What's your green worth?

Green Monthly Meet

The centre circle was redesigned and replanted several years ago by Ken Shones and is now a mature herbaceous border. It has a huge array of plants and gives a great show throughout the seasons. We would really like to keep Ken’s hard work going and keep Whitworth park looking its best.

In conjunction with the Friends of Whitworth Park we are now meeting at 10am on the first Wednesday of each month at the Centre Circle to complete various tasks throughout the park to keep it looking good for all to enjoy. monthymeet-page-001

If you are green fingered or just want to get involved in improving Whitworth Park please come and join us. All tools will be provided.

If you would like to contact me about getting involved please email me




Autumn & Awards

Well Autumn has well and truly hit us here and leaves have been the main story of the month. It feels like a never ending task to keep areas free of the leaves but with a lot of help from Volunteers, Staff and the University Landscape team we are very nearly there. Where possible I do tend to collect and store leaves for that wonderful rich leaf mould. I tend to store either in a dark and unused corner of the park or bagged in the service yard at the Whitworth. I recently checked on my stores from the last two seasons and we definitely have some good stuff to use on the beds as a mulch. You do have keep an eye on your leaf mould for weeds but in general I swear by the black stuff. When you see the fruits of your labour the year or two after all that effort in collecting and storing seems worth it.


I recently had some very good news as well. I took a group of volunteers to the Southport Convention centre for the RHS North West in Bloom Awards as I entered the Centre Circle (which I help the Friends of Whitworth Park manage) and the Whitworth’s gardens into the annual awards and i am very please to say the the Centre Circle won a Level 4 Thriving  & the Whitworth’s Gardens won a Level 5 Outstanding. 

The awards focus on three themes

  • Horticultural Excellence
  • Community Involvement
  • Environmental Friendliness


Bit of a blurb below from the NW in Bloom website

North West in Bloom is the voluntary regional organisation that administers the Britain in Bloom competition in Lancashire, Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside, and is one of the 18 regions and Nations that comprise Britain in Bloom.

Britain in Bloom is one of the most effective, and longest running environmental competitions in the United Kingdom and each year it grows in size and importance and involves more people, groups and organisations within the community.

The aim of the competition is to encourage the improvement of our surroundings through the imaginative use of trees, shrubs, flowers and landscaping. It also aims to achieve a litter free and sustainable environment.


If you would like to get involved in the Park  you can get in touch with the Friends of Whitworth Park through there website https://friendsofwhitworthpark.org.uk

If you would like to Get involved at the Whitworth you can get in touch with us here http://www.whitworth.manchester.ac.uk/about/joinus/volunteer/






This gallery contains 7 photos.

The Alex Bernstein Garden was designed by Chelsea Flower Show Gold winner Sarah Price and kindly sponsored by the Granada Foundation as a memorial garden for Sir Alex Bernstein.   The garden was a challenging build in a unused area of the gallery grounds. There were old trees to deal with and poor ground to […]


So what is a Cultural Park-Keeper? 
Now, that is a good question and the next three years (thanks to funding from Esmee Fairbairn Foundation) gives us the opportunity to find out. 
My name is Francine Hayfron and last summer as I came across the job advertisement for this post, my heart literally skipped a beat! 
For the past few years I had been working for an Arts & Wellbeing charitable organisation based in Salford that would use artistic mediums including horticulture, to help people that are experiencing emotional difficulties and those that feel isolated or excluded from their communities due to a decline in their mental health.  It was here that I learnt to really appreciate how engaging with the outdoors can have an impact and help to improve a person’s mental health.  Job opportunities like this rarely present themselves (especially here in Manchester), so I knew that the role of the Cultural Park-Keeper was something that I wanted to get my teeth into!
I’ll be working indoors and out, mostly in the park, reaching new audiences and people – park users and local communities.  I will be working closely with the gallery staff, the Friends of Whitworth Park and other external agencies to develop new ways of working with and engaging the communities that surround us.  As well as developing large-scale family friendly events in the park (especially in the summer), one of the upcoming highlights will be the launch of a new Horticultural Wellbeing programme later this year.  This will highlight the benefits of using art, gardening and horticulture to aid mental health and promote wellbeing.
Above all, this role will allow us to create fresh and exciting activities and partnerships with a focus on the great outdoors and natural world in an urban context.
So, I will not be found telling people to “keep off the grass” or pruning the herbaceous borders  but I most certainly will be exploring how to bring nature and culture together.
The photo shows Francine with Patrick Osborn, the Gallery’s new Landscape and Sustainability Technician. We’ll hear from Patrick soon! 

One of the improvements achieved by the Friends of Whitworth Park during the last year has been the reintroduction of a path that once led from the centre of the Park towards the Denmark Road gate. This will be a great way to enter the Park next Spring when it will be the perfect place to enjoy lots of new flowers. 
Last week, a donation of bulbs by Neighbourhood Services enabled the Friends to organise the planting of over 2500 daffodils, bluebells and snowdrops near to the Gallery end of this path.  So on a beautiful early November morning,  11 volunteers, raised from Gallery staff and the new Whitworth Art Gardeners (a team of green fingered volunteers), worked to get the bulbs into the remarkably hard ground. One of the Whitworth staff volunteers, Leanne Lightfoot, says: 
“This was my second time helping out in Whitworth Park and I love the chance to get out in the fresh air and see how both the park and the new Whitworth are progressing. Being based at the Museum during the redevelopment means I’m looking forward to returning to the new Whitworth just in time to see the snowdrops flowering!”
This work, along with the imminent installation of 4 new benches and bins and further planting will, once the Gallery’s extension is complete , make an attractive connection between the new Art Garden, Orchard and importantly, new entrance, and the Centre Circle, overlooked by the “Café in the trees”.

Vote Now!

Imagine what a difference £120,000 worth of wild flowers will make to Everton Park in Liverpool and Hulme and Moss Side in Manchester!

Well…you can help make it happen by voting here http://vote.growwilduk.com/#site/twocities

If this project gets the highest number of votes, teams at Everton Park in Liverpool and Hulme and Moss Side in Manchester will transform prominent spaces into lovely wild flower havens to connect the two historically-divided cities.

Sarah Sanders from our Visitor Team explains the importance of Whitworth Park, the lovely green space that surrounds the Whitworth


My name is Sarah and I’ve been working at the Whitworth for 6 years in the Visitor Team. The best part of my job is connecting people to the gallery, our history, collections and our exciting redevelopment. So whist we’ve been closed, I’ve taken the opportunity to devise an outdoor tour looking at the gallery from Whitworth Park. The tour takes people on a stroll through the park, showing views of our beautiful gallery and looking at our outdoor sculptures. Visitors tell me they enjoy finding out about the architecture of the building and “learning about all the changes through time”. Interestingly, the late 19th Century red iconic brick building we admire, evolved from a converted family home, called Grove House…but there’s more about that on the tour!

The park used to hold a bandstand, lake, observatory and many more paths and flowerbeds which encouraged people to promenade to improve their health. Recently our park is being revived by the fantastic work of Friends of Whitworth Park, and I have been pointing out their work and also taking people onto the new paths they have installed, demonstrating how they connect the new extension to the park. Visitors enjoy ”seeing the planting by the friends group” particularly the work at Central Circle and can see how this work contributes towards the bio-diversity of the park as well as the plans for the new wild flower planting around the Art Garden and Orchard, and also the green roofs. Not to mention how the sustainable technology will help us reduce our carbon footprint by 10%.

It is important that the tours are engaging and accessible so when one of our visitors wrote to me saying she enjoyed “learning & feeling included in the process of the development by finding out what’s going on, why, when & how” I was very pleased that the tours have given people insight into what we are doing and made them feel part of this work.

The next tours will be running on Thursday 2nd October (12.15-1pm) and Saturday 4th October (2-3pm). If you would like to join the Visitor Team on one of these tours, please send us an email and we will book you on.


The picture here shows my colleague Lawrence, talking about The Whitworth Park Obelisk by Cyprien Gaillard, just one of the things you’ll hear about on the tour.


