The Victorian terraces that surround Arlington Square, in a quiet conservation area of Islington, were completed around 1850. But 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 had simply been an unkempt open space, used during WW2 for trench shelters and barrage balloon moorings.
The square today has large mature trees, shrubs, lawns, roses and other flowerbeds. A newly revitalised residents' association holds regular gardening sessions. Over the last three years volunteers have transformed the beds by digging in over 20 tonnes of compost and manure and planting more than 30,000 bulbs, plants and shrubs, as well as magnolias, acers, palms, rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, 150 rose bushes and a handkerchief tree.
In 2012, with help from a Big Lottery Groundworks grant, locals transformed a neglected dump in the corner of the square into a popular small community garden with raised vegetable, herb, fruit and flowerbeds.
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.
Lead Community Gardener: