Bowling green transformed into garden fit for King

time:2023-06-02 15:32:34source:BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation) author:Press center9

As the UK prepares to mark the Coronation of King Charles III, a coronation garden in Belfast will be unveiled.

The monarch's passion has inspired the transformation of a bowling green on the shores of Belfast Lough.

In the garden many of the species are native, peat-free and grown locally to reflect the King's interests in ecology and the environment.

Award-winning garden designer Diarmuid Gavin has designed the space.

"We have the most incredible environment here," he said.

"We're just beside Belfast Lough and the whole borough is bordered by Belfast Lough and Lough Neagh and these are amazing assets when it comes to growing plants.

"But we want to reflect first of all the King's interests, and he's always been interested in native wildflower meadows. So that's exactly what we're putting in here."

Visitors to the garden will be greeted by the wildflower meadow as they come in. Then, they can scale a planted pavilion for a different perspective on the garden.

And every 15 minutes it will quite literally come to life, with music playing, trees twirling and a two-metre diameter mirror ball spinning.

It will be a far cry from how the space used to be.

"It was a bowling green, a lawn great for people playing games, but not very good for the environment," said Diarmuid.

"So this will be teeming with life. It'll bring moths which are pollinators at night and during the day, butterflies and bees and all sorts of insects. So it's hugely important we have that."

The planting also includes pear and fig trees for the café.

The local community and students from the Greenmount campus of the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (Cafre) have been helping to plant the garden, much to the delight of Holly Matthews who is on a horticulture course.

"Oh, it's wonderful," she said.

"Whenever people will see it in the garden and see it in situ, they come away with ideas and wee plans that they can put it into their own gardens, and I think it's really nice just to see it all working together.

"There's a whole pile of native wildflowers and native plants and all going in, and it's going to give such a boost to the local biodiversity in the area."

Biodiversity is the broad term for all the organisms living in an area - from flora and fauna to fungi and micro-organisms like bacteria.

In Northern Ireland, almost 600 species are on a priority list because of the decline they have experienced.

Focusing on biodiversity, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council is becoming a Botanical Borough and the director of community planning, Ursula Fay, said the coronation garden would be the first step.

"Our parks and green spaces are amazing, amazing assets for our community. And we are really committed to invest in them and investing in the future of the residents of this borough, particularly our young residents," she said.

"So we want to create a botanical garden with no boundaries and no confines across our borough.

"Our verges, our roundabouts, our parks and open spaces will be part of our Botanical Borough."

The garden will be open for a sneak peek on the weekend of the coronation, officially opening later in the month.

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