The Lost Gardens Begins

Evening Walk Gets Garden Festival Anniversary Celebrations Off To Magical Start

Sean Dissington || September 17th

There are some things that you accept as an adult, part of the bargain that you unconsciously make with the universe is that there are some things you may never do again. Wonder, as in the wonder that a child feels when they look at the world is easily lost in a world of work, and pensions and phone bills, and with it the acceptance of the extraordinary as commonplace and the lack of prejudice to any situation.

I was at Festival Park last night and it was wonderful, it was joyful and it was surreal.

The lost gardens of Stoke-on-Trent is a celebration of the National Garden Festival of 1986, a programme which