The Culpeper Community Garden is free to all visitors and open every day of the year. It is run and maintained by local people who volunteer their labour. It supports many organisations and charities. It depends entirely on charitable donations and funding. It is one of the few green spaces in Islington, and provides a place where anyone can come and enjoy the garden and relax. Come and see for yourselves.
Culpeper Community Garden is a beautiful public space in the heart of Islington, London. It is both a city park and an environmental community endeavour. Managed by and for local people it is a unique project where people from all walks of life come together.
The garden is hidden by high walls and encircled by great trees. It keeps its secrets until the last moment when you enter through a narrow iron gate in Cloudesley Road. From the top of the steps the first impression is of lush green – a lawn, a weeping willow, a pond and rushes. A beautiful dry garden lies to your right.
If you venture further through a wisteria and rose-covered arch you come to the second surprise. Although Culpeper is a park open to the public every day of the year it bears little resemblance to the normal public park. Apart from the communal areas there are forty-six small plots, gardened by local people, all singularly individual. The wide ethnic mix of garden members, each stamping their own particular style, prevents the garden from looking the slightest bit municipal.
The first impression is of a cottage garden with its joyous abundance of all the old favourites – the roses, foxgloves, snowdrops, forget-me-nots, daffodils, nasturtiums – spilling over the winding paths. These take you past a patchwork of small plots. Some are raised beds for the disabled. Some are filled with exotic vegetables, some with plants that are rare or unusual. There is plenty of interest for the plant connoisseur.
The community areas include the central lawn and pond, the Dry Garden, the rockery, the shady Wildlife Garden, the Culpeper Herb plot, with a lollipop tree in its centre, and the long Rose Walk (a summer highlight). Also a work area with greenhouse, compost bins and stacked wheelbarrows.
Steps lead up to a vine-covered shed. This is the Tea-hut, the hub of the garden where members take tea, chat and enjoy the sun on the terrace outside. A low building, clothed in climbers, is the Resource Centre, in constant use for workshops and other everts.
The garden is known for its friendliness. There are benches among the flowers for people to come and relax. The lawn might be strewn with office workers catching the sunshine in their lunch-break, the pond might be surrounded by children absorbed by the vibrant frog life. There might be groups barbecuing on the terrace by the Tea-hut. You will likely find the Garden-Workers – the life and soul of the place – directing volunteers tackling the many tasks that are needed to keep the garden up to scratch, or preparing an event in the Resource Centre.
The garden works hard to live up to its claim of being a ‘A garden for the people by the people’ by reaching out to and drawing in the community at large.