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I visited the Lost Gardens of Manchester exhibition a week ago and have been feeling inspired ever since. It’s a great example of collaboration, urban gardening and use of a three dimensional space within a gallery setting.

The exhibition is a collaboration between The National Trust & Manchester City Art Gallery. It aims to open up access to green space & gardens whilst forming part of The National Trust’s 10 year aim to create partnerships with other organisations.

Created by the National Trust Gardener in Residence along with 30 volunteers over 12 days, the garden contains over 10 tonnes of compost & 500 nostalgic plants & wild flowers, including peonies, ferns, succulents & grasses to name but a few. The installation was inspired by theses historical gardening gems of Manchester-

Royal Botanical Gardens of Old Trafford:

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Belle Vue Zoological Gardens:

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Sunken Gardens of Piccadilly:

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Orchards of Shudehill:

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The gardens are located at the front of the Manchester City Art Gallery, sitting nicely within is stone pillars, the stacked wooden containers create groupings of planted raised beds and arrangements, scattered with deck chairs and garden benches it provides the perfect lunchtime escape.

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The use of beehives reference the worker bee as the motif for Manchester’s “hive of industry”, featured both on the Manchester crest and the mosaic floor of the town hall. Due to a national decline in bee populations there has been a conscious effort to increase the number of bee hives in Manchester city centre. In response to this the Manchester City Art Gallery now houses three hives on its roof to demonstrate its continued commitment to greening. The use of wildflowers goes hand in hand in maintaining a healthy bee environment.

I left the gallery feeling inspired and full of ideas of how I could recreate a similar arrangement in my small back yard. It’s no longer essential to have a green lawn and flower beds to be a gardener, its about making the most of what you’ve got, plants can be planted in all kind of reusable containers. This can surely only inspire and educate city dwellers of how they can also create urban gardens with what little space they have.

It’s also an innovative method of educating the people of Manchester about its history and by gone eras and reviving old plant species. Looking at the sites of these gardening gems now, it’s difficult to conceive the beauty and scale of ‘The Lost Gardens of Manchester’ over the last two centuries.

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Images sourced from: Manchester Evening News, The National Trust, English Heritage, Chethams Library websites.

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