(Click on a garden name for further information. Click on a photo to
OGSW 2018 brought perfect sunny weather to
be out and about in London, and I was excited
to get the opportunity to see two tiny,
charming gardens on the river right in the centre
of town. I had always wondered what was
behind the ancient houses in the middle of all
the modern buildings of Bankside; and along
with many other visitors I ventured down a
narrow alley to find the
harmonious garden with a view of the top of
the Tate Modern, scented philadelphus, and the
sound of trickling water to muffle the city
On the other side of the alley a low
doorway led to a creatively planted garden,
49 Bankside with another surprisingly large
water feature and the biggest star jasmine I've
ever seen, wonderfully fragrant, scrambling up
high. There is a very large planter halfway up
one wall that must need an acrobatic gardener to
From here, via the Jubilee line and DLR, I went
to a very different waterside enterprise at
Cody Dock. This is an interesting, family-
friendly regeneration project where links with
the Royal Horticultural Society helped to make
wildflower habitats, herb garden, tiny
greenhouses and raised beds for vegetables.
There is also a rather cool
outdoor classroom with a fire pit, where you
can imagine kids enjoying themselves in this
Via the useful Ginger line, I visited
Bowes Park, a neighbourhood community garden
in north London, where there was a summer
party in full swing. There were plant and cake
stalls, and trees for kids to climb. This is
evidently a much-loved space, and very popular
Heading back into central London, I went to
two gardens in King's Cross.
Victoria Hall - The institute of Ismaili
Studies has a restful pool and rill, with a
carefully limited range of plants in a beautifully
tiled roof garden on the 8th floor. On the first floor
is a Garden of Reflection, with a larger pool and
multi-stemmed Japanese cherry trees.
'wild north' of King's Cross, so much of which is
still being built, this is something of a sanctuary.
Nearby, the latest incarnation of the
Skip Garden has a marvellously eccentric
recycled house that serves as a cold greenhouse
for less hardy plants. The skips have fruit trees,
herbs, soft fruit and plenty of flowers
everywhere. There is an ongoing programme of
activities for local families.
In the evening I had a welcome Maltese beer at a
musical evening at the
Museum of the Order
of St John, in a courtyard garden planted
with medicinal herbs and fragrant roses. The
plants reflect the origins of the ancient Order,
caring for sick pilgrims in Jerusalem.
On Sunday I cycled into the City to marvel at
the enormous old plane tree, dating from 1837,
which totally dominates the interesting historical
the Stationers' Company Garden.
It was good to talk shade plants with the
gardener, as this is a common topic among
London gardeners! This garden was very
popular with many visitors for OGSW.
There is a cycleway part of the way to
Cable Street Community Gardens. The site has
thrived since I was last there a few years ago,
and it has a friendly atmosphere, with
plotholders from many different backgrounds.
When you walk around this prolifically
flowering site, it is noticeable how many birds
and insects there are. With an adjacent railway
line, flats and views of the city skyline, it is still
quite easy in this very urban garden to become
immersed in the world of plants and flowers.
Back on the Ginger Line, I headed to
Peckham, to see
the Orozco Garden. This
beautiful construction is behind the South
London Gallery, and is almost a cross between
a sculpture and a garden. I was very impressed
with the planting, which was supported by
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Tough plants,
which will stand up to dry conditions, have
been chosen, and some, like Mexican daisies,
I cycled downhill to
Glengall Wharf Garden, which is tucked away in a
corner of Burgess Park. I was invited to sample
strawberries and a walk around revealed wild
areas, raised vegetable beds, bees and chickens.
It has a flock of resident sparrows and an
apricot tree, laden with fruit. There is a
programme of courses where people can learn
about different gardening techniques.
Finally I headed across town to three large
private gardens in Maida Vale, which have
opened for OGSW for many years now.
The Triangle Garden is immaculately maintained,
with velvety green lawns, shady borders with
roses and topiary, and is very relaxing and
peaceful to sit in. It is amazing how blissfully
quiet these large private gardens are.
The Crescent Garden is enormous! Having such
a large site provides opportunity to plant
interesting trees and these included swamp
cypress, liquidambar, and several different
types of flowering cherry. The garden also has
plenty of space for children to play and as you
meander around the scent of honeysuckle, mock
orange and roses fill the air.
The Formosa Garden features many pollarded plane trees
in a formation which, when viewing them from
the entrance path, reminded me of an ancient
temple. This is another very restful garden in
which to spend some time. Any noise you do
hear is from goldfinches and wheeling swifts.
This year's OGSW has been a very welcome
event after the seemingly never-ending winter.
Visiting gardens this summer, it seems that
many plants have even thrived after the
prolonged cold spell, especially roses. And all
the different kinds of gardens that you can visit
during OGSW show that Londoners are
fortunate to enjoy numerous green spaces all
over the city, recreational places where children
and adults alike can enjoy and learn about the