The Victorian terraces surrounding Arlington Square in a quiet conservation area of Islington were completed around 1850. However the large open rectangle in the middle only became a garden square in the early 1950s when it was laid out by Islington council. Before that it was an unkempt open space, used during WW2 for trench shelters and barrage balloon moorings.
The square today has large mature trees, lawns and interesting shrubs, roses and flowerbeds. An energetic residents' association holds regular gardening sessions. Over the last six years volunteers have transformed the beds by digging in more than 50 tonnes of compost and manure, and planting over 45,000 bulbs, perennials and shrubs as well as magnolias, acers, palms, rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and 150 rose bushes.
Expert gardeners will also recognise some unusual and not very common shrubs and plants now flourishing in the gardens. These include Disporum longistylum
, Maianthemum salvinii
'Spotty Dotty' and Rhodoleia parvipetala
. Locals have also turned a neglected corner dump into a popular small community garden with raised fruit and flowerbeds.
IN 2016 Arlington Square was awarded a record number of awards and accolades: 'Outstanding' in RHS's It's Your Neighbourhood, Gold medal in London in Bloom's Best Small Parks, and joint first in their Clean and Green for the Queen awards. We came first in Islington in Bloom's Best Residential Community Garden, and third in the London Gardens Society's Large Public Garden Square category. In the Green Flag Awards the square was voted one of the best parks in the UK.
HRH The Prince of Wales has visited the square and declared how impressed he was by the level of community participation, the variety of the planting and the positive impact the volunteers' work is making on the neighbourhood. His brother Prince Edward, HRH the Earl of Wessex, also toured Arlington Square in 2014 as Patron of the London Gardens Society.
Arlington Square's large and peaceful space is now much loved and appreciated by Islington residents. The ongoing restoration of the square by residents from the surrounding streets is a stirring example of how communal gardening can bring neighbours together and forge friendships.
Capital Growth garden:
Lead Community Gardener: