Open Gardens Squares 2016: Discover Islington’s hidden green gems with exclusive Gazette ticket offer

King Henry's Walk Gardens (Picture: London Parks and Gardens Trust)

King Henry's Walk Gardens (Picture: London Parks and Gardens Trust) - Credit: Archant

The doors will be thrown open to some of Islington’s most beautiful gardens next weekend (18-20 June), offering a glimpse into the borough’s secret green heart and an alternative take on some well loved nature spots.

Liz McAllister of Freightliners Farm in Islington, which will be opening its doors for Open Garden S

Liz McAllister of Freightliners Farm in Islington, which will be opening its doors for Open Garden Squares weekend (Picture: Ken Mears) - Credit: Archant

Open Garden Squares Weekend is run by the London Parks and Gardens Trust.

Reviewing some of Islington’s highlights, a spokeswoman said: “Arlington Square has a chequered past – it only became a garden square in the 1950s and before that it was an unkempt open space used during the Second World War for trench shelters and barrage balloon moorings.

“Arvon Road allotments were also constructed on disused land next to the railway freight line.

“In Barnsbury Wood, the area has the smallest Local Nature Reserve in London, teeming with wildlife.”


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Visit opensquares.org for a full list of the gardens on show, or read on for four of the best.

Tickets will be £14 on the door, but pick up a copy of next week’s Gazette to get yours for £7.

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Freightliners City Farm, Paradise Park

Freightliners Farm will be opening its doors for Open Garden Squares weekend

Freightliners Farm will be opening its doors for Open Garden Squares weekend - Credit: Archant

A garden with a difference, Freightliners Farm is known as much for its produce and farm animals as it is for its ornamental arrangements.

Hedgerows and meadow flowers help give the gardens their attractive design, while the farm aims to teach people the benefits of growing, processing and eating their own food.

The gardens will be hosting children’s growing activities on Saturday morning, as well as well as holding a plant sale througout the weekend. There will also be a chance to meet some of the animals from the farm, who “always enjoy meeting new friends” according to the trust.

King Henry’s Walk Garden, King Henry’s Walk

King Henry's Walk Gardens (Picture: London Parks and Gardens Trust)

King Henry's Walk Gardens (Picture: London Parks and Gardens Trust) - Credit: Archant

This formerly derelict site has been transformed by volunteers into an organic garden where residents can grow their own fruit, veg and flowers.

Small plots are allocated to local people around the garden, which are planted with espalier and fan-trained fruit trees (meaning they grow against a wall in different patterns).

Visitors will be able to enjoy the beautifully planted flower borders around the lawn or observe water wildlife at close hand from the low bridge across the pond.

The site is also noteable for its small wooded area, which is managed as an area of wildlife habitat.

A plant sale will be held over the weekend, as well as a summer fete which will take place on Saturday.

Homemade refreshments will be on offer across the weekend.

Melissa Garden Bee Sanctuary, Upper Street

Melissa Garden Bee Sanctuary

Melissa Garden Bee Sanctuary - Credit: Archant

Just a few minutes’ walk away from Highbury and Islington Tube station, this garden acts as a bee sanctuary, with two hives installed in 2012.

The site sanctuary was established to give bees a protected home in Islington, having lain unused and hidden away from the public for many years.

Its enclosed and unique feel is due to the Victorian Gothic church tower, a landmark in the local area, which overshadows the garden.

Filled with bee-friendly plants native to the area, this little known garden is the perfect place to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Guides will be on hand across the weekend to provide information about bees, their behaviour and threats to their survival.

There will also be an opportunity to learn about and visit nearby Compton Terrace Gardens.

Arlington Square Gardens

Arlington Square Gardens (Picture: London Parks and Gardens Trust)

Arlington Square Gardens (Picture: London Parks and Gardens Trust) - Credit: Archant

The gardens at Arlington only became a public garden in 1950.

Before then it was an unkempt open space, used during the Second World War for trench shelters and barrage balloon moorings.

The square today has large mature trees, lawns and interesting shrubs, roses and flowerbeds.

It also features more than 45,000 bulbs, perennials and shrubs as well as magnolias, acers, palms, rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and 150 rose bushes.

Activities on offer include guided tours, while those attending will be able to buy produce from the garden, as well as drinks and snacks.

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