The Garden Guide

Book: London Parks and Gardens, 1907
Chapter: Chapter 9 Squares

Characteristic features of London squares

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To describe most of these squares would imply a vast amount of vain repetition. Few have anything original either in design or planting. The majority have elms and planes mixed with ailanthus, while aucubas, euonymous, and straggling privet form the staple product of the encircling borders, with a pleasant admixture of lilac and laburnum, and generally a good supply of iris facing the gravel pathway. A few annuals and bedding-out plants brighten the borders in summer, and some can boast of one or two ferns. Occasionally the luxury of a summer-house is indulged in, and here and there a weeping ash has been ventured upon by way of shelter; a secluded walk or seat is practically unknown. The older gardens have some large trees, and the turf in all of them is good, and when it is with "daisies pied" it forms the chief delight of the children who play there. It may be that the distance of Netting Hill Gate from the smoke of the East End has encouraged more enterprise in gardening; certainly the result of the planting in Ladbroke Square is satisfactory. Several healthy young oaks are growing up; and a fountain and small piece of formal gardening round it, on the highest point of the long, sloping lawn, is effective. In the older squares, such as Grosvenor Square, the bushes are high, and the openings so well arranged that the lawns in the centre are perfectly private, and hidden from the streets. In the less ancient ones, such as Eccleston and Warwick, Connaught and Montagu Squares, the long, narrow strip leaves little scope for variation. An innovation of the usual square is to be seen in Duke Street, Grosvenor Square. This small square, which was laid out as a garden with sheltered seats, was made when the new red-brick dwellings replaced the smaller and more crowded houses. The middle is now the distributing centre of an electric power-station, but the roof is low and flat, and has been successfully transformed into a formal garden, with trees in tubs and boxes of flowers.