University of Bristol: University garden declared as one of UK’s top green spaces

The Royal Fort Gardens, situated in the heart of the main University of Bristol campus received the prestigious internationally accredited Green Flag Award, now in its 26th year.

Previously sculptured by renowned 18th century ‘English Landscape’ designer Humphrey Repton, the views of Bristol Docks have disappeared, but the original garden still retains a wide rolling feel and many quiet and secluded garden areas, as well as a pond, floral borders, and fine trees, many with labels and QR codes which lead to an online tree map, with fascinating tree facts.

Royal Fort Garden began life as a Civil War fortification created to defend the city in the 17th century. It’s now a popular recreational spot, with the grand Royal Fort House providing a stunning backdrop to the gardens which feature popular pieces of public art alongside a pond, trees and biodiverse habitats.

The gardens host a number of art works, including ‘Follow Me’ (by Jeppe Hein), an interactive mirror maze, the immersive ‘Hollow’ (by Katie Paterson), which brings together 10,000 unique tree species, and last year, a new sculpture of Henrietta Lacks (by Helen Wilson-Roe), the first permanent statue of a Black women in a UK public space.

The mirror maze called ‘Follow Me’ has proved a popular attraction with students, staff and visitors. It was designed by internationally recognised artist Jeppe Hein to mark the University’s centenary in 2009.

Another addition is ‘Hollow’ – an intricate structure, described as a modernist grotto, made from 10,000 wood samples collected from across the world. It was created by Katie Paterson, made in collaboration with architects Zeller & Moye, and unveiled in 2016.

Royal Fort Garden also features a wildflower meadow which was planted as part of the ‘My Wild University’ project to help boost the number of pollinators.

Alan Stealey, Head of External Estates, said: “I am immensely proud of the wonderful Gardens and Grounds staff and the way they maintain, not just the Royal Fort gardens, but all the university estates.

“The Green Flag is awarded in acknowledgment of horticultural and environmental standards as well as the contribution that university sites make to Bristol’s ‘Green Infrastructure’, wellbeing, and ‘Biodiversity Net Gain’. This acknowledgement of sustainability credentials extends to North Somerset sites, and the Botanic Garden’s contribution to the Global Strategy on Plant Conservation.”

Commenting on the news that the Royal Fort Gardens has met the Green Flag Award standard, Keep Britain Tidy’s Accreditation Manager Paul Todd said: “I would like to congratulate everyone involved in making Royal Fort Gardens worthy of a Green Flag Award. The Royal Fort Gardens is a vital green space for the community in Bristol. This award is testament to all the hard work of staff and volunteers, who do so much to ensure that it maintains the high standards demanded by the Green Flag Award.”

The Green Flag Award scheme, managed by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy under licence from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, recognises and rewards well-managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for the management of green spaces across the United Kingdom and around the world.

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