Manchester Art Gallery

Gardens, bees, honey, beer and cycling

The start of the year is when my thoughts turn to our bees and to the projects I can get involved with to ensure their continued survival and to provide forage. The honey that we harvested in autumn sold out within weeks, although our yields were low compared with 2014. A particularly wet summer meant a lot of lost foraging time. We have checked our hives this week and they seem to be healthy and strong, let’s just hope for a long hot summer.

The success of The Lost Gardens of Manchester has resulted in an award from The Royal Horticultural Society and North West in Bloom – It’s Your Neighbourhood Award, Level 5 Outstanding. The award came as a complete surprise and I am very proud to have played a part in such a positive and well received project. Its success has provided the momentum to work on further ideas and establish a legacy.

This year I am planning on extending the gardens by planting an urban orchard, the space will provide forage for bees and other pollinators while doubling as an area to relax and spend 15 minutes away from the bustle of everyday Manchester life. The benefits of urban green spaces have been documented extensively and this is an area which we are keen to promote and explore.

I am hopeful that the trees will provide fruit that can be harvested and used in some way for a series of Thursday Lates events. My interest in urban growing is also going to continue due to funding from Grow Wild, who have awarded myself and Richard Searle from Manchester City Council and a fellow bee-keeper, an award to create ‘Brew Wild’. We’ll be linking with local communities to grow produce that will be harvested to create a Manchester Beer and non alcoholic cordials. This is something we are very excited about, so after securing funding we now have a lot of hard work in front of us to actually make it happen. There will be events here at the gallery focusing on the orchard and ‘Brew Wild’ so please watch this space and our twitter and Facebook channels for information.

Although September seems a long way off and my thoughts are exploding with fruit trees and making beer, my third project of the year will see an intrepid group of cyclists make the journey from Manchester to Edinburgh. Last year’s cycle to London was such a great achievement that this year we really want to challenge ourselves! The ride will be in collaboration with Grow Wild, River of Flowers and Red Rose Forest and we’ll be stopping at destinations along the way over four days to plant flowers and trees. We’ll be promoting the benefits of trees, cycling, planting and growing, culminating in an event at the Headquarters of Grow Wild Scotland.

So a lot of work to be done on the three projects but I am sure they will bring great rewards for everyone.


John Mouncey, March 2016

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