Since it was installed in 2012, over 1 million visitors have passed through our doors, many of them exploring the grounds and delighting at the Galaxy Garden’s unique depiction of the development of our universe.
Now however, as we embark on our next chapter and look forward to our National Lottery supported First Light Project, its time to say thanks and farewell to this wonderful garden. Over the next few months the garden is to be carefully removed, with plants transported to other parts of the grounds or shared amongst our staff and volunteers, in order to make way for the stunning new First Light Pavilion. The new building, which will sit discreetly within in its beautiful green surroundings, will provide us with a state-of-the-art facility in which to communicate the inspiring heritage of Jodrell Bank.
The Galaxy Garden was made up of seven interlinked spaces each communicating major milestones in the history of the universe, from the pin prick of the Big Bang, through the birth and death of stars and planets, to an impression of our own solar system.
Glowing stars, supernovas and clumps of dark matter were represented by a kaleidoscope of herbaceous perennials whilst radio waves, planetary dust, comets and space debris were replicated with airy grasses. Colliding protons and neutrons were recreated with clipped box balls and the willow spiral galaxy mazes provided hours of entertainment for children and adults alike as they travelled through time between the gardens.
The garden successfully drew in plant lovers of all ages and introduced to them to the fascinating science of Jodrell Bank whilst they were here. And in the same way, it served to encourage those already interested in science to venture into the gardens and arboretum, discovering the extensive tree collection created by Sir Bernard Lovell.
It also played host to special Science Shows and Garden Tours over the summer months, provided a stop on our Bee Backpack trail, and offered our Garden Volunteers the chance to help maintain it, learning new knowledge and skills as they did so. Meanwhile, the Willow spiral galaxies have given us thousands of beautifully coloured stems which we harvested each year for creative family activities during school holidays.
The Galaxy Garden has also offered a welcome respite from the buzz of bluedot, as well as a perfect backdrop for an episode of BBC Radio 4’s Gardener’s Question Time, broadcast on Easter Sunday 2013 and reaching over 2 million listeners around the world.
We are hugely grateful to Chris Beardshaw and his landscaping team for their work and dedication and to the North West Development Agency (NWDA) and the European Regional Development Fund for supporting us in creating this much loved garden. We look forward to exciting times ahead as we enter a new era for the Discovery Centre.