The Lost Gardens of Manchester’ showcases the city’s rich gardening heritage over the last four decades.

A major new garden installation which will emphasise the historic architecture of Manchester Art Gallery with stunning planting and places for people to sit and enjoy. 


Inspired by Manchester’s rich gardening heritage, the installation, The Lost Gardens of Manchester’ produced by The National Trust, delves back into Manchester’s past to celebrate its wonderful gardens of yesteryear.


The project is no mean feat; the team of gardeners and volunteers have used 10 tonnes of compost already to create the strong visual effect required. For the opening date on April 2, there will be a magical display of orchids inside the stairwell and the display will house plenty of blossom throughout the Spring season.


As visitors wander through, there will be elements that remind them of the bountiful orchards that used to be at Shudehill in 1753, as opposed to the current bus interchange situated there now. 


Parts of the display will focus on the palatial glasshouses and grounds of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Old Trafford which welcomed 4.75m visitors into the gardens for an exhibition celebrating Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887. And Belle Vue Zoological gardens will also be rediscovered, which many in Manchester remember before its closure in 1977. All will help to shape The National Trust’s reminiscent homage to the city’s historical green space.  


The installation will be on view from April 2 until the end of October at Manchester Art Gallery on Mosley Street, Manchester.



National Trust Gardener in Residence, Sean Harkin with the help of volunteers and local historians, has researched Manchester’s former gardens, and will imaginatively conjure up the beauty and sensory elements of these gardens. He said, “The Lost Gardens will evolve over the course of the year and reflect the changes to the seasons. Plants have been selected to give the true sense of what it would have felt like in each of the gardens and we have commissioned hand painted old signs similar to the ones people would have seen at Belle Vue and The Royal Botanical Gardens.

Visitors will be amazed by the sheer scale of the installation and will be able to enjoy the sights and smells of the plants, relax amid the foliage and find themselves a world away from the hustle and bustle of today’s Manchester.”


Commenting on the installation at the gallery, Maria Balshaw, Director of Manchester City Galleries and the Whitworth, University of Manchester, said, “We are delighted to be partnering the National Trust who has produced this spectacular project, ‘The Lost Gardens of Manchester’. This exceptional installation will transform the stunning Grade 1 listed architecture of Manchester Art Gallery into a green and lush space, a place for reflection, relaxation and verdant beauty. This project fits perfectly with our programme of exhibitions which seeks to reveal the history of our city through innovative contemporary projects. It follows the hugely popular willow and spring flower installation on the Gallery railings by artist Raqib Shaw in 2013. We are indebted to the National Trust for their huge contribution and support, and in particular Sean Harkin, for his expertise and inspired vision.”



The National Trust will be aiming to connect with the Manchester public during the time ‘The Lost Gardens’ is on display at Manchester Art Gallery, by asking people to share their memories of gardens in Manchester. The conservation charity is currently working on projects in partnership with Manchester City Council and others in the city to help keep Manchester’s gardening heritage alive. ‘The Lost Gardens of Manchester’ will be a living example of Manchester’s joy of gardening whilst inspiring this tradition to continue.


Opening for Easter weekend (April 2), the gardens will evolve over the year with events running alongside, culminating in a huge display of pumpkins on October 31 (Halloween).


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