Welcome to an even greener Open Garden Squares Weekend: reducing our environmental footprint for 2019

Collingham Gardens
Collingham Gardens © Diana Jarvis

With over 130 gardens and green spaces due to open across London on 8-9 June 2019, we are proud to announce a renewed commitment to reducing our environmental impact and creating a greener and more sustainable Open Garden Squares Weekend.

The London Parks and Gardens Trust aims to cultivate, celebrate and champion London’s green spaces, and one of the most important ways in which we can achieve these three goals is by ensuring that we tread carefully through our natural environment, and leave it richer than when we came.

Read on to find out more about some of the ecological initiatives we have in place for 2019’s Open Garden Squares Weekend. Don’t forget – limited numbers of tickets are still available at Christmas sale prices until 26 December, and you can buy yours online now.

Sustainable printing 

Alara Permaculture Forest Garden © Anna Barclay 11
Alara Permaculture Forest Garden © Anna Barclay

For the first time, our Open Garden Squares Weekend Guidebook will be printed on 100% recycled paper, using vegetable-based inks and a water-based protective coating. 

We are also proud to announce that we will no longer be using PVC banners. PVC is one of the most toxic plastics during its manufacture and use, and cannot be recycled – nor is it biodegradable in landfill.

Instead, in 2019 our banners will be printed on 100% recyclable high-density polyethylene, or HDPE (the material used to make plastic milk bottles). HDPE is environmentally stable and gives off no harmful fumes, and recycling it is particularly valuable as it can be cheaper to make a product from recycled HDPE than to manufacture virgin plastic. HDPE can be recycled kerbside or by return to our banner print contractors, who have also supplied GreenPeace and Friends of the Earth.

Both our print contractors – Belmont Press for the guidebook and Greenhouse Graphics (GHG) for the banners – are located in south-east England, reducing the carbon footprint of our printing in terms of delivery miles. Both take their environmental credentials very seriously, recycling all waste products and using photovoltaic solar panels to produce renewable energy, amongst a host of other initiatives.

Ruth Holmes, Chair of the London Parks and Gardens Trust, commented: “The London Parks and Gardens Trust is all about the amazing and diverse green spaces in the capital, helping cultivate a love for them and championing how great they are for our health and wellbeing. Now we can celebrate parks, gardens and community spaces at Open Garden Squares Weekend with a reduced environmental impact, through our more sustainable guidebooks and materials.”

Event management 

Eversheds Sutherland Vegetable Garden © Diana Jarvis 5476
Eversheds Sutherland Vegetable Garden © Diana Jarvis

An event on the scale of Open Garden Squares Weekend can create a mountain of waste –  not only paper, which can be recycled, but also single use plastics in the form of food and drink containers. These containers are often difficult or impossible to recycle, and so end up in landfill.

This year we are encouraging all gardens and refreshment providers to use biodegradable or recyclable cups, plates and cutlery. Using compostable tableware in conjunction with gardens’ own composting facilities will significantly reduce the waste generated by refreshments facilities, but we are also encouraging gardens to install recycle bins for the duration of the event.


Although the vast majority of visitors use public transport to move between events over the weekend, we are also keen to encourage visitors to walk wherever possible, and to this end we are creating some short walking routes around groups of gardens so that the only transportation required is your own two feet. Watch out for these walks in your guidebook.

Museum of the Order of St John  © Anna Barclay 24.jpg
Museum of the Order of St John © Anna Barclay

Director of the London Parks and Gardens Trust Helen Monger said: “We want to cultivate appreciation of parks, squares, community gardens, cemeteries and churchyards as part of London’s rich green infrastructure. We believe these spaces play a vital part in the wellbeing of Londoners. This year we have taken a look at ourselves and at how we can do better to reduce our impact when celebrating these amazing spaces through Open Garden Squares Weekend.  I am delighted that we will be delivering an ecologically improved event.”

We are very much looking forward to welcoming you to Open Garden Squares Weekend 2019, and we hope that these steps towards a greener and more sustainable event will help you enjoy the weekend all the more.


Looking for an original Christmas present? We have the answer!

The London Parks and Gardens Trust wish you a very happy run-up to the festive season this year. With Black Friday upon us, we have three Christmas gift ideas to save you from negotiating either crowded pavements or crowded websites:

Reduced price tickets for Open Garden Squares Weekend 2019

Leinster Square
Leinster Square Gardens © Diana Jarvis

A limited number of discounted tickets to the next Open Garden Squares Weekend (8 and 9 June 2019) are now on sale, until 11pm on Boxing Day (or earlier if all reduced price tickets are sold).

For garden lovers or those who enjoy family days outdoors, this is a gift promising sunny days ahead.

Buy OGSW 2019 tickets online now

London Parks and Gardens Trust Gift Membership

Eversheds Sutherland Vegetable Garden © Rachel Huckvale 6940
Eversheds Sutherland Vegetable Garden © Rachel Huckvale

Do you know someone who might be interested in supporting the London Parks and Garens Trust, as we work to cultivate knowledge and appreciation of London’s rich green infrastructure, and the people who care for it?

An LPGT Gift Membership will include a ticket to OGSW 2019, copies of our thrice-yearly magazine London Landscapes and our annual scholarly journal The London Gardener, discounted entry to our Winter Lectures, and our monthly enewsletters. You can find out more about joining the Trust on our website.

Buy LPGT gift membership online

Repton in London – published by the Trust’s research group

Repton in London was published earlier in 2018 to wonderful reviews – one reader described it as “a really splendid book, and I can see the depth of research that has gone into it”.
The book celebrates the influence that the great landscape designer had on London’s famous garden squares and open spaces. Published by our Research Working Group, it is a fascinating and beautifully illustrated volume.

Order a copy of Repton in London online

Reduced price tickets on sale now for OGSW 2019

Open Garden Squares Weekend’s Christmas ticket sale is now open! 

We are offering a limited number of adult weekend tickets for OGSW 2019 at the reduced price of £13. This special price will be available until 11pm on Boxing Day (26 December), or earlier if all tickets are sold.

Buy reduced-price OGSW tickets online now 

With the purchase of a Weekend ticket, you can explore a huge variety of gardens which are usually closed to the public – and enjoy activities and experiences for all the family.

It’s not just Father Christmas and his elves who are working hard on preparations at this time of year – the OGSW team is busy confirming a stellar cast of gardens for 2019, as well as planning some new and exciting activities.

The Passage Composite NO TEXT
The Passage © The Passage Charity

We can already announce one of the new gardens that will be joining us next summer – The Passage, an ornamental kitchen roof garden in Pimlico with commanding views over Westminster Cathedral. Designed by multiple Chelsea gold medal award-winner and BBC Gardener’s World presenter Adam Frost, it is situated on the fifth floor roof of The Passage Resource Centre for homeless people. The garden’s raised beds contain a fascinating collection of fruits, vegetables and plants with therapeutic uses, as well as an impressive wall sculpture of a tree of remembrance and a rose arbour that incorporates the roof’s chimneys.

We are also delighted to welcome back a host of favourites from 2018, including gardens that have been taking part in the weekend for many years.

Nomura International PLC (top © Anna Barclay, bottom © Candy Blackham)

One of our returners for 2019, voted 2018’s top garden by our visitors, is Nomura International PLC – this vast roof terrace with panoramic views of the Thames, formal gardens and award-winning kitchen garden will be open again for ticket-holders to enjoy.

Open Garden Squares Weekend highlights some of the best gardens and green spaces that make up the rich tapestry of London’s green infrastructure, but there are many others – just as valuable to their communities – which are in decline or under threat of development. Funds raised during OGSW mean that the London Parks and Gardens Trust can continue its work to protect them, so the money you pay for your ticket will continue to do good work across the capital long after the weekend is over.

Thank you for your support, and we look forward to seeing you at OGSW 2019!


Guest blog: architect Nicolas Henninger on the Dalston Mill and his contribution to the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden

Ahead of our next winter lecture on Making Space in Dalston 2007-2010 and ongoing, architect Nicolas Henninger (OFCA/EXYZT)with Francesco Manacorda (Curator of the Barbican Art Gallery’s Radical Nature Exhibition in 2009) and Liza Fior (muf architecture/art) – writes about Dalston Mill in 2009 and the start of the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden in 2010.

