The Galaxy Garden – Science and Design

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I arrived here at Jodrell in 2011, just after the completion of the UK’s first Galaxy Garden designed by TV gardener Chris Beardshaw. In conversations with Chris I learnt how he’d worked in collaboration with Professor Tim O’Brien to create a garden that would show the journey of our Universe from the Big Bang 14 billion years ago to our present day Solar System.

His design incorporated seven circular gardens, enclosed in hornbeam hedging, interlinked by Willow galaxy spirals in the lawn which, despite being a dizzying challenge to mow, create a fun maze for our visitors to explore.

Each of the seven gardens has been designed to interpret major phases in the development of our Universe, using perennial plants and shrubs to represent different elements. Evergreen clipped balls depict protons and electrons coming together in the Creation of the Lightest Elements garden, whilst a series of expanding circles of grasses represent the fading glow of Cosmic Microwave Background radiation.

There’s a raised landform in the centre of the garden with a wild flower meadow area which has been interesting to see develop over the first 3 years. It’s been a fantastic year for our butterflies, moths and bees as the nettles and thistles took over but we’ve decided to take advice from North West wildflower experts at Landlife and will be reseeding this autumn with a beautiful native mix of flowers that will provide more variety for all our wildlife (and less stingers around the knees…)

Becky Burns
Head of Gardens and Interpretation
Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre