‘Arden Gardeners’ is a public art and gardening project for Arden Estate in Hoxton, funded by the Our Space Award.

The inspiration behind the project was to breathe new life into the estate’s community space through new communal planting beds and seating.

Designer and horticulturist, Jane Heather, and artist Finn Thomson, both worked on the project, combining art, design and gardening to create a more attractive place for local people to socialise, enjoy and care for.

Alice White, Project Lead, answers some questions:

-What has been your best/most rewarding moments?
The joy on resident Linda’s face when she saw the rose planted in memory of her mother who used to live on the estate.

-Has there been any changes/tweaks that you have had to make during the project?
The timeline shifted for the project slightly as the re-hard landscaping took place later than anticipated.

– What element of your project do you think has worked the best?
The planting has particularly worked well since it involved consulting with residents and enabled a way to tell stories about the place and people living there. Furthermore, using the history of the site with the knowledge that it was once where the Victorian Britannia Theatre stood, as well as it being a victim of The Blitz, also inspired the planting and re-design of the benches in an interesting way.

– Do you think more people will visit/enjoy this area now?
Yes, we have already received many positive comments from local people who walk past the gardens on their lunch break. Residents who live directly next to or above the garden are also much happier about the way it looks, and the knock-on effect it has had on people respecting the area.

– Do you think a greater sense of ownership has been developed in the area?
We hope that we have shown what an artistic outlook on the everyday can make happen; be it with brightly coloured planting, rejuvenating grey railings with red oxide paint or installing new seating. We hope our time and care can be appreciated, felt, embraced and acted upon by other people; be it the residents living here or the people walking past taking pride in their community.

– If you could offer some advice to future applicants, what would you say?
We would encourage openness and flexibility from the start but stand your ground and make sure that decisions are made with the community involved in the project, or if this is not possible at times, with the heart of the community in mind. Change is not always easy for people to embrace, so remain empathetic and reliable.