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King Henry’s Walk Garden: The magical green space you didn’t know existed

PUBLISHED: 18:05 13 June 2017 | UPDATED: 18:11 13 June 2017

Jenny Morgan, who organises the garden, in the greenhouse at King Henry's Walk Garden this week. Picture: Catherine Davison

Jenny Morgan, who organises the garden, in the greenhouse at King Henry's Walk Garden this week. Picture: Catherine Davison

Catherine Davison

Islington is notorious for its lack of green space. And yet some of its best nature spots remain unknown.

Organiser Jenny Morgan on the bridge over the pond at King Henry's Walk Garden. Picture: Catherine DavisonOrganiser Jenny Morgan on the bridge over the pond at King Henry's Walk Garden. Picture: Catherine Davison

The hidden King’s Henry’s Walk Garden, in Newington Green, is one of those. And that’s despite a stack of “best community garden” awards since it opened 10 years ago.

Ahead of two open days this weekend, volunteer Jenny Gray explains why this small garden is so important to its 200 members.

“It’s in the middle of a built-up area [a stone’s throw from busy Dalston on the Islington/Hackney border], so the importance of biodiversity and green spaces is massive.

“It’s a special place because of the passion of our members to keep it that way, and what we offer.”

One scheme is offering 70 2m×3m plots for people who don’t have gardens at their home. It costs just £25 a year and is available for anyone who lives within 1km of King Henry’s Walk.

The garden is also open to the public every Saturday afternoon, and every Sunday afternoon from May to September.

But things haven’t always been so pleasant at the site, Jenny says.

Flowers in King Henry's Walk Garden. Picture: Catherine DavisonFlowers in King Henry's Walk Garden. Picture: Catherine Davison

“It was used as tinder yard from the mid-19th century to the 1930s. The yard then became a rose garden, very similar to how it looks now. That was great, but by the 1980s, it had closed off because it was derelict.

“Because its location is tucked away from sight, it became a problem spot for drug addicts and prostitutes.”

By 2004, Islington Council wanted to do something about it. And after three years of planning, it reopened as a community garden in 2007.

Ten years on, the garden remains an open secret. And the committee (kind of) likes it that way.

Jenny says: “People say to us: ‘Oh my god, I live around the corner and I had no idea that this place exists!’

“That’s a weakness for us, but also a strength. We are amazed that local people are unaware of it, so we want more to be aware of it.

“But at the same time, we must also strike a balance for our members and make sure it’s a peaceful place to visit.”

King Henry’s Walk Garden is holding an open weekend on Saturday and Sunday between noon and 4pm. Its annual summer fete also takes place on Saturday. For more information, visit khwgarden.org.uk.

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