Caroline Aldiss dreamt of a day when the gates of London’s private gardens would be flung open to the public with local communities and residents celebrating with fêtes, fairs, and good neighbourliness. What started tentatively in 1998 with 43 gardens has now become a permanent fixture on the summer calendar with over 120 participating green spaces across the city.
The then Collingham Gardens resident in Earl’s Court, west London recalls that it was hard work persuading garden committees to buy into the idea after all their natural disposition was to keep trespassers and prying eyes at bay. They were naturally cautious of the concept, though letters of support from Prince Charles and central London MPs Alan Clark (now deceased) and Peter Brooke, among others, helped to persuade them.
Once the project had gained acceptance, Aldiss enlisted the help of London Parks and Gardens Trust to continue organising the event. Today she continues to take an active interest in its development and conservation issues.
Derelict to Desirable
This beautiful garden in Lambeth’s Brockwell Park includes an orchard, demonstration gardens, walled herb garden and two commercial-sized greenhouses. Run by over 200 dedicated volunteers, it offers nature-based education activities for families and schools.
Rated ‘Outstanding’ in the 2018 RHS ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ scheme, this garden boasts ponds, a rose pergola, wildlife area and dry garden, as part of Islington’s climate change adaptation strategy. It is a resource for primary schools, community groups and locals.
Created by local volunteers in 1984, the last of the Covent Garden Community Gardens provides a peaceful green retreat for local residents, workers, tourists and urban wildlife. Formerly a car park, the garden’s bedrock of rubble has required a careful selection of plants!
This community garden provides therapy, training and volunteering opportunities for people with disabilities, mental health issues and long-term health conditions. The borders, herb and sensory area, vegetables, beehives, pond and greenhouse are all tended by beneficiaries and volunteers.
This mobile food garden is an exciting example of organic urban agriculture on one of Europe’s largest development sites at King’s Cross. Local children, young people and business volunteers work in partnership on tangible projects to improve local sustainability.
Reclaimed from derelict land in 1987, this organic garden is now an established charity, rated ‘Outstanding’ in the 2018 RHS ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ scheme. It boasts its own QCF-accredited school of horticulture, greenhouses, wildlife area, vegetable garden and fruit trees.
Open Garden Squares Weekend, 8 – 9 June 2019