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 to the project continued. Dedicating an area for silent visiting is proving to be particularly popular in these chaotic times. There’s nothing quite like the soothing sights and sounds of nature for taking us beyond the latest ‘shouty’ news headlines.
Early in the year, Logan Botanic Garden became the second garden in Scotland to take part. It has been joined very recently by Dawyck Botanic Garden. It was good to welcome NT Tintinhull (Somerset), Waddesdon Manor (Buckinghamshire) and NT Trengwainton, 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 Bickley Hall Farm headquarters so that staff can also benefit from some reflective time.
Some gardens choose to take a break from their Silent Space during school holidays so I was delighted to hear that NT Bodnant would be including their space in an Easter trail for families. The feedback from staff and visitors was wonderful – some children naming the Silent Space as their favourite part of the trail. Why do we underestimate them? Given the opportunity they are usually more observant and in tune with nature than adults.
In May there was an invitation to set up a Silent Space in the pretty garden at British Medical Association House in London. The BMA library was running an event during Mental Health Awareness week and offering staff and students a variety of relaxing activities.
Looking back at summer 2018, it’s difficult to believe that we had anything but non-stop sunshine. Unfortunately, the Silent Space ran on the only unexpectedly cold and windy day. None of us had dressed for the weather and only a few hardy types spent much time in the Silent Space. Nevertheless, it was a chance to discuss the benefits of spending quite time in a green place with the medical students – our future doctors.
As a not-for-profit project that operates without funding, Silent Space runs in areas of gardens that are already planted and maintained. This avoids creating extra work for busy garden staff. Sometimes it pays to be flexible. What a delight to be contacted by three students studying at the Royal Botanical Gardens Edinburgh (RBGE) who were 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. They’ll be keeping us up to date with their progress as they work towards their April deadline. After it’s completed, the area could become another Silent Space – the fourth in Scotland.
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. This year I will apply for Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) status. More news in a few months.
Liz Ware Founder and Coordinator of Silent Space. https://silentspace.org.uk/
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