This weekend London’s green spaces will be opened up to the great British public as part of Open Garden Squares 2016. The two day celebration, which is run by the London Parks & Gardens Trust, is designed to raise awareness of “the significant social, cultural, environmental and economic contribution that gardens and squares make to the capital and its inhabitants.”
219 of London’s most unique and private gardens will open their gates, including the Coutts & Co Skyline Garden, The River Cafe garden, Nomura’s vast roof terrace, the Eversheds vegetable garden and the petite MaRoCoCo Garden at Rococo Chocolates. Additionally, some of London’s premier garden squares, normally only available to residents, including Eccleston, Eaton and Belgrave Square, will be open too.
Whilst a certain degree of intrigue and snooping will no doubt drive visitor numbers this weekend, the event also provides an opportunity to celebrate London’s relative wealth of green space and parkland. Public open green space accounts for around 18% of Greater London, meaning that for its size, the city ranks as the greenest in the world, above New York, Berlin, Paris and even Stockholm.
A key reason for London’s green landscaping is the role Queen Victoria and Prince Albert played in championing public parks and spaces in the 19th century. The aim for every Briton to enjoy the Victorian love of the great outdoors created a green city like no other. But with a squeeze on office and residential space in the 21st century, will we begin to see developers abandon the provision of outdoor spaces at new builds? The government will certainly need to carefully balance the importance of preserving open green spaces with the growing need to provide more land for housing.
In the meantime, the trust behind Open Garden Squares will continue to use funds raised from the weekend to champion the conservation and protection of the capital’s parks and gardens, to the greater good of every Londoner. In any industry based around bricks and mortar, surely that little bit of greenery is something to be celebrated too.