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


The Coutts & Co Skyline Garden ballot is now open!

(c) Peter Fiori

With so many gardens to explore over Open Gardens Squares Weekend, you’ll want to plan your weekend in advance. Most importantly, now’s the time to browse our programme of exclusive guided walks and tours – these events must be booked in advance and places are limited, so don’t miss out!

We’re particularly excited to announce that the ballot to visit Coutts & Co’s roof top Skyline Garden is now open.

Specialist tours

The Coutts & Co Skyline Garden

This exclusive tour of the rooftop kitchen garden at Coutts & Co is a rare chance to explore a unique space, 30m above street level, and home to over 9,000 organic plants including vegetables, fruit, herbs and edible flowers.

The brainchild of executive chef Peter Fiori, the garden lies on each side of a narrow walkway around the roof of the building, lined with troughs and tubs in the bays between windows. There are excellent views over the Strand, St Martin-in-the-Fields, Nelson’s Column and Zimbabwe House.

Tour places are allocated via ballot – find out more and enter online now (the ballot closes on 17 May).


Barbican Station Pop-up Garden

Visit the first community garden on the Underground, created on a 100m-long disused platform. DSC_0599 Find out more online then book from 8 May at 12 noon to 6 June at 12 noon, for a £3 charge on top of the standard ticket price.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Created to host the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, the Park was transformed from a brownfield site. Nearly 2 million tonnes of soil were decontaminated to make way for the largest wildflower meadow ever planted in the UK. Find out more online them book from 8 May at 12 noon to 6 June at 12 noon, for a £3 charge on top of the standard ticket price.

Guided walks

Over 50 specialist walks are on offer, with tickets available on a first-come-first-served basis. Walk highlights this year are now listed online, and include the following options, among many others.

A walk around Regent’s Park
Hear about the development of the park over the last 500 years, including how Henry VIII, Charles I, Oliver Cromwell and George IV all played a part in its story.

The Squares of Belgravia
These are some of the most desirable addresses in Westminster, and have been lived in by dukes, prime ministers, ambassadors, actors, poets and authors.

The Green Roofs of the City
Some of London’s most exciting green spaces are up in the sky! Visit three rooftop gardens and learn about planting for biodiversity high above the noise and traffic at street level.

Inner Temple Garden

Copse and Robbers – Adventure in Caledonia
A journey through London’s edge lands taken over by nature.

Horticulture and the Law
Explore the gardens of four Inns of Court.

Blooms, Bombsites and Burial Grounds
Explore secret gardens and hidden green corners originating from the Great Fire of 1666, the bomb sites of the Blitz, and the Burial Act of 1855.

Queenhithe – the Rise of a Medieval Port
A riverside walk to include the 30-metre long Mosaic celebrating the Dock.

Cable Street and the Local Community
A walk celebrating community gardens in the East End.

Guest blog by Dr Emma Filtness: garden poems and how to write them

Emma Filtness, judge of our micro-poetry competition, discusses tiny poems and her favourite garden poets, as well as offering tips and exercises to help burgeoning writers craft their entries.

(c) Emma Filtness

As a writer and a London dweller passionate about nature, I was honoured to be asked to judge the inaugural micropoetry competition for Open Garden Squares Weekend 2018.

From Blake and Dickinson to Tennyson and Wordsworth, the poetry tradition has a long-standing love affair with the natural world, with gardens both formal and wild, and also with our historic and vast city. Having created two new micropoems for OGSW 2018 myself (pictured on this page), I wanted to share some of my favourite contemporary poems about gardens and green spaces with you, as well as offering some exercises and ideas to get you writing.

Let’s begin with a definition of micropoetry. For those unfamiliar with this relatively new term, it’s defined by The Micropoets Society as “a genre of poetic verse which is characterised by its extreme brevity.”

This brevity of form has long and established roots in traditions such as the Japanese haiku, yet is also having a bit of a moment of late, due to the fact that its brevity makes it perfectly suited for sharing on many social media platforms. As The Micropoets Society slogan states, it is “short enough for Twitter”.

(c) Emma Filtnes

The fact that these little poems are perfect for social media also means that many of the poems end up being visual poems, with platforms such as Instagram and Tumblr being image-driven. Many poems are either illustrated or otherwise presented in an aesthetically pleasing way that complements the subject of the poem, giving the writer yet another way to express his or her creativity. What I love about micropoetry (and its sister-form flash fiction) is that the fact that you have so few characters really forces you to focus on just one moment or image or feeling, and you compress the language in order to contain that. What you end up with is a highly pressurised poem, almost fit to burst.

I recently stumbled across a beautifully verdant little pamphlet entitled White Hills by Eric Gregory Award-winning poet Chloe Stopa-Hunt, published by Clinic in 2016, and it was love at first sight. The spaces of Stopa-Hunt’s poems are the titular white hills rather than our green spaces, but flowers permeate this strange and softly surreal landscape – tulips, cowslips, primrose and more – although the landscape is one of decay (flowers are, after all, transient). Charles Whalley for Sabotage Reviews notes that “[e]dible plants or flowers spring up from almost every page” and that Stopa-Hunt’s poems are “fiercely, precisely compressed into small, bright glimpses”.

A rain begins,
Of red
Morning flowers
And fresh,
Sufficient light.

–excerpt from Education by Chloe Stopa-Hunt

Another of my favourite nature poets is fellow Brunel University Creative Writing MA graduate Rebecca Hubbard. Her book-length work of prose poetry, fittingly titled The Garden of Shadow and Delight, was published by Cinnamon Press in 2014, and the publisher described the role of the garden as “a locus of art, rhythm, healing, vision and remembrance, moving between light and shadow, but always with the promise of ‘the scent of azaleas gusting in like honey’”.

On first entering the garden through the circle of the moon gate, you gasped. Didn’t you now, flowers are most beautiful by moonlight? 

XIV by Rebecca Hubbard

If these poets have inspired you to have a go at a micropoem, try the following exercises to help you get started.


Four lines that rhyme:

Write four lines that rhyme about your favourite park or garden. Your rhyme scheme could be aabb, abab, or abca.

Write a haiku:

Pick a single image or moment from a park or garden and capture it in words. If you’d like your poem to be more along the traditional lines, include a season-word that indicates the time of year, and stick with three lines, the first 5 syllables, the second 7 syllables, the third and final line 5 syllables. Some ideas to get you started: a pigeon taking flight, a favourite flower blooming, a picnic rug unfurling…


  • Try to keep your language fresh by steering clear of cliché
  • If the character count seems too restrictive, write long then trim it afterwards
  • Include sensory detail – sound, smell, touch and more – to really bring your poem to life
  • Try to include a simile or metaphor for an engaging way to capture your image or moment

Happy writing!

Find out all about the competition and enter on social media