Many of London’s gated and private gardens will be open to the public this month, allowing access to lush spaces that are usually held under lock and key, which means that on the weekend of 17-18 June you can indulge your curiosity and take a wander around Sloane Street’s stunning Cadogan Place Gardens during Open Garden Squares Weekend.
Set in the middle of Sloane Street, which was laid out and developed by Henry Holland from 1777, the gardens are oases of green amidst the bustling luxury retail stores and historic architecture and are usually reserved for the use of the very lucky residents, which 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. 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 when 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 silk worm. 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. Look out throughout the garden for large old Cyclamen hederifolium corms, some as big as dinner plates. And near the centre of the garden you’ll find the award-winning Hans Sloane Garden, adapted from a design for the 2003 Chelsea Flower Show to celebrate the life of the physician and collector Sir Hans Sloane, who died in 1753. His daughter, Elizabeth, married the 1st Earl Cadogan.
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.