Abney Park Cemetery

Opening up: Abney Park Cemetery in Stoke Newington. Photograph: Google Streetview

Some of the most stunning hidden gems in London will soon be accessible to the public, as the city is set to host the Open Garden Squares Weekend on 17-18 of June.

A total of 237 gardens, a record number, have already been confirmed for the event – 20 of which are in Hackney.

The leafy oases are made up of private and community spaces, ranging from cemeteries and museums to schools and rooftop gardens. These will be accompanied by guides and tours, scenic cycle rides, music, food, and various other activities.

During the weekend, Dalston’s Eastern Curve Garden should be one to visit. The award-winning ‘secret’ idyll is situated on an old railway line in Dalston, and has an emphasis on ‘community involvement, wildlife-friendly gardening, food growing and nature-inspired design activities’.

Unfortunately, this treasure is at risk of closure by the council for possible development to provide ‘pedestrian permeability’ from Dalston Lane to the nearby shopping centre. Residents, businesses and communities have been invited to voice their views on the situation. The Open Garden Squares Weekend may be a great way for the garden to raise awareness of its beautiful community and strengthen the case to keep it as it is.

The Eastern Curve Garden will be open from 11am to 10.30pm on the Saturday and until 10pm on the Sunday. There will be a café selling refreshments, including food using fresh produce grown in the garden, and pizzas from the clay oven will also be available.

For the more traditional garden lover, down the road in Stoke Newington is the Abney Park Cemetery, one of the top seven cemetery gardens in London.

Managed by Hackney Council, the cemetery is now a woodland memorial park and local nature reserve. The atmospheric and overgrown garden contains numerous notable tombs and memorials such as those of General Booth and Catherine Booth, the founders of the Salvation Army, and members of the Loddiges family.

The cemetery will be open from 8am to 7pm, and their visitors’ centre and shop will be open from 10am to 5pm during the weekend, with staff and volunteers on site to provide free maps and leaflets.

On the Sunday of the event the cemetery will have a guided tour in which attendees will be taken in to their newly ‘stabilised’ chapel. John Baldock of Abney Park Cemetery told the Citizen: “It’s a wonderful opportunity for gardens both public and private to showcase their individual beauty.”

The event is organised by the London Parks and Gardens Trust, with the help of volunteers, to raise awareness of the significant social, cultural, environmental and economic contribution that gardens and squares make to the capital and its inhabitants.

For more information, please visit the Open Garden Squares website here

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