If you’re passing Manchester Art Gallery in the city centre you’ll see that an orchard has appeared! The orchard opened last week to celebrate the first ever River of Flowers Manchester. The Crab Apple (Malus sylvestris) trees look great at the front of the building and visitors have been planting an all-white bee pasture under the trees, the native wildflowers, such as Queen Anne’s Lace and Oxeye Daisy, representing the blank whiteness of a painter’s canvas.

The instant orchard with its wild understorey will introduce new floral forage for bees and other pollinators in the city centre. It will remain outside the Manchester Art Gallery, which already sports beehives and a wildflower garden on its roof, for a couple of months after which the trees and wildflowers will migrate to permanent growing spaces in Moss Side and Levenshulme provided by community groups and other organisations. These include the Friends of Platt Fields Park and Whitworth Park, Moss Cider Project, Anchor Café, Moss Gardens, Incredible Edible Levenshulme and Friends of the Fallowfield Loop.

River of Flowers works with communities in different cities to create trails or ‘rivers’ of wildflower forage and homes for bees, butterflies and other pollinators in the urban landscape. The River of Flowers Manchester is sponsored by Artists Project Earth, a collective of artists, scientists, journalists, environmentalists, film makers and authors, who believe passionately in raising awareness about climate change, and Grow Wild, a dynamic £10.5m mass participation programme, led by Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew to bring people and communities together to inspire transformations of unloved urban spaces, gardens and windowsills with nature into wildlife-friendly wild flower patches.

For more information on the Manchester Art Gallery project please contact John Mouncey on j.mouncey1


The Museum’s hive has had a busy few days, with reported sighting of swarming bees enveloping the university.

Our colony is in its second year on the roof of the Rutherford building. Last year was a slow year but this spring they have come into their own with the queen being very busy laying eggs and the workers busily making honey.

As a result things have been getting a bit hot and cramped in the hive and it is this which we think has caused the activity over the last few days.

The bees have been spilling and out and filling the skies around the psychology building. We can’t confirm whether there has been a swarm until we go in next Tuesday but if not they could very well go soon.

A swarm is a completely natural occurrence for bees and allows for new colonies to be formed. A swarm usually occurs in spring and is when the old queen leaves the hive with around 60% of the worker bees. Swarms are not particularly a great threat to humans as when leaving the hive, the bees gorge on honey in order to sustain themselves until they have set up home somewhere else. This makes them very docile and they gather together around their queen sending out scouts to fine a new home.

If they have swarmed that means a new queen will have been created and we just hope she is as healthy and as productive as the old queen.

To make life better in the hive have added another box called a super on top with the hope of giving them more air flow and space and are considering getting a new hive so we can divide the colony.

Let’s hope these provisions settles things down in the hive and allow the bees to focus on making us some delicious honey again.


You could say the bee lovers of Manchester swarmed into Manchester Museum this morning for the first in what we hope will be a series of event to discuss the development of a more joined up strategy for Greater Manchester’s urban bees. The fact that so many people are training as bee-keepers and siting hives in the most unusual of places is fantastic for the bee population – but might just prove too enthusiastic. The problem is that bees don’t really like to fly too far from the hive to collect pollen – and Manchester just doesn’t have enough green space to provide them with places to forage. The more bees we have, the more plants we need to help feed them!

That’s where the idea of a River of Flowers comes in. Some of the great cities of the world have been creating ‘roads for bees’ and Kathryn Lwin, Founder Director of London’s River of Flowers was on hand at this morning’s meeting to provide some inspiration. When Kathryn founded the London scheme (which you can find more about here: http://www.riverofflowers.org/) she knew hardly anything about bees. She certainly knows plenty about bees now – and was generous in sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm.

For two hours a room full of beekeepers, building managers and bee enthusiasts, discussed how we can make Manchester a more bee-friendly city. Lots of ideas for hive sites, forage sites, communication and education came out of round-table discussions. It was clear that there is enough enthusiasm to make something really great happen and The University of Manchester’s Sustainability Team , together with a whole host of partners, will be looking at how we can take forward the ideas from the meeting.

Anyone interested in joining the ongoing discussion should contact Emma Gardner, Head of Environmental Sustainability at the University of Manchester on emma.l.gardner