Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The AirSpace Yarden - an update

A month or so after the launch, the Bird Yarden has grown amazingly. Thanks to a series of unseasonally warm and dry summer days, interspersed with some more familiar rainy ones, all of the plants have come on in leaps and bounds. And the signs for the birds are encouraging too, as many of the berry-producing plants, such as the Rowan tree and the white and red currants are already showing signs of fruit.

The Yarden's birds are well catered for, after the successful raffle held on Launch Day, and the ravenous Goldfinches in particular will be pleased to know that there are enough sunflower seeds to keep them going for the rest of the year.

Since the opening day, we have been concerned with planning how we can open the space up to the public, with our preferred option being that at times when the Gallery is closed, people can apply for the padlock code, to let themselves in to the Yard and enjoy the space on their own terms. We are planning a barbeque event to which we hope to invite local business holders and shopworkers to come and see the Yarden, and offer it to them as a space to have their lunches etc.

We have also entered the Yarden into Stoke-on-Trent Council's Gardening Competition. Following the success of the BCB/Stoke-on-Trent Transformation Garden at this year's Chelsea Flower Show, where it was awarded a silver medal, the council has launched a competition in which the challenge is to turn yards, garden, play grounds and open spaces into beautiful spaces filled with flowers and creativity. We think the Yarden fits the bill perfectly, and whether we are successful or not, hope that it will be another avenue to telling the City about this wonderful secluded city haven.

The AirSpace Bird Yarden - The Launch

After months of consultation, planning, designing, clearing, building and planting the Bird Yarden finally opened its doors to the public on May 4th, 2013. The weather gods were kind to us as early morning showers cleared by opening time, and improved to the extent that by the end of the day, we were basking in warm Spring sunshine, with the Yarden looking a picture.

The day was full of activities and talks.
Kate Lynch's Seed Bomb Making Workshop proved a hit, as was the Bird Painting, in which a flock of uniquely decorated wooden bird outlines formed a bespoke flock on the Gallery wall by the end of the day.

Four talks and demonstrations were scheduled, starting with Trentham Gardens' Clive Mollart, who was on hand throughout the day to solve any garden design problems brought to him by the Yarden's visitors.

Local bird enthusiast, David Tideswell gave a really engaging, animated and insightful demonstration as to how to build the perfect birdbox, littering his talk with amusing anecdotes and asides. Particularly fascinating was his choice of constituents for his nesting material holders - he fills them with moss, carpet hair, cat and dog hair, and even his own hair, which he collects after each trip to the barbers.

BBC Countryfile's Professor Chris Baines delivered the keynote speech. It was really amazing to have a conservationist and horticulturalist of Chris's standing at the gallery, especially as it was his birthday that day!

Chris is the national vice-president of the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts and built Chelsea Flower Show's first ever wildlife garden in 1985. He delivered a fascinating talk on wildlife gardening and the nature of the future, taking his audience on a journey from the basics of wildlife gardening, and how natural wildlife areas form, to how they can be incorporated into the contemporary urban situation, positing the theory that with a committed collaborative approach by all the stakeholders in a given city, successful wildlife areas can be incorporated into a city's infrastructure for the benefit of all.

After a brief break for refreshments, back out in the Yarden, the day was rounded off by "Speaking in Tongues" artist Sarah R. Key, who delivered an insightful talk into her working practices and the themes running through the show.

It was so gratifying to see a busy, engaged and appreciative audience throughout the Yarden's Launch Day, and it gave us confidence that the space can grow to become an important secluded greenspace and community space for the City.

Have a look at the slideshow of pictures from an amazing day.