Apparently, garden squares are the most unique London - or even the most unique English - contribution to the history of town planning. However, all too often a "garden square" is little more than a stretch of grass surrounded by that icon of a tree, the London plane (Platanus x acerifolia). It is still loved of course, as all green space in an urban environment is, lapped up gratefully by the nature-starved city-dweller. But it does not seem to merit the title of garden.
Not so Cleveland Square Gardens. This is a true oasis in the city, with flowers galore in both jewel and pastel coloured borders, a lawn to have picnics on and even a tiny playground for children. There are majestic old trees, many smaller but rarer specimen, an enchanted pavilion hidden under rambling roses, a woodland area and shrubs around three of the square's boundaries. On the forth, one of the surrounding blocks of flats backs directly onto the gardens (as opposed to across the road and pavement), with little private patios or terraces as "interface". Oh yes, I could well imagine living in one of those flats!
So here are a few pictures of Cleveland Square Gardens from that summery June weekend. Be sure to scroll down and continue reading though! (And for more information on garden squares see here or here. Apart from the book reviewed in the last link, I'd also recommend London's Pride, The Glorious History of the Capital's Gardens, ed. by Mireille Galinou of The Museum of London, 1990 - although this latter is about so much more than square gardens.)
As you may have noticed, there is a new section to this website called Portraits. It has been a long time in the making, but I intend to publish there every now and then - as time allows - interviews, portraits etc. in a more journalistic style. The first is about Suzanne Etherton, resident and garden manager of Cleveland Square Gardens. So there you are - I hope you will enjoy the read.
A Very Happy New Year to you all - may it be a peaceful one!