All are invited to attend the lecture with speaker Johanna Gibbons of J & L Gibbons on 12 November at 6.30pm: you can find out more and book tickets online.

Dalston blog1.1
Abandoned landscape © EXYZT

EXYZT was founded in 2003 by five graduating architects in Paris La Villette. It grew to 20 active members and operated internationally, creating self-build and inhabited urban and architectural installations, until 2015. We first became involved in the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden project in 2008, when we were commissioned by the Architecture Foundation to take part in the London Festival of Architecture. Led by Sara Muzio and I, EXYZT delivered the Southwark Lido, which set a precedent on the local buzzy architectural scene.

Francesco Manacorda, then Curator for the Barbican Art Gallery’s Radical Nature Exhibition, wanted some off-site projects alongside the main exhibition. He asked us to create a “living architectural installation” in East London, this area being the political focus for art and cultural projects in the lead-up to the 2012 Olympics. Francesco explains:

“This was a great opportunity to investigate both social ecology and how communities can take ownership of natural spaces in a city. The important part of the project was combining architecture and art, and with the involvement of different communities in daily activities.”

Francesco Manacorda
Artistic Director, V-A-C Foundation, Moscow and Co-Curator of the 11th Taipei Biennial (and formerly of Tate LiverpoolArtissima, Turin, and the Barbican Art Gallery)  

As I was based in Paris, I asked if someone could take us around the area. This was how I met Liza from muf. Muf had recently started a project with J & L Gibbons on Making Space in Dalston – a research and mapping exercise to identify Dalston’s cultural assets and plan potential projects to improve its public spaces.

“Sensitive to how much was being lost through an ‘efficient approach to development’, muf began mapping the assets of cultural and community organisations while J & L Gibbons mapped the green and open spaces. These strands then merged to identify empty sites which could be deemed – in the widest possible ways – a host to culture.

With the furious and energised residents of Dalston, we identified the derelict Eastern Curve as a garden in waiting. We saw the approach from the Barbican Art Gallery and EXYZT as an opportunity – to test the idea of a host space.”

Liza Fior, muf

Dalston Blog1.2
Top down: ‘Dalston Wheatfield’ and curved railway landscape from top of windmill © EXYZT; ‘Dalston Wheatfield’ and windmill © Eliot Wyman

The muf team took me on a tour of Dalston and showed us an abandoned landscape off Dalston Lane including the derelict Eastern Curve railway track – which actually still lies under the garden today. We were able to report to Francesco at the Barbican that this was the perfect site to host a month-long summer installation for the exhibition.

We planned to plant a wheat field, to re-enact Agnes Denes’ 1982 “Wheatfield – A Confrontation”, including the construction of a 16m high scaffold tower with a wind propeller at the top, so that we would be able to grind the wheat grown at ground level. The grain could then be used by the community to bake bread and other foods.

At this point, muf helped us build links with local community organisations such as Hackney Young Carers, to plan the project and bring it into being during the summer of 2009.

During this one summer month of our installation, the Dalston Mill quickly became a hugely popular public garden – a hive where everyone came to socialise, participate in workshops and engage with our wheat field oasis. It was also the place to meet local figures from Dalston’s art and cultural scene, including the internationally acclaimed local artist Stik and the legendary DJ Newton Dunbar from the former Four Aces Club.

Dalston Blog1.4.jpg
Anti-clockwise (all © EXYZT): ‘Dalston Wheatfield’, Stik in the Dalston Wheatfield and his artwork; Newton Dunbar and friends; community baking at the Dalston Mill.

The Mill was a real-life test of muf and J & L Gibbons’ research, and the impact on the Making Space in Dalston project was immense.

Dalston Blog1.3
Top down: Flour mill © Brice Pelleschi; pizza oven © EXYZT; and pizza workshop © EXYZT

Whilst the public hugely enjoyed our Dalston Mill for a summer, planners and councillors from Hackney Council also came to join us, and saw that this hidden public gem had amazing potential to be developed into a community garden.

