Discover Hackney's hidden gems for Open Garden Squares Weekend

Eleven Hackney gardens will be unlocked to the public on 18 to 19 June

FROM traditional private squares to contemporary roof gardens, via skips, barges, museums, schools and allotments… Over 200 gardens will be unlocked to the public for Open Garden Squares Weekend on 18 to 19 June. 

Some of these gardens are private, others are not normally open at weekends, and all are hidden gems. Most are cared for by dedicated volunteer groups, passionate about their garden and their local community. For a single weekend, one £12/14 ticket allows you access to all of them, as well as a full programme of tours, art activities and guided walks.

This year, 11 Hackney gardens are taking part in the festival. Natalie Mady, who helps to run Cordwainers Garden off Mare Street, said: “The garden is quite hidden so for us Open Garden Squares Weekend gives us the opportunity to show others what our group has achieved. 

“We love welcoming new people into the space, sharing our experience and hopefully this inspires others to do the same. This year we’ll have the finished piece from our ‘Grow a London Garment’ project on display, as well as tea, delicious cakes and plants for sale.”

Clissold Community Garden is a prime example of a housing association’s horticultural therapy programme and their 'plot-to-plate' project, funded by the Big Lottery local food scheme, while aThe Growing Kitchen, in a quiet corner of Hoxton, you can witness how residents transformed a formerly disused site into a beautiful shared garden.

Elsewhere in Hackney, the place that inspired the BBC television series EastEnders – Fassett Square (pictured below) – will be on show, while gardening activities for children will be hosted in the Geffrye Museum’s grounds. 

Nancy Loader, the museum’s Communication Manager, said: “We want to welcome as many people as possible to discover and enjoy our gardens, which are described as an oasis in the heart of the city.” 

Q&A sessions with founders and volunteers at Dalston Eastern Curve Garden will be accompanied by pizzas, baked in the clay oven. 

Marie Murray who co-runs the space, said: “We love the enthusiasm for the garden from the visitors who come from far and wide for Open Garden Squares Weekend. We are always very proud to show them how this old railway line has been transformed into a green haven for people and wildlife. 

“For many of the visitors it’s an opportunity to visit Hackney for the first time and see a side of the borough that they didn’t know existed. It’s great to hear many of them say ‘I wish we had a garden like this where we live!’”

Meanwhile, if you head down to the award-winning Gloucester Square Residents’ Garden, situated between Haggerston Park and Regent’s Canal, you can see how a once neglected area has been turned into a thriving community garden.

Check out Abney Park, a 32-acre historic park, cemetery and nature reserve in a built-up inner-city area, which was opened in 1840 as a Nonconformist garden cemetery, or discover The Castle, a large Victorian water pumping station, listed grade II*, with a food, wildlife and education garden.

Head down Mare Street and 100 years of gardening tradition are on show at St Joseph’s Hospice. And a pop-up cafe makes St Mary’s Secret Garden the perfect place to end your horticultural hotfooting.

Tickets to Open Garden Squares Weekend cost £12 before the event and £14 on 18 & 19 June.