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Five Good Things: what to do, read, book and buy this June

Flaming June! Summer’s here and with it a whole raft distractions and dates for your diary. They may not all be queen-related, but they’re sure to be royally good fun

Five Good Things: what to do, read, book and buy this June

Jubilee fête, Petersham Nurseries, 3-4 June

The cakes are baked, the coronation chicken’s nearly done and the garden’s trussed up in more bunting than is perhaps strictly necessary. The Platinum Jubilee weekend is almost here and we’re ready for it – though who needs to host when there are so many festivities elsewhere?

After sampling your next-door neighbour’s Victoria sponge at your local street party, we suggest you make a beeline for Petersham Nurseries in Richmond. Over the course of Friday 3 and Saturday 4 June, the riverside house’s grounds, gardens and café will transform into a delightfully decadent summer fête. Think picnics and performances, cocktails, cream teas and competitions for kids and grown-ups alike. No booking is required. For details, visit the Petersham Nurseries website.

‘Soil to Table’, The Land Gardeners, with Lulu Cox and Nancy Cadogan

The holistic connection between the earth and what we eat is, in the modern world, often eclipsed by convenience and cost. But there are an increasing number of people making the case for forging better connections with farming, food and the land that nurtures it. Healthy soil, they argue, is the key to healthy and sustainable subsistence.

Among those championing a more grass-roots approach to cooking and eating is Lulu Cox, one-third of SSAW Collective, who we interviewed last year. Together with soil fanatics Henrietta Courtauld and Bridget Elworthy, aka the Land Gardeners, Lulu has recently published Soil to Table, a book brimming with recipes and practical ways in which we can all improve biodiversity through gardening and eating, all illustrated beautifully by Nancy Cadogan.

London Square Open Garden Weekend, 11-12 June

Continuing the outdoorsy theme, one thing that’s really hit home recently – in part thanks to our trip to RHS Chelsea Flower Show, with its new balcony category – is that urban gardens are where it’s at. Don’t be fooled into think you need lots of land to nurture something beautiful into existence.

London’s myriad gardens squares are proof of exactly that – though most of us don’t get a peek. Tantalisingly hidden behind hedges and black railings, these horticultural havens are the preserve of a lucky key-holding few – until now, that is.

Over 11-12 June, the London Gardens Trust has organised for more than 100 squares across the city to throw wide their gates to the public. Highlights include William Morris’ Arts and Crafts garden at Kelmscott House in Hammersmith, the 300-year-old trees at Inner Temple, and the Royal College of Physicians’ medicinal garden, containing 1,000-plus plants connected to the history and practice of medicine worldwide. For details on tickets, visit the London Garden Trust website.

‘In the Black Fantastic’, Hayward Gallery, 29 June-18 Sept

As part of a summer-long celebration of Black art and culture, the Hayward Gallery’s ‘In the Black Fantastic’ brings together 11 contemporary artists from Africa and its diaspora, exploring the ways in which they use myth, folklore, science fiction and spiritualism to address the past or build fantastical futures. This ‘conjuring’ of new ways of being, explains the gallery, is liberating, showing how creativity can address racism, injustice and the Black experience.

Expect a host of recognisable names working in painting, photography, video, sculpture and mixed media, from Chris Ofili and Kara Walker to Lina Iris Viktor and – our pick – Nick Cave, with a piece from his majestic ‘Soundsuit’ series. Visit the Southbank Centre website for details.

Fine Interiors, Sworders, 14-15 June

And now, some art you can buy – and not just that, but antiques and furniture to boot. In mid-June, the Essex-based auction house is hosting a two-day sale of all manner of beautiful things from across the globe.

Among the treasures going under the hammer are a clutch of items belonging to the recently retired Gordon Gridley, antique supremo of Camden Passage, an edit of Continental curiosities chosen by Paolo Moschino, and an array of African and tribal art collected by the late John Rendall.

Known as London’s own Lion King, Rendall attracted attention in the late 1960s when he and flatmate Ace Bourke bought one of the beasts from Harrods and called him Christian, raising him in Chelsea on a diet of steak. Many of the 26 lots of his in this sale, featuring drums, head rests and tribal weaponry, were bought when he and Ace took Christian back to live in Kenya. Wild stuff. Visit the Sworders website for details.

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