This beautiful community garden in Islington, North London, has a wonderful long history, and an equally superb recent history. The site gets its name from some homes nearby that were believed to have been owned by Henry VIII, and was a timber yard in the 19th and early 20th century before becoming a council-owned park and rose garden. But severe vandalism eventually closed the space and for a while it accommodated a local school during rebuilding work.
In 2004, Islington Council started making noises about setting up a community garden, and the following year a community group gathered to start the process. It opened in 2007 and is now run entirely by volunteers. It includes fruit trees from apples to apricots along with quinces, gages, cherries, plums, gooseberries, peaches and pears, and a very small wood.
Local residents can grow their own vegetables and flowers in small community plots, and children peer into the pond at the dragonflies, frogs, newts and toads. Bees from hives in the woodland make the most of the abundant flowerbeds. The garden is run according to sustainable principles, with the paths and beds built using recycled materials, and rainwater harvested both from the garden itself and the roofs of nearby buildings. As well as lolling about in the gorgeous garden, locals can attend perfumery, cooking and composting workshops.
From a sad vandalised park to a much-loved community garden, King Henry’s Walk Garden is one of the loveliest signs that community is living and buzzing right in the middle of a busy city. Do visit their website to find out more.