What better way to experience London than by visiting its garden squares? But most of these spaces are private and not open to the public. Ah, if only one could gain access to these magical places, what a wealth of culture, history and romance would suddenly be accessible to London residents and visitors alike.
Well, thanks to the London Parks & Gardens Trust, you can. For one weekend in June, London throws open its most lovely, fragrant, intimate and historic outside spaces for any one to enjoy. And it’s a great bargain. For 10 pounds a head, you gain access to more than 200 green spaces over the course of 48 hours. Today, we managed to visit 9.
Highlights for us included the three-acre Edwardes Square, that was built between 1811 and 1819 by a Frenchman rumored to be an agent of Napoleon. This oasis of calm between High Street Kensington and Earls Court has meandering paths, a croquet lawn, a rose pergola, and grass tennis court. The full time gardener still lives in the Grecian-style lodge at the entrance.
We also loved visiting the beautiful and serene Islamic garden on the roof of the Ismaili Centre in South Kensington. It’s a little bit of the Alhambra right in the centre of London. And we learned a lot about the Ismailis as well.
In all of the nine gardens we saw today, we were generously welcomed by volunteers who are rightly proud of what they have cherished and preserved. For anyone who loves gardens and loves London, the Open Square Weekend is unmissable so start planning now. Next year’s Open Garden Squares Weekend is 9-10 June 2012. More information available on www.opensquares.org.