The Great London Garden Trail is back

Take a magical walk around ten outstanding urban gardens this Bank Holiday weekend
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Grosvenor Hill garden in Wimbledon (designed by John Brooks)
© Designed by John Brooks
This fabulous Grosvenor Hill garden in Wimbledon is part of this year's Great London Garden Trail on May 3
Last year, on Bank Holiday Monday, more than 5,000 of you followed The Great London Garden Trail, the mystery tour that led to a series of inspirational urban gardens.

Following the phenomenal success of last year’s trail, the RHS, Dorling Kindersley, the Society of Garden Designers and Homes & Property have created a new trail this year, with the emphasis on growing plants of all kinds, including vegetables and fruit.

On the May 3 Bank Holiday, the trail will cut a swathe from Bow in the east through to Ealing in the west, incorporating the smallest courtyard to the largest family garden.

Ten outstanding London gardens will comprise the trail, and owners will throw open their gates to the public from 12am to 5pm, for free.

The distinguishing factor is that each has been created by professional designers, including Chelsea veterans such as John Brookes and Andy Sturgeon, whose sculptural rooftop garden at Great Ormond Street Hospital, with easy-on-the-eye lawn carpets and yew hedging, kicks it off.

The next stop, in Bow, designed by Amanda Patton, shows how lush planting, which includes bamboo and banana, can blur the boundaries and make the smallest garden appear to stretch into infinity.

How To Grow Practically Everything (DK)
© DK/Brian North
One of the beautiful gardens in the new RHS book, How to Grow Practically Everything (DK)
Somehow Joanna Herald has achieved the impossible at a family garden in Blackheath, third on the trail: giving every member of the family what they want.

Walls of reclaimed brick divide space into play areas, greenhouse, woodland, a water rill and veg plot. The wisteria should be in full flower.

Herne Hill is the next location for two diverse gardens: the first, designed by Pamela Johnson, shows how to marry outside space with a new kitchen extension so there is a seamless join; the unusual touch in breaking up the long, narrow garden is to create three circular lawns, and detract from the plot’s slim silhouette.

The second, designed by the company Acres Wild, is a green oasis of textural, sensual plants such as tree ferns, grasses and arum lilies, which make full use of London’s microclimate.

Charles Rutherfoord's Clapham garden
© Gap photos/Suzie Gibbons
Charles Rutherfoord's Clapham garden
Clapham is the sixth stop for a plantsman’s garden, hidden behind a wall of railway sleepers clad with roses, Japanese quince and clematis; owner Charles Rutherfoord’s succulents and sub-tropical plants take pride of place in a futuristic glass geodetic dome that looks like it just landed among 1,000 tulips.

Onwards to Wimbledon for a Gothic cottage and an intimate courtyard
garden designed by John Brookes. If you want lessons in making the most of a small space, this is the place.

Wimbledon is also the eighth location, for a stunning woodland garden, designed by Andrew Wilson and Gavin McWilliam, that includes a main border defined by clipped yew hedges, a bulb meadow and a reflecting pool, filtered through decorative reeds.

Cross the Thames to Hammersmith, for a west-facing walled garden designed by owner Emma Plunket that offers ideas for sustainable landscaping as well as raised beds of fruit, vegetable and herbs. The lollipop trees of Photinia Red Robin are there for the copying.

Designer Denis Cardwaller, for the last award-winning garden, near Ealing Broadway, was given a stiff challenge: the plot had to include a track for a Swiss mountain model train, which now winds its way through a backdrop of climbers and perennials.

To download a copy of The Great London Garden Trail, which includes garden details and map, visit

Keep up with Pattie Barron's latest gardening news via her blog at

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