The Hackney gardeners bringing the 'countryside into the capital'

A group of Hackney gardeners have transformed Kingsland basin on Regent's Canal, into a place where wildlife thrives

A group of Hackney gardeners have transformed Kingsland basin on Regent's Canal, into a place where wildlife thrives - Credit: Gideon Corby

A group of Hackney gardeners have been busy cleaning and greening a Regent's Canal basin in De Beauvoir Town for almost ten years. 

The Wildlife Gardeners of Haggerston, led by Gideon Corby and Esther Adelman, have planted green areas and floating plant islands in and around Kingsland Basin, transforming what was a neglected industrial site into a environment where wildlife thrives. 

Gideon, who recently left his job as a lecturer to study ecology, said: “Wildlife gardening has proved itself as a way of enhancing the interesting but harsh industrial and modern landscape in inner cities.

"Bringing a bit of the countryside into the capital, it is fantastic to see a cleaner and greener canal for everyone to enjoy.”

The Wildlife Gardeners of Haggerston have been planting and cleaning up the area for almost ten years

The Wildlife Gardeners of Haggerston have been planting and cleaning up the area for almost ten years - Credit: Gideon Corby

Local residents Gideon and Esther moved to their home overlooking Haggerston’s Kingsland Basin in 2012.

The couple went on to established the Wildlife Gardeners of Haggerston and set about cleaning the canal.

What began as two people picking up rubbish, quickly became a community of neighbours mobilised by a shared love of wildlife and their local area.

Most Read

The group planted bulbs, trees and a wildflower meadow, giving new life to the 350 meter waterside enclave from Kingsland Road to Whitmore Road Bridge.

New species nesting in the rejuvenated patch include sparrows, starlings, kingfishers, herons, sparrowhawks and four different types of bats.

The Hackney gardening groups efforts has meant new species nesting in the basin

The Hackney gardening groups efforts has meant new species nesting in the basin - Credit: Gideon Corby

The gardeners also focused on aquatic planting in the basin thanks to a grant from their social landlord, L&Q.

The funding went towards the installation of new floating islands to create shelter and foraging areas for wildlife. 

The islands also filter the water of excess nutrients and pollutants.

Sophie Leedham, resident involvement manager at L&Q, said: "Not only have the Wildlife Gardeners of Haggerston created a thriving ecological reserve, but their actions have also reaffirmed the importance of green spaces for community spirit, physical health and mental wellbeing."

Kinsland basin on Regent's canal

The gardeners' long-term plans involve creating a blue and green corridor for wildlife to travel from the Lea Valley into inner London - Credit: Gideon Corby

The group’s horticultural pursuits were recognised when they received the European Award for urban ecological gardening in 2019.

The gardeners’ future plans involve connecting the entire canal with all the parks and green spaces along its route.