A group of Manchester residents from businesses and community groups is seeking support to plant a vertical garden in the city’s Piccadilly Gardens.
It is a ‘terrible shame’, claims Piccadilly People, ‘that the first/last and most dramatic view of the city for the majority of visitors and residents remains Piccadilly Gardens’. Although there are some wonderful buildings, dramatic water fountains and some fabulous street performers, it adds, ‘the most eye-catching part of the area is the drab imposing wall that splits the public space with the aim of reducing the negative effects of the bus interchange’.
It is this wall that the group would like to see covered in vegetation.
Erected in 2002, the wall is 130 metres long and over four metres high; the main part curves around a central pedestrianised area, but a smaller section is separated from it by a footpath.
The vertical garden could be trialled on this stand-alone part of the wall, says Piccadilly People, on a metal frame mounted to prevent root damage to the concrete.
The plants would grow on a felt layer built into the metal frame. Vegetation on the bus interchange side would comprise a range of bushy, evergreen plants. ‘But the real treat could be on the pedestrianised side, where the garden could be planted full of vigorous growing strawberry plants that could thrive in the Manchester urban climate.’
Vertical gardens have been established successfully in various parts of the world, including Paris, Spain and Hong Kong. They are visually attractive, help improve the general environment, and absorb traffic noise as well as pollutants.
Piccadilly People’s campaign is in its early days. ‘We work from the basis that from small acorns mighty oaks grow,’ said a spokesperson. ‘We don’t own the space but we can work together to build pressure to create an improvement. There are some fantastic examples across the UK and further afield of how urban landscapes have been transformed from very negative, intimidating spaces to vibrant, inviting and inspirational space, so why not in Manchester?’
The group has contacted Manchester City Council leader, Councillor Richard Leese, and is now awaiting a reply. ‘We have also started talking to a range of other politicians and stakeholders, such as Councillor Kevin Peel, Jonathan Reynolds MP and Arlene McCarthy MEP, and are also talking with Lancashire Wildlife Trust, Recycle4GM, and academics at the Manchester and Sheffield universities.’
You can follow and support Piccadilly People’s campaign on facebook Manchester Piccadilly Vertical Gardens and Twitter @McrPiccVerticalGrdns