Silent Space continues to grow in ways I could never have imagined when I first approached a couple of head gardeners with the idea in 2016. It’s too early to share details of the exciting developments that lie ahead in 2019 but here’s a quick update on some of last year’s happenings.
During 2018, the steady trickle of gardens signing up continued. Dedicating an area for silent visiting seems to be particularly helpful in these chaotic times. There’s nothing quite like the soothing sights and sounds of nature for taking us beyond the latest ‘shouty’ headlines
Logan Botanic Garden near Stranraer became the second garden in Scotland to take part. In England, NT Tintinhull and Waddesdon Manor joined the project in Somerset and Buckinghamshire respectively, while NT Trengwainton, became the third Silent Space in Cornwall.
In Cumbria, Lowther Castle and Garden set up their Silent Space in the atmospheric Jack Croft area of the garden. Cheshire Wildlife Trust decided to run theirs at their Bickley Hall Farm headquarters so that staff can also benefit from some reflective time.
Some gardens take a break from their Silent Space during school holidays so there was great excitement when NT Bodnant decided to include their Silent Space as an activity in an Easter trail for families. The feedback from staff and visitors was wonderful - some children naming time in the Silent Space as their favourite activity. We underestimate them. Given the chance they are usually far more observant and in tune with nature than adults.
In May there was an invitation to set up a Silent Space for a day in the pretty garden at British Medical Association House in London. The BMA library was running an event during Mental Health Awareness Week and was offering staff and students a variety of mindful and relaxing activities.
Looking back at summer 2018 it’s difficult to believe that we had anything but non-stop sunshine but the Silent Space ran on an unexpectedly cold and windy day. Only a few hardy types spent much time in the Silent Space. Nevertheless, it was a chance to spread awareness of the project and to discuss the benefits of spending quiet time in a green place with the medical students – our future doctors.
As a not-for-profit project that operates without funding, Silent Space avoids creating work for busy garden teams by using areas that are already planted and maintained. Sometimes it pays to be flexible. What a delight to be contacted by three students studying at the Royal Botanical Gardens Edinburgh (RBGE) keen to discuss a different approach.
As part of their BSc Horticulture with Plantsmanship, they’d been assigned the planning and planting of a little-used area of woodland garden near Inverleith House – a future Silent Space for RBGE. They’ll be keeping us up to date with their progress as they work towards their April deadline.
One of the joys of Silent Space has been its simplicity. At the start of 2019 it has grown to the point where a more formal structure could be a help rather than a hindrance. During 2019, I will apply for Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO)status.
Finally, thank you from Silent Space to Incredible Edible for their on-line statement about taking action. It’s been an inspiration:
‘Don’t wait for permission or funding, just do something today, however small and the result will grow’. (incredibleedible.org.uk)
Founder and Coordinator of Silent Space
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