“The Windmill was a powerful catalyst to turn Making Space in Dalston into a capital project. 15,000 people visited the garden in three weeks, and what had been dismissed as just an art project ended up bringing £1 million to Dalston. £150,000 of this was the capital for the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden, along with two years of a small grant.”

Liza Fior, muf

A few months after the Dalston Mill installation had ended, Liza told me that the Making Space in Dalston project had secured GLA funding to deliver some of its projects and recommendations, and that she would like to collaborate to deliver the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden.

My role from the beginning was to design a versatile structure to host various activities, and to build it with young people from the local Forest Road Youth Hub. The garden design process was accompanied by a series of workshops with these young people, to ensure they had all the necessary training and gained the confidence to build our design:

dalston blog1.5
Top down: Forest Road Youth Hub, Caitlin Elster and Nicolas Henninger © muf; Forest Road Youth Hub and members of the design team © EXYZT; Building the barn © EXYZT

“muf’s Caitlin Elster worked behind the scenes with the Hub to establish the structures, protocols and training for these young people to work with EXYZT. This answered the question: can cultural life include those who live in a place? Yes, if you create conditions where this is possible.

Our initial mapping helped build a detailed understanding of the area and its “actors”. The power of the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden is that many of these actors remain part of the life of the garden now.

As more development happens and empty spaces are given more context, more spaces are open to use, and transformation becomes even more important.”

Liza Fior, muf

For me, there was one essential element that I retained from the Dalston Mill experience through to designing the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden. This was its access through a physical door: the door created a threshold through which the public had to go, to discover another world on the other side.

Nicolas Henninger, OFCA / EXYZT


Dalston Blog1.6
Threshold, 2009 © EXYZT

A further guest post on the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden by Marie Murray and Brian Cumming will follow in November. 

Credits – Dalston Eastern Curve Garden
Landscape Architect: J & L Gibbons
Public Realm Architecture: muf architecture/art (Liza Fior, Caitlin Elster, Aranza Fernandez and Alison Crawshaw)
Artist: Nicolas Henninger OFCA / EXYZT
Structural Engineer and Civil Engineer: Civic Engineers
Cost Consultant: Artelia
Soil Consultant: Tim O’Hare Associates

Julia Kennedy (concept for blog content and editor)

Introducing Open Garden Squares Weekend 2019: 8-9 June 2019

Ennismore Gardens © Diana Jarvis 5710
Ennismore Gardens © Diana Jarvis

We are pleased to announce that we are making some exciting changes for next year’s Open Garden Squares Weekend! 

We have listened to your feedback, and this has led us to refocus our next event. The number of gardens taking part in Open Garden Squares Weekend has grown over the years, and so for 2019 we will be curating fewer gardens, but ones offering more exclusive access – and all in central London. We will also have a handful of ‘star’ community gardens for you to visit, which showcase how we can all work together to create and nurture unusual local green spaces.

Eversheds Sutherland Vegetable Garden © Diana Jarvis 5403
Eversheds Sutherland Vegetable Garden © Diana Jarvis

This means you can be sure your ticket will buy a unique experience, whichever gardens you choose to see – plus you won’t have to spend long travelling between visits!

Don’t worry – plenty of what you love will be staying. We will continue to have a printed guidebook, packed with beautiful photographs for you to keep as part of your visit. We will have our wonderful, welcoming volunteers on hand to give you the best experience. We have plenty of exciting activities and tours planned, as well as new gardens and much more. Better still, we are keeping our tickets at the same price as last year – but do buy early to get the best value.

Our OGSW 2019 Christmas ticket sale runs from 21 November until 26 December, with adult weekend tickets costing just £13 – but don’t leave it too late, as ticket numbers are limited. Early bird tickets will then be on sale for £15 from 11 February to 6 May. After that, full price tickets will be on sale at £20.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@OpenSquares) and Instagram for the latest updates including reminders of these ticket deadlines. Don’t forget to follow this blog too, for inside information and guest posts.


Wesley Square
Wesley Square © Diana Jarvis

OGSW is the main fundraising event for the London Parks and Gardens Trust, which campaigns for parks and green spaces facing development pressures.

You can make a donation online to the Trust and help us to cultivate, celebrate and champion London’s green spaces.