It would be fair to say it was a good garden-visiting weekend. I think twenty gardens over two days may well be a record, even for me. It’s certainly got me well and truly re-immersed in the possibilities and opportunities of English gardening.
I’ve managed to filter down to my top ten. Here, in the order that I visited.
Beautiful, floriferous colour schemes, wild flower meadows, the most stunning roses I’ve seen since I’ve been back in London and the most gorgeous insect hotel ever, Cadogan Place gardens were quite out of this world.
2. Inner Temple Garden
Youthful, hardworking, head gardener Andrea Brunsendorf is quite an inspiration. Inner Temple’s High Border (above) is one of many stunning plantings at the former site of what is now known as the Chelsea Flower Show. More formal areas contrast with naturalised meadow plantings; this Inn of Court, dating back to twelfth century, really does have it all.
3. Cleveland square
Beautiful, sun-loving beds complement the shady, woodland areas at Cleveland Square, where a TV crew approached us for an interview on the vast expanse of lawn. It wasn’t hard to see why they chose this garden to film from and delights such as rambling roses woven through fruit trees were just one of the surprises in store (what is that red-flowering tree over there?!).
Just around the corner from our flat, I thought I’d better see these famous gardens, perched some 30 metres above street level. At first I thought, “nice enough”, but picked fault with a rather overly-manufactured rill with brash Begonia edging. But, oh, how my opinion changed, as I further explored this astonishing 1.5 acre plot…the Spanish Garden, Tudor Garden and most remarkable of all, the English Woodland Garden. I was literally gobsmacked by the end. (The featured image at the very top was also taken here.)
5. Edwardes square
At the entrance to this square stood a beautiful, though clearly highly-functioning, brick and glass greenhouse, anchored by planting along every side. True gardeners work here and they have created the most incredible space for their residents. It was wonderful to see a grass tennis court (in immaculate condition), romantic archways of roses, curving grass pathways mown through meadow areas and the most delightful pots lining the main entrance. Pure delight!
Another garden clearly loved by its residents, Courtfield Gardens (West) has had an enormous facelift over the past ten years. You could feel the love and care put into it, with immaculate borders, stunning planting and this relatively new Wildlife Garden, which has brought a noticeable increase in birdlife. I’ve already looked at houses for sale on this square, it is just divine!
7. ennismore gardens
I confess that I may have looked up houses on this square, too. The stunning architecture hugs enormous plane trees and the most tasteful plantings imaginable, with different colour schemes segregated by effortlessly-placed evergreens. Ennismore Gardens almost feels too perfect; just serene, peaceful and beautifully maintained.
8. Eaton Square GArden
An agricultural garden during the Second World War, Neville Chamberlain, Vivian Leigh and Sean Connery are all Eaton Square residents who have enjoyed this space. Now one of the more formal garden squares, this was David Harber’s pick for a display of his exquisite sculptural artwork this weekend. With a traditional band playing, Punch and Judy shows for the kids and tea and cake on the lawn, it took you back many, many years.
9. Warwick Square
Borrowed landscapes are an important part of many London Squares, but this one was hard to beat. Warwick Square is bursting with colour, abundantly-planted beds and mature trees and shrubs which make it a standout for its established feel. Even the tennis court is beautiful, with deep herbaceous borders around its perimeter, drawing you in.
10. Ladbroke Square Garden
One of the largest London squares and with a Grade 2 listing, Ladbroke Square Garden has a bit of everything. I loved this New Zealand section with flowering Phormium and purple-hued Hebe. The full herbaceous borders, planted with large clumps of bold foliage were in contrast to many other gardens, which were lighter and airier. A bit of a whistle stop tour as Paul had lost the will to live by this time, but one that may require second visit!
I’ll start to write up some of these gardens in more detail…do let me know where I should start. It’s almost inevitable I won’t get to all ten so let me know which you’d most like to see!