Women in Horticulture: panel of seven leading women to launch 2018’s Open Garden Squares Weekend

We are proud to launch this year’s Open Garden Squares Weekend with a Women in Horticulture panel discussion on Thursday 7 June, in partnership with Coutts. This very special event is a chance to celebrate 21 years of opening London gardens for public enjoyment, and to mark a year already being dubbed ‘the Year of the Woman’ ,

Poole's Park Primary School, Finsbury Park during Open Garden Sq
(c) LPGT

Seven leading women from the horticulture profession will explore the role of women as the creators, carers and champions of gardens in every shape and form.  They will discuss how each of them was called to horticulture, their inspirations, and the evolution of their careers since, and will share some of the challenges they’ve faced working in the profession so far. What does it take to design a show garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show? How easy is it to become a head gardener? Are there enough women in prominent roles, running their own businesses and winning awards?  Do women make better gardeners?

Tickets are £25 per person and available to book online now.

On the panel:

Sarah Eberle – the only woman ever to win ‘Best in Show’ at RHS Chelsea

Clare Foggett – editor of The English Garden magazine and current Chairman of the UK’s Garden Media Guild, the professional body representing gardening writers, journalists and photographers

Charlotte Harris – won gold at RHS Chelsea in 2017, and worked on her garden with an all-female design team

Dr Catherine Horwood – author of Gardening Women: their stories from 1600 to the present and set up gardeningwomen.com

Kate Jenrick – head gardener at Middle Temple

Juliet Sargeant – made history as the first black woman to exhibit at RHS Chelsea in 2016, and subsequently won a Gold Medal

Charlotte Rowe – won gold at RHS Chelsea in 2014

The event will be chaired by Ruth Holmes, Chair of the London Parks and Gardens Trust which organises Open Garden Squares Weekend, and Landscape and Public Realm Principal at London Legacy Development Corporation.

Ruth Holmes said: “We are absolutely delighted to bring together so many prominent women for this event. Hearing from each woman about their role models and inspirations and about their experiences of working at the top of the profession will be very inspiring and hopefully encourage other women to pursue careers in horticulture and landscape.”

(c) LPGT

Coutts is hosting the event, and guests will have a chance to hear about the Coutts Skyline Garden*.  The garden was the brainchild of executive chef Peter Fiori, and was created by the horticulturalist Richard Vine with the help of the Clink charity based at HMP High Down in 2012.  It lies on each side of a narrow walkway around the roof of the building, and includes a flourishing south-facing fruit garden, a kitchen garden and cottage garden. Guests will be served complementary canapés prepared by the Coutts kitchen.

*The Skyline Garden is participating in Open Garden Squares Weekend – visit places were allocated by a public ballot, which has now closed. 

Crossrail Place Roof Garden announces 2018’s events programme for Open Garden Squares Weekend

Once again the award-winning Crossrail Place Roof Garden at Canary Wharf will be appearing in Open Garden Squares Weekend for 2018. This stunning, exotic garden, hidden amongst towering buildings, will host a wide-ranging programme of free events over the weekend, epitomising OGSW’s aims to promote enjoyment and appreciation of London’s green spaces, wherever they are found amidst the urban jungle.

17-6-8 Candy Blackham, Canary Wharf Roof Garden, LR,--2
(C) Candy Blackham

The garden’s unique architecture and  landscape design were influenced by Canary Wharf’s maritime heritage, while its location, almost exactly on the Meridian Line, inspired the division of the garden into two geographical zones – in the east Japanese maples and bamboo grow, while New Zealand tree ferns thrive in the west.

17-3-24 Candy Blackham, Canary Wharf Roof Garden, LR, 5901-
(c) Candy Blackham

Alongside the activities programme – detailed below – visitors can enjoy an exhibition by artist Debbie Ayles entitled ‘Dynamic City: Reflections in Canary Wharf’. Debbie’s work depicts views of Canary Wharf  over a number of years and in different seasons, and is displayed throughout the garden. You might even be lucky enough to meet the artist herself.

See the Open Garden Squares Weekend website for more information, or read all event details on the garden’s dedicated Open Garden Squares Weekend page.

Timetable of events 


  • 11am-4pm: Childrens Workshops
  • 11am-4pm: ‘Tall Tales’ children’s stories (15 minute sessions)
  • 11am-4pm: ‘Meet the artist’ Debbie Ayles
  • 11am-3pm: Harpist performance
  • 1.30-2.15pm: Guided Garden Tour with Landscape Manager Alec Butcher


  • 11am-4pm: Childrens Workshops
  • 11am-4pm: ‘Meet the artist’ Debbie Ayles
  • 11.30am-4.30pm: Pianist performance
  • 1.30-2.15pm: Guided Garden Tour with Landscape Manager Alec Butcher

Information: Audience space is unreserved and limited. Due to popularity, audience space becomes full within a short amount of time. You may find areas closed on arrival due to them audience capacity being reached. Our advice is to turn up early and be generous to others. For everyone’s enjoyment and safety, portable furniture, glass bottles and glasses are not permitted. In adverse weather performances may be cancelled.



