In Top5IdeasDiscover

Over to UnfoldTheDay for her top 5 hidden green spaces in the city: 

For those of you who might have grown up, as I did, somewhere where green space was rather in abundance, or be visiting from a place where the company of grass is taken very much for granted, it can prove quite the culture shock navigating a city that seems, at first glance, to be distinctly lacking. Which is where I (and the results of all my city wanders!) come in, having done all the hard, ‘Where is the grass?!’ searching for you!

Whether you’re looking for somewhere to clear mind during a lunch break, to rest weary feet after a busy day spent pounding pavements, or to slump in some shade on a rare Mancunian sunshine-y day, I bring you these 5 green dotted-about-the-city spots that offer the best-of opportunities to relax, unwind, and forget that the hustle and bustle of Manchester streets lies just beyond stretched-out-in-front-of-you toes!

1) St. Michael's Flags and Angel Meadow Park – NOMA

Awarded a National Lottery Heritage grant in 1999 in aid of regenerating the then-neglected site, St Michael’s Flags and Angel Meadow Park (so named for the flagstones that were laid over Meadows’ Victorian burial ground) sits northeast of the centre, in the shadow of One Angel Square.

An almost blink-and-you’ll-miss-it spot that gifts visitors’ low-walled-off space within which to picnic, sunbathe, or dog walk to your (shaded-by-trees) heart’s content, it’s a pretty addition to the Quarter’s built-up area, and a great stop-off for history buffs wanting to have a nose at the site of a once-was slum area dubbed by Friedrich Engels as ‘hell on earth’!

2) Parsonage Gardens - Deansgate

A space first made reference to in 1066, and once cultivated to provide food to its 15th century St Mary’s collegiate church, this patch of land has seen little change since the demolishment of its Parsonage House in 1897. A small yet perfectly cherish-able plot, Parsonage Gardens is surrounded by streets that bear nod-to names of the then-Church’s ownership of the land, and nowadays is framed by benches flocked-to by those escaping the busy-ness of neighbouring Deansgate.

3) St. John’s Gardens - Castlefield

Once the site of St. John’s Church and Graveyard (demolished, buried over, and topped with a garden and now-defunct children’s playground in the 30’s), St. John’s Gardens is now home to the award-winning crab-apple orchard ‘A Stitch In Time Saves Nine’, of whose purpose to provide concrete-jungle relief has proved most successful in its grown-into presence.

With something of a tropical oasis about its offering, the gardens house clumps of whisk-you-away palm trees sat side-by-side with blooms of a more traditional leaning, as well as Britain’s most endangered native tree, The Black (or, Manchester) Poplar, its location in the outer-stretches of Castlefield watched over by Manchester’s Beetham Tower, crafting a most striking contrast between urban and natural life.

4) Sackville Gardens - Canal Street 

Commemorating the memories of those we’ve lost with its Transgender Remembrance Memorial and Gardens, The Beacon of Hope light sculpture incorporating The Tree of Life, and the bronze, sat-on-bench Alan Turing statue, Sackville Gardens is a spot that is as much about taking time to contemplate, as it is about taking time out for yourself.

Accompanied by the Rochdale Canal waters that run alongside the bustling Canal Street, its city centre location is a great stop-off point for those visitors wanting to pay respects in addition to appreciating some of Manchester’s finest architecture, including the Godlee Observatory-topped Sackville Building, before heading back on their way.

5) Whitworth Park – Oxford Road

Opened in 1890, Whitworth Park boasts some 18 acres of swept-through-with-trees green space (including the steel ‘ghost tree’ sculpted by Anya Gallaccio, created in ode from an architectural scan of a London Plane tree that was removed after its death from natural causes), dotted with pathways lined with wildflowers, and gardens maintained in encouragement of bio-diversity, to raise awareness of wildlife, and nature, and the importance of such spaces, alongside active promotion of pollinators (including a rooftop apiary!). There’s even a playpark for the kiddos (and young at heart!) and, should you fancy a side of culture, or slice of cake, after all that fresh air, Whitworth Gallery is nestled into the landscape, and has a café that affords great above-the-Park views!

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