Bonnington Square Garden
Bonnington Square Garden Association (BSGA) came into being in 1993-4 when a long lease on 2-12 Bonnington Square was granted to the Association by Lambeth Council. The Association was led by Australian Evan English who had successfully lobbied for the creation of a community garden on the wasteland in the centre of Bonnington Square. Originally there had been 6 houses on the site but these were
destroyed during the Blitz and never re-built.
The garden was designed by committee and the antipodean influence is unmistakeable thanks to Evan and Kiwi Jimmy Fraser, while modern English influences have been brought by Dan Pearson and Andrew Gleave-Coley.
There are several defining features: the dramatic 8m diameter marble factory slurry wheel (a piece of industrial art installed by two resident engineers), the magnificent 60ft walnut planted in the early 80s, the lime arbour, the bamboo stand and a birch grove, all contributing to the original aim which was to provide a place of respite from the madding crowd, a slice of magic in the centre of London.
Like HRCG the garden receives no ongoing help from the council or other outside sources other than regular green rubbish disposal, and is looked after exclusively by local resident volunteers and friends on quarterly workdays.
In addition to the central garden, under the umbrella of the Paradise Project, BSGA planted many of the trees in the approaches to the Square in Langley Lane and Vauxhall Grove. This continued the 1980s guerrilla planting work of the original squatter residents. This, together with the two gardens has made a dramatic difference to the environment and hugely benefits local residents and visitors, many of whom make significant journeys to this green corner of central London.
Harleyford Road Community Garden
Harleyford Road Community Garden (HRCG) is on the site of a Georgian terrace that had long front gardens facing onto Harleyford Road, which by the 1970s were mostly demolished; the land was largely in GLC ownership and later the responsibility of LB Lambeth Housing Department.
In 1984 a community garden was formed here by Vauxhall Housing Co-op, which set up the Harleyford Road Garden Association to undertake a feasibility study. Initially vegetables were grown on the former wasteland and from 1986-88 the garden was designed and laid out by local residents, who continue to maintain it with workdays on the first Sunday of every month.
The garden is divided into several areas and consists of a children’s play area, grass areas, picnic area, shrubberies of native and exotic species, beds for herbs, and a small pond.
There are a few mature sycamores from the earlier domestic gardens, but otherwise the planting is entirely new. It has a perimeter wall with a small ironwork gate on Harleyford Road. It is used by schools and nursery groups for nature study. In 2009, new features include a mosaic wall, extended mosaic paths and new benches.