weekend of 18 and 19 June, will include a number of highly sought-after tours and walks as part of its offering this year.
For the first time ever the Weekend will include a one-off behind-the-scenes tour at Kew Gardens’ Tropical Nursery, a talk and walk with Professor Nigel Dunnett to his garden on the Barbican Estate and tours of the Coutts Skyline Garden.
Over 30 specialist walks have been revealed including those exploring the greening of London’s King’s Cross, Soho Stories, Green Rooftops in the City and Constable’s Hampstead. This year’s programme also includes a series of foreign language tours, including walks in Polish, Italian, French, Spanish and Russian.
All of the Weekend’s specialist tours and walks are free to book with the purchase of a Weekend ticket. The organisers, the London Parks and Gardens Trust, anticipate such high demand for some of these events that places will be allocated by ballot only – others will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. To book tickets, to find out more about all the specialist tours and walks, and for ballot entry details visit www.opensquares.org/activities/tours/html
Behind-the-scenes at Kew – a super exclusive tour of the Tropical Nursery – the hidden gem of Kew Gardens. This is where Kew holds its reserve scientific collections and cultivates plants for use in displays within the Palm, Temperate, Waterlily and Princess of Wales conservatories, including cacti, succulents and orchids. *Ballot allocation
Nigel Dunnett Talk and Tour of Beech Gardens – the challenges and triumphs of planting Beech gardens and the High Walk on the grade II-listed Barbican Estate. Professor Dunnett has been responsible for many large scale projects, including the London 2012 Olympic Park, The Diamond Garden at Buckingham Palace and the RBC Rain Garden at The London Wetland Centre. *Ballot allocation
Coutts Skyline Garden – explore a unique rooftop space, 30 metres above street level, and consisting of over 9,000 organic plants including vegetables, fruit, herbs and edible flowers.
Barbican Station Pop up Garden – the first community garden on the Underground, created on a 100-metre-long disused platform.
River Cafe Garden – explore the growing of a variety of Italian salad leaves, vegetables and herbs and how they make it onto the daily changing menus with gardener Simon Hewitt.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – created to host the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games – the transformation of this brownfield site included the decontamination of nearly 2 million tonnes of soil and the planting of the largest wildflower meadow ever planted in the UK.
Now in its nineteenth year, and with over 200 gardens taking place in 2016, Open Garden Squares Weekend allows visitors a unique opportunity to visit many of London’s most fascinating squares, gardens and green spaces – all with the purchase of a Weekend ticket. This year the gardens range from historic and traditional to new and experimental, and include roof gardens, community allotments, gardens in skips, on railway platforms and on the water.
Other highlights this year include the return of the poets-in-residence programme #RemixedBorders in collaboration with The Poetry School, and the option to join three different free group cycle rides, taking in gardens in either Bloomsbury, Regent’s Park and Hampstead, the City and east London or Kensington, Chelsea and south west London.
Many participating gardens will host their own programme of events including, pond-dipping, talks on aquaponics, bee-keeping and urban farming, Medieval soapball making, botanical art workshops, flower-pressing, seed planting and herb discovery walks.
Find out more by visiting www.opensquares.org. Tickets are priced £12 in advance (£14 over the weekend). Children under 12 go free.
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.”
Twitter: @OpenSquares #OGSW16
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.
Listings Information: Open Garden Squares Weekend: Saturday 18 and Sunday 18 June 2016. Over 200 private, unusual and little-known gardens and green spaces open to the public across 27 London boroughs for one weekend only. Organised by the London Parks and Gardens Trust to celebrate the capital’s unique urban, green space network. Includes an exciting programme of tours, walks, talks and cycle rides.
Weekend tickets: £12 in advance / £14 over the weekend. Under 12s go free
Visit www.opensquares.org to book and for more info. Follow on Twitter @OpenSquares