Weekend highlights for… music, theatre, art and poetry-lovers

In the first of our blog series leading up to Open Garden Squares Weekend 2018, we bring together some activity and event highlights across the Weekend for those of you who love music, art, poetry, theatre, or all four!

*Updated 5 June*

If you plan to attend Open Garden Squares Weekend with friends from a choir, literary group or other group with a cultural slant, you might like to consider our Group Ticket option – buy seven tickets and get the eighth for free!

Red Cross Garden (c) Diana Jarvis

This is by no means at exhaustive list – you can enjoy our cultural programme at gardens across London on both Saturday and Sunday. Please note that all event details may change: check the Updates page on our website for the latest details.


At the Red Cross Garden in Southwark (pictured) visitors can take part in a garden-themed poetry ‘erasure’ workshop with Dr Emma Filtness. Drop in and create new poems by erasing words from an existing text and placing what’s left as a new poem on a page. Using photocopies from old texts about flowers and gardens and armed with Sharpies and highlighters, participants will unearth poems hidden in prose. Saturday 1 – 4.30pm.

In association with The Poetry School, our popular Poets in Residence scheme will also be running again this year. Check our Poets page for all the details.


Bonnington Square will host open-air performances of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night by Flute Theatre on Saturday.  The show is played by six young actors, who merge acoustic music with Shakespeare’s verse. Tickets £15 – buy online for Saturday at 5pm or Saturday at 8pm.

Museum of the Order of St John (c) LPGT


The Museum of the Order of St John in Clerkenwell will host a ‘late’ session on Saturday evening with a pop-up cocktail bar serving Mediterranean cocktails, inspired by the Order’s Maltese history, and live music. Saturday 5-9pm

St Peter’s Bethnal Green Church and Vicarage Gardens will provide the backdrop for live music with performances by east London’s women’s choir Women Sing East on Sunday at 2.30pm, or head to Manchester Square Gardens on Sunday at 2.30pm to hear Broomdasher, an a capella group singing traditional English Folk Songs. Broomdasher will perform their special “Garden Set” of songs about love, loss, the summer and the harvest.

Crossrail Place Roof Garden will host a wide-ranging programme of free events over the weekend, including a harp performance, Saturday 11am-3pm, and a pianist on Sunday, 11.30am-4.30pm. More details of activities at Crossrail Place are coming soon here on the blog.


Activities at Crossrail Place Roof Garden also include an exhibition by artist Debbie Ayles entitled ‘Dynamic City: Reflections in Canary Wharf’. Debbie’s work depicts views of Canary Wharf  over a number of years and in different seasons, and is displayed throughout the garden. Debbie will be attending the event, giving visitors a chance to meet her.

Check back soon for more weekend highlights, whatever your interests! 

Activities highlights for 2018: how will you spend your Open Garden Squares Weekend?

We are excited to share some of the highlights of this year’s Open Garden Squares Weekend activities programme! Drop-in poetry, music, crafts and workshops enhance our pre-bookable guided walks and exclusive tours, helping you enjoy all the opportunities and experiences that London’s green spaces can offer. 

Cannon Bridge Roof Garden ┬® Paul Burnage
Cannon Bridge Roof Gardens (c) Paul Burnage

Read our previous blog post to find out more about guided walks and exclusive garden tours and visits – booking is now open for all of these. The walks, led by experienced tour guides, link London’s green spaces and explore their wider significance under a number of themes. The tours and visits give you exclusive access or special insight into Barbican Station Pop-up GardenCannon Bridge Roof Gardens, and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Walks and tours/visits cost just £3 per person with a weekend ticket.

Your ticket also gives you access to a host of free activities. This year, we’re proud to offer open-air performances of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, herb discovery walks, botanical trails, perfumery and a poetry workshop, plant sales, meditation sessions, butterfly and moth walks, and an evening cocktail bar. Children and families can take part in wildflower planting and insect house building, arts and crafts, nature trails and pond-dipping.

Over the coming weeks we’ll be running a series of blog posts exploring some of these activities under some key themes, including the cultural programme, family activities, and events helping you enjoy the city’s natural habitats and wildlife. Follow the blog to keep up to date and make the most of your weekend.

17-6-18 St Joseph's Hospice LR-0807
St Joseph’s Hospice Garden (c) Candy Blackham