The appreciation of local green and natural spaces has increased significantly particularly during lockdown as there is a scientifically proven benefit on well-being when time is spent in more natural environments. Cities all over the world are creating green spaces for their residents* by making space for micro forests and planting in city centres. Even the smallest urban green space can be an essential habitat for local species and increase biodiversity. We’ve rounded up British destinations that are bringing nature back into the urban environment across the nation.
London’s highest public green space, the Sky Garden welcomes visitors to 360-degree views of the city’s skyline from the verdant landscaped terraces on the 35th floor of the building, also called the ‘Walkie Talkie’ due to the distinctive shape on the skyline. From Tuesday to Saturday DJ nights fill up the gardens with sound and light while visitors can enjoy sundowner cocktails with views over the city to the horizon.
St. Ermin's Hotel in Westminster welcomes more than just its regular hotel guests as the roof of the hotel has beehives and nest boxes which attract a wide variety of bees in addition to lacewings, ladybirds, earwigs, woodlice and spiders. Hotel guests can watch them from behind glass on the third floor of the hotel and engaging introduction courses to beekeeping are offered to learn more about apiculture.
Kampus is a lush and wild green space in the heart of the city of Manchester, a must visit garden neighbourhood with its own secret streets, gardens and terraces, housing some of the city’s best independent food and drink. Two of the highlights are Bread Flower, a bakery and florist in one, known for their delicious bagels and the family run business Nell’s bakes NYC inspired pizza out of local ingredients.
The beautiful Ivy Roof Garden in Manchester is a real hidden gem and the perfect spot to enjoy some delicious seasonal dishes and an array of great cocktails. Covered by a glass roof, the plants, flowers, foliage and colourful fabrics create an all-year-round green space with cosy atmosphere.
The contemporary arts centre Bluecoat is not only worth a visit for its dynamic exhibition program, but also for their beautiful communal garden courtyard, a peaceful haven offering the perfect spot to relax under the trees or soak up the sun. Bluecoat’s gardeners have created a diverse eco garden by planting a wide variety of plants.
Sefton park, in the South East of the city is a 200-acre natural landscaped park within easy reach of the city centre. Visit in the springtime to see a host of golden daffodils and spring blossom or throughout the year. The Palm House glasshouse has a collection of plants from all over the world and hosts events including magical concerts, club nights and yoga sessions.
Ten minutes from the city centre, visitors can find the Ashton Court Estate, an 850 acre park with trails for mountain biking, disco golf and a wide range of activities. The Estate also has a large herd of deer which roam in full view to create a magical backdrop at twilight. Every August, the iconic Bristol Balloon Fiesta takes place in the park attracting visitors from all around the world. For those looking for a real adventure, hot air balloon experiences are offered all year round to see another side of the city and the South West from above.
One Garden Brighton was designed by the landscape architect Dominic Cole who also designed the Eden Project and combines heritage sites with modern landscape innovation. Traditional fruit and vegetable crops as well as contemporary flower gardens have been planted and the venue hosts a diverse range of events including live music, markets and workshops. The onsite restaurant’s seasonal menu is inspired and supplied by the garden’s produce.
The garden of the Royal Pavilion is a wonderful public green space in the centre of Brighton. Organic principles were followed when it was created with native plants included to nourish biodiversity in the heart of the city and offer a haven for wildlife full with butterflies, bees and many different types of birds. It is the perfect spot for a picnic and people watching in the grounds of the unique and ornate Royal Pavilion.
PoliNations is one of the 10 UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK projects. ‘Plant Up’ in Birmingham (2 – 18 September) as part of PoliNations will see Birmingham’s Victoria Square transformed into a forest garden, host to a vibrant and spectacular free events programme, situated in an oasis of thousands of plants and flowers. Innovative super-trees will be fed by rainwater and create electricity using wind power. Installations will include music from around the world, light shows and a grand finale with confetti, light shows and live music from British up and coming artists.
Situated in the outskirts of Edinburgh, the Secret Herb Garden is a green oasis where visitors can learn about the important role that herbs and nature play in our daily lives. The Café & Bistro offer an opportunity to drink and dine among grapevines, fruit trees and herbs in a beautiful glass house all year round. The seasonal menu is inspired by and curated from the fresh produce grown on-site.
PoliNations, one of the 10 UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK projects, is previewed in Edinburgh between 6 - 14 August. ‘Mother Tree’ on George Street will host nine days of performance under the canopy of a 40-foot architectural pop-up tree. Creative local artist performances will take place in the magical space created by the tree presented in partnership with the Assembly Festival.
Kelvingrove Park is a short walk from centre and located on the river Kelvin right next to the University of Glasgow. The park was built to create a recreation and relaxation spot for the people in Glasgow. The park is home to many animals such as red foxes, otters and a huge variety of birds. Visitors can find several cafés, shops, art galleries, a skate park and the magnificent museum in the beautiful grounds of the Park.
Bute Park, the green heart of the city, is walking distance from the centre behind the castle full of wildlife and a wide variety of plants. The park hosts many of Cardiff’s celebrations and events. This summer, from the 29th to 31st of July the park will be hosting ‘Adventure Cinema’, the UK’s largest touring outdoor cinema when visitors can bring their own picnic and enjoy a movie performance surrounded by nature under the stars.
*Wunderman Thompson - The Future 100 2022
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