Woollon House

Docklands north of the Thames, Open Garden Squares Weekend

Tower Hamlets and Docklands may sound unlikely areas for beautiful gardens, but take a chance and journey east to explore the sites in the Docklands Area which are open during Open Garden Squares Weekend, 17 & 18 June! You won’t be disappointed – just check the Guidebook or the website to be sure which gardens are open on your chosen day.

Docklands south of the Thames in Open Garden Squares Weekend

The Docklands south of the Thames aren’t derelict! This historically important part of the Thames is home to some very imaginative conservation and regeneration projects – do venture south and east of the river and visit during Open Garden Squares Weekend.  There are some fascinating sites south of the Thames, in the former Surrey Commercial Docks and near Tower Bridge and they will be open during this weekend, 17 & 18 June! Check the Guidebook (if you already have a ticket) or the website to be sure which gardens are open on your chosen day.

The Fortnight Garden in late May

Yes, I know it is mid-June, but it is been busy! And for this post it was the three-week garden because I had been in Portugal – yes, wonderful! And there will be posts about Portugal on London Traveller. The garden in Suffolk hadn’t grown quite as much as I expected in my absence, but with the help of a kind neighbour it has come through the dry weather; nevertheless the weekend was spent watering and doing some gentle tidying.

Phoenix Gardens behind Centre Point

‘…The Phoenix Garden is the best-kept secret of London’s West End. Open daily, it provides a peaceful green retreat for local residents, workers and tourists all year round, and is a haven for a wide range of urban wildlife.

Created by local volunteers in 1984 on the site of a former car park, this is the last of the Covent Garden community gardens. The location can be challenging, yet the Phoenix Garden demonstrates what can be achieved with ingenuity upon a bedrock of West End rubble. Phoenix Gardens…’.

Phoenix GardenPhoenix GardenPhoenix Garden

Trees give shade but are also interesting – birch, elder, fruit trees – and a gingko biloba. 

This is a haven of quiet – somewhere to escape from Oxford Street and just sit quietly for a while, or perhaps read the book bought at nearby Foyles.

Phoenix Garden Phoenix Garden

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Phoenix GardenPhoenix Garden

The garden is in a Victorian part of London, as you can see from the date on the warehouse, and also backs on to the Church of St Giles in the Fields.

A pond attracts dragonflies and damselflies, and, I assume, frogs to eat the snails. And there are clever planting ideas for the very dry ‘rubble bed’, created when the new centre was built. Plant your old parsnips and carrots, let them flower, and you have tall heads resembling Queen Anne’s Lace! And what about Phacelia Campanularis, salvias, and lychnis (instead of knautia macedonica) for fast-draining, hot and dry beds?

Phoenix Garden pondDragonfly in Phoenix Garden

Phacelia Campanularis
Phacelia Campanularis
Salvia Microphylla
Salvia Microphylla
Flowering parsnip
Flowering parsnip

The garden opens officially on Monday 19 June, but you can preview during Open Garden Squares Weekend – do visit!

Brunel Museum

The Brunel Museum

The Brunel Museum will be open during Open Garden Squares Weekend, 17 & 18 June – do visit! The Museum is housed in the Engine House which was built by Sir Marc and his son Isambard Kingdom Brunel as part of the Thames Tunnel. The garden is on top of the Rotherhithe shaft and home to the cocktail bar, The Midnight Apothecary, whose cocktails use flavourings grown in the garden.

The Brunel Museum

The Tower or Rotherhithe Shaft was the original entrance to the Thames Tunnel, the first tunnel a river anywhere in the world. The Tunnel was built between 1825-43. The day the Tunnel opened 50,000 paid to walk under the Thames! The Tunnel was built to facilitate trade across the river, however, not as a tourist attraction. Today the shaft is used as a performance space and the garden on top of the shaft is home to the cocktail bar, The Midnight Apothecary, whose cocktails use flavourings grown in the garden or foraged locally.

Building the Thames Tunnel (https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Thames_Tunnel)
Building the Thames Tunnel (https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Thames_Tunnel)
The Brunel Museum
The top of the shaft leading down into the Thames Tunnel today

The Brunel MuseumThe Brunel Museum

The Brunel MuseumIsambard Kingdom Brunel’s work is humourously remembered in two benches at the Museum – the Hungerford Bridge (1845) and the Royal Albert Bridge in Saltash (1854). And don’t miss the striking seats and table behind the Museum, or the remains of the priming pump from the Surrey Docks.

The Hungerford Bridge seat at The Brunel Museum
The Hungerford Bridge seat at The Brunel Museum
The Royal Albert Bridge seat at The Brunel Museum
The Royal Albert Bridge seat at The Brunel Museum
Priming pump from the Surrey Docks (L), The Brunel Museum
Priming pump from the Surrey Docks (L), The Brunel Museum

The Royal Albert Bridge seat at The Brunel MuseumThe Brunel Museum

Winterton House off the Commercial Road

Winterton House is a ‘Hidden Gem’ in Open Garden Squares Weekend on 18 June 2017. This wonderful garden is tucked away behind a building that gives no hint of anything horticulturally special. But do visit! The photographs give you a taste of the garden where plants of all kinds and varieties are on show and there is also a small allottment area and speciality poultry and ducks.Winterton House

Canary Wharf Roof Garden

Wow! I love this garden in Canary Wharf!  Crossrail Place was designed by Foster & Partners and the Roof Garden opened in 2015. Since then the garden has developed into a peaceful, lush space filled with beautiful ferns, grasses and various flowering shrubs and perennials. The garden was designed by Gillespies
Crossrail Roof Garden at Canary WharfCrossrail Roof Garden at Canary WharfCrossrail Roof Garden at Canary WharfCrossrail Roof Garden at Canary Wharf

Crossrail Roof Garden at Canary Wharf

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The flowers – shrubs and perennials – are tucked in amongst the ferns and grasses; Japanese Anenomes, Bottlebrush, Geraniums, Hostas, Strawberry Tree and many others.
Crossrail Roof Garden at Canary WharfCrossrail Roof Garden at Canary WharfDo visit during between 16 -18 June – the RHS and Open Garden Squares offer lots to see and do!