If you’ve ever wandered past one of Chelsea’s lush gated gardens and longed to be on the other side of the fence, you’re in for a treat with this year’s Open Garden Squares Weekend, which promises an insider look at the neighbourhood’s stunning gardens with a live sets from a jazz trio and snacks from Jumeirah Carlton Tower at Cadogan Place Gardens topping the weekend’s highlights.
The Jonny Mansfield Trio, the vibes trio based in London, will be playing four sets on both Saturday and Sunday, with Jonny Mansfield on vibraphone, Will Sachon bass and Luca Caruso drums. They recently performed their debut gig at the Vortex Jazz Club and are currently working on material for their debut release and European tour in Spring 2019. Between the trio they have played with legends such as Chris Potter, Geoff Simkins and Joe Sanders.
Set in the middle of Sloane Street,Cadogan Place Gardens was laid out and developed by Henry Holland from 1777, and today the gardens are oases of green amidst the bustling luxury retail stores and historic architecture. They are usually reserved for the use of the very lucky key-holding residents, which previously included slave trade abolitionist William Wilberforce (1759-1833), who lived at 44 Cadogan Place.
The north garden was originally created by Humphry Repton in 1806, the garden was an important military site in WW2, when the railings were removed to donate to the war effort. In 1939, part of the garden was requisitioned by the Air Ministry for a barrage balloon. In May 1942 it was wholly taken over by the War Office and the ground was used to dig in tanks, station anti-aircraft guns and as a camp for troops.
In the 1970s the garden was re-landscaped and an underground car park was built beneath it, making it one of London’s most exclusive roof gardens.
The south garden was originally known as the London Botanic Gardens. The mulberry trees on the lawn are said to be around 300 years old and thought perhaps to have been grown for the silk trade. They are however black mulberry, which is less preferred by the silkworm. Nevertheless, the fruit is delicious and the trees beautiful.
On the east side, a walk running the length of the garden has been developed for spring interest, along with a fern garden and mini-stumpery.
On the east side, a walk running the length of the garden is being developed for spring interest, along with a fern garden and mini-stumpery. Near the tennis courts, a water garden is screened by black bamboo and willows, while to the centre of the garden is the award-winning Hans Sloane Garden, adapted from a design for the 2003 Chelsea Flower Show to celebrate the life of physician and collector Sir Hans Sloane.
There are several other notable gardens in the neighbourhood worth exploring, our pick of these is below (with a handy map viewable here), while a complete list of all the London gardens open on the weekend is available on the Open Garden Squares Weekend list. To buy tickets for the event please click here.