I cannot believe it was a year ago that we got our dog Bali, before she was even allowed out to socialise with other doggies we took her to the Open Garden Squares 2017 weekend and kept her on a blanket in the shade all day! We returned this year with a bigger pup who wanted to do lots of exploring!
Open Garden Squares is always one of my favourite events of the year and it always falls around the same time as the Chestertons Polo in the park which coincidentally was the day before. So I spent Saturday feeling a little delicate shall we say!
We crammed in the gardens this year, I think we totaled 8 on Sunday!! We always try to see different squares each year, visit the ones we haven’t been in before and of course find the dog friendly ones!
We started off in Warwick Square, Pimlico which features a rose garden, relaxing lawn area, children’s playground and designated doggy area. It is also home to a very strange plant, a Dracunculus Vulgaris, which smells like rotting meat and is pollinated by flies, sounds yucky right? Well unfortunately (or fortunately) the plant had been damaged by the weather this year so we didn’t get to sample its potent smell!
Next we drove over to Cadogan Place North, in previous years when we haven’t had a little dog with us we have visited the Cadogan Place South gardens which are huge, with tennis courts, live entertainment and refreshments. We had never been to the North gardens but these were dog friendly and home to the prettiest David Austen roses, also known as the William and Catherine rose and a beautiful Mimosa tree. There is also a bed of the Princess Margaret / Humanity roses.
We then headed towards South Kensington to visit Thurloe Square, I’ve rented many a property to clients on this square but have never actually seen the gardens! They were adorable, we popped to Paul’s baker prior to visiting the garden so we could snack on some croissants (well Dad actually managed to consume 2 apple turnovers!) and refuel with some refreshing drinks. The name of this garden takes its name from Oliver Cromwell’s secretary of state, John Thurloe.
After seeing our top selection of dog friendly gardens in Kensington we ventured back into my old neighbourhood, Notting Hill / Holland Park. I definitely think Kensington and Chelsea overall have the most wonderful private garden squares! First up we revisited Norland Square, this was Bali’s first garden square she attended last year and Molly, a resident dog carer on the square, even remembered her as a puppy! Norland Square is very easy to get around (I would know, I actually toured the gardens in a wheelchair one year as I had hurt my leg!), there’s a lovely gravel path around the outside.
Next we strolled just around the corner to St James’ Gardens, a stunning Church takes centre stage here. Charles Richardson built the houses around the square and set up the gardens for the residents who have always maintained them. He then gifted the garden site to the Chruch commissioners as he believed the house prices would go up in value as they had access to their own church. I think Ed Sheeran thinks the same as apparently he is building a church in the grounds of his home too!
After a quick pit-stop at The Mitre, our previous local pub in Holland Park, we headed to the finale garden, Ladbroke Square. We pretty much downed our drinks and rushed to M&S for picnic provisions in the space of about 30 mins as we needed to get to the Square for 4pm when The Treblemakers were set to perform. They are an all female a capella harmony group, I once interviewed them on my radio show and they are awesome! They are available for functions or even a Birthday sing song, they cover everything from Beauty and The Beast to Coldplay! You can book them here https://www.treblemakerslondon.co.uk/
Ladbroke Square is one of the largest private squares in London, it was originally the site of the entrance to the Hippodrome racecourse! Here we had our annual family selfie!
Thank you again for such a wonderful year, an event I’ll always look forward to and encourage others to visit too! See you next year!