Allotments, hidden roof gardens and pop-up flowerbeds are among some 230 green spaces open to the public on June 17 and 18 as part of Open Garden Squares Weekend.
So if you’ve ever contemplated re-enacting that scene from ‘Notting Hill’ when Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts climb the fence into a locked garden square, good news: for one weekend only, you can get into those normally closed-off spaces in a legit way, without the risk of impaling yourself on a spiked fence.
Here are just some of the gardens worth checking out.
Barbican Wildlife Garden, EC2
This is one of three gardens for the residents of the Barbican Estate. There’ll be a poet in residence there over the weekend and plants for sale.
Barnsbury Wood, N1
The former garden of a local house, it’s now an untamed area. You might wonder how there can be woodland this central in London but it turns out it’s the city’s smallest nature reserve.
British Medical Association Council Garden, WC1
This tranquil feature was designed by architect Edward Lutyens within the BMA’s Bloomsbury headquarters. Appropriately enough, it’s planted with medicinal herbs.
The Castle Garden, N4
One of London’s lesser-known oddities, The Castle was not actually built as a fortification but as a Victorian water-pumping station. Today it’s a climbing centre with a café and its very own kitchen garden.
The Compound, Stave Hill Ecological Park, SE16
A park sitting on former Rotherhithe dockland, the Compound is all about promoting sustainability. There are family activities on offer here all weekend, including marsh digging (more fun than it sounds), and building insect houses.
Crossbones Memorial Garden, SE1
This temporary garden commemorates a site believed to have been used as a burial ground for Southwark prostitutes in past centuries. History tours are scheduled for Saturday June 17.
Crossrail Roof Garden, E14
An exotic greenhouse above Canary Wharf station, this space offers a programme of events beyond the Open Garden Squares Weekend, including occasional theatre performances.
Eversheds Sutherland Vegetable Garden, EC2
In a striking example of nominative determinism, law firm Eversheds has been planted with a roof garden. Look out for the beehives, as well as views of the surrounding City. Refreshments are on offer, too.
Fulham Palace Meadows Allotments, SW6
A site with Anglo-Saxon history, this working allotment is reportedly used by a whole cross-section of west London society, comprising some 400 plots. Expect plants for sale, as well as teas and coffees.
Garden Barge Square, off SE1
Here’s a rare example of a garden that doesn’t exist, well, on land. These moorings near Tower Bridge have existed for centuries, but have only recently been planted.
Highbury Stadium Square, N5
The home of Arsenal FC for almost 100 years, Highbury Stadium was converted into housing after 2006. The former pitch is now a minimalist garden. You’ll have to book a tour if you want to see this one.
Inner Temple Garden, EC4Y
The definition of urban oasis, this calm space in the heart of London’s legal-land dates back to the 1100s and is supposedly the site on which the War of the Roses began.
Skip Garden, N1
The Skip Garden might sound a bit rubbish, but it’s actually a treasured mobile educational facility which is now in its fourth home.
Tate Modern Community Garden, SE1
Affiliated with the great art gallery is a gated garden used by locals for growing fruit and herbs, with a wildlife pond as well. This one’s only open on Saturday afternoon.
Photography: Open Garden Squares Weekend (unless otherwise credited)