This month, as part of the National Open Garden Scheme, Cadogan Place South Garden is opening its gates to visitors on Saturday, May 22, 10 am – 4 pm.
Usually only accessible to the lucky residential key-holders and guests at neighbouring hotels, Cadogan Place South Garden is one of London’s most historic gardens and was originally known as the London Botanic Gardens, incorporating a school and library.
In 1777, the eponymous square surrounding the garden was the first site to be developed by Henry Holland, architect to the Georgian aristocracy, for Hans Town on 89 acres of open field and marsh leased from the Cadogan family.
The black mulberry trees on the lawn are said to be around 300 years old and are thought perhaps to have been grown for the silk trade. Alas, they were the wrong variety of mulberry but are beautiful, nonetheless.
On the east side, a walk running the length of the garden is in full spring bloom and, near the tennis courts, black bamboo and willows screen a calming water garden. The award-winning Hans Sloane Garden, adapted from a 2003 Chelsea Flower Show design to celebrate the life of physician and collector Sir Hans Sloane, can be found at the centre of the garden.
Be sure to find the mature magnolia soulangiana under-planted with bluebells and hyacinths at the south end of the garden.
There will be homemade teas available, or you could head to the artisan food stores on Pavilion Road for picnic essentials and enjoy an afternoon in the surrounds of this special place.
If you’re passing the North Garden on your way, keep an eye out for some remarkable and unlikely visitors. In the heart of Cadogan Place North Garden, a group of life-size elephant sculptures will be taking up residence, part of a 50-strong herd that will be roaming the wilds of Chelsea until June 6, 2021.
Each member of the herd is modelled on a real wild elephant that roams the Nilgiri Hills of Southern India, which are covered mostly by towns, tea and coffee plantations and patches of forest.
The elephants are sustainably made by a team of Adivasi artisans from Tamil Nadu from dried lantana camara stalks, an invasive flowering weed native to South America that was introduced to India by British tea planters as a decorative plant in the 1800s. It now chokes 30% of India’s already limited protected reserves, severely damaging the forest ecosystem.
Other members of the herd can be found on Duke of York Square and the King’s Road, raising awareness and funds for CoExistence, an initiative from charity Elephant Family that hopes to highlight the struggle of India’s wild elephants, who coexist alongside communities and populations that are denser than anywhere else in the world.
Click here for more details on CoExistence and to make a donation to the cause.
The admission fee to visit Cadogan Place South Garden is £5 for adults and free for children, who will love the playground and exploring the ‘Bug Hotel’. Advance pre-booking is optional.
Cadogan Place South Garden, London, SW1X 9RX