Open garden squares weekend: Top 10

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.

1.Cadogan Place Gardens
Cadogan Place garden

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

Inner Temple gardenYouthful, 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

Cleveland Square gardenBeautiful, 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?!).


Kensington Roof GardensJust 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

Edwardes Square gardenAt 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!

6. Courtfield Gardens (West)

Courtfield Gardens (West)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

Ennismore GardensI 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

Eaton Square gardenAn 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

Warwick Square gardenBorrowed 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

Ladbroke Square GardenOne 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!

18 thoughts on “Open garden squares weekend: Top 10

  1. Suzanne says:

    I visited a number of beautiful little squares when I stayed in London a few years ago. I have no idea which ones. Some were tiny and all were beautiful. I loved the way they just popped up when I rounded the corner; perfect green oases and just so…English. They oozed sense of place which, as a tourist, is exactly what I wanted. Your beautiful photos bring back happy memories. I would love to see/read more on the rooftop garden but any will do just fine thanks Janna.

  2. Catherine says:

    Sounds like you needed slightly fewer gardens and slightly more pubs! But which one would you want to live next to and access on a daily basis? Courtfield would be my pick.

    • jannaschreier says:

      Needed slightly fewer gardens? Are you mad, Catherine? But yes, I’m in it for the long run with Paul, so you are probably right! We did have an interlude in the pub to watch the Wallabies but, unfortunately, that didn’t exactly help matters. You are very perceptive: I think Courtfield is probably my choice, too.

  3. Barbara says:

    Ohhh Janna,
    It does bring back memories when I walked many London Squares 50 years ago, exactly 50!!!! As a visitor from gray Eastern Europe I was AMAZED at the spaces created for people living around those squares. Now they are sooo beautiful, more than they were half a century ago. Please write more about them.

    • jannaschreier says:

      Wow, happy anniversary, Barbara! It’s always a bit scary to be able to think back in quantities of decades. But lovely that you can remember it so clearly. The squares are so magical; I’m always amazed just how much they change the feel of a place. I think you are right too; whilst I don’t know what they were like 50 years ago, I’m quite sure there is more effort put into many today. Most of the residents on the gates showed real passion and pride about their spaces. It was lovely to see.

  4. Ingrid Unger says:

    Hi, Those gardens all look amazing and sooooo English. I would love to see more of the Cadogan Gardens. Your photos all look so enticing – love them all.

    • jannaschreier says:

      Thank you, Ingrid. There is a certain English look, isn’t there? I’ll definitely write up Cadogan Gardens in that case; I think it would definitely make my top five, so it’s a good one to do.

  5. Louise Dutton says:

    So many to choose from that I had to think about it overnight. So in no particular order I would be interested in Kensington rooftop, court field and cadogan gardens. I was just saying the other day to my daughter that I hadn’t seen a blog from you for a while and bingo one came! Each of the gardens look like they would have inspired and given you different feelings. Oh to walk amongst them……so many beautiful gardens to choose from!

    • jannaschreier says:

      You can imagine what a job I had filtering down from 20 and gosh, what a job I have to do reducing my hundreds of photos to something more sensible! But I’ll certainly write up those three you mention; it’s really helpful to have a guide to help me focus. They were all just amazing and you are right, each one did evoke particular emotions, which is such a fascinating aspect of garden design.

  6. Adriana Fraser says:

    I love these Janna – especially the colour combinations in the Temple Garden and Cleveland Square. I don’t know how you could even possibly do 20 garden in a weekend though – amazing! Please do more – yI get so many good ideas from those lovely ‘snapshot’ photos of yours.

    • jannaschreier says:

      I did 20, Paul did 12! Two of them were within a couple of minutes walk from home, so it’s amazing how much you can do. Everything is so close together in London (a good and a bad thing!). I’ve already got a growing list in my head of some of the ones I want to see next year! I’ll press on with writing up the details of the ones people have picked out, soon. Never enough hours in the day!

  7. rusty duck says:

    They all look so different and I guess that’s all part of the pleasure of it, a bit like my new found passion for NGS gardens down here. I’m looking forward to hearing more about the roof gardens though, just to see what they have managed to pull off. Is that the one with the flamingos or am I thinking of somewhere else?

    • jannaschreier says:

      Oh goodie, I am glad about your new found passion: hopefully we’ll all get to see lots of the best gardens of Devon. And yes indeed, the flamingos were just the most bizarre thing, but surprisingly tasteful, actually! I’m just in the process of culling my photos for that garden…which may take some time.

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