London Open Squares Weekend June 2012

For Open Gardens 2011 (see here), it was part beautiful sunshine (Saturday, spent around Bloomsbury) and part rain, rain and more rain (Sunday, spent around Hampstead).  This year the weather forecast predicted the same, but alas, we were spared and only a drop of rain did we feel all weekend.  Commence lots of hazy sun lounging on Saturday afternoon.  “Just 5 more minutes [sitting here on this lovely warm bench]” was my tagline.

Saturday: around Holland Park and Earls Court

Sunday: cycling via the Chelsea Physic Garden (one of my favourite central London gardens) to Chiswick.

We took in a three course dinner and wine on the Friday night and bacon sarnies on Saturday morning.  Fuel for cycling around London for a weekend….

Lexham Gardens (above)

Saturday (0900 – 1800)

  • Cornwall Gardens (a damp, unattended squib that needs a good tidy up);
  • Lexham Gardens (impressive – they’ve taken a garden square and divided it into water gardens, rose garden, play area, entrance pagoda – a lesson to take away);
  • Sunningdale Gardens (if I could convince D to move to London, apparently a house in this enclosed street end with houses facing each other and a cat would meet that “I could live here” test);
  • Leighton House (the gardens need something doing to them – even the bedding plants were dying and the rest is just a lawn and green borders; after the spectacular of the house the gardens disappoint);
  • Nevern Square (we had tea and coffee here and cake and chatted to the National Trust – apparently now the garden has lost its most recent fox they’d quite like a garden hedgehog);
  • Earls Court Square (we watched a crazy dog chase a ball for 30 minutes sold and admired their special dropping beech tree);
  • Bina East Gardens (we had been before but D didn’t mind, picking up two £1 plants – hence why I find writing this diary so useful – tucked away in the centre of a Victoria block);
  • Hans Place (not officially on the plan but the gate was open so we pushed our bikes around);
  • Cadogan Square Gardens (I’ve forgotten this one…eek – it was getting on in the day);
  • Cadogan Place Gardens (we’d just missed the music, they were selling PIMs on the lawn, the long borders were lovely; the beauties of Chelsea were a-lounging; the children clambering on the play area, the tennis court being put to good use; if only they hadn’t tarmacked their paths).

Bina East Gardens (above)

The chocolate shop

 Nervern Sq?

Leighton House (above and below)

Sunningdale Gardens
Earls Court Sq

Sunday (0845 – 1630) – some special gardens/houses deserving of their own entries

  • Chelsea Physic Garden (only open 0900-1130, after which they charge their full admission price – a must see and as of May 2012 approx. a quarter has been redeveloped to make sensory and useful food gardens – D was drooling: “I haven’t seen a lot of these plants before”.  I’m left with the mission of  tracking down a Ballota Hirsuta to buy – a furry type of catmint);
  • Cycle via Shepard Bush to Chiswick;
  • Hogarth’s House (enjoy the 5 seconds when the lights change before the hum of the A4 running past starts up again; old mulberry tree but an ivy problem);
  • Chiswick House Walled Garden (and Chiswick Park, a bit of drooling over Chiswick House – the walled garden’s new hive had lost its Queen Bee a week ago and the bees were swarming on a fruit tree);
  • Emery Walker House (tiny garden of a Georgian house (usual tour entry £10) lived in by William Morris’ friend – the fronts are now the backs – lots of original Morris interiors but the garden could do with being cleared and starting again) – there is a good pub next door for a break;
  • Sutton Court (on the way back to the train station and home to a beekeeper who had obviously prepared his talk well but wasn’t brave enough to avoid reading verbatim from his notes – the gardens need a bulldozer taking to them and they should visit Lexham Gardens to see what a stunner they could have).

And that was us for 2012 Open Gardens.  Leaves me wanting to move to a SW* post code to enjoy a Garden Square until I remind myself I’d probably never meet/greet half my neighbours as they dash from door to Chelsea Tractor or fly in for the day.  Oh, and the amount of stamp duty I’d have to pay to buy a house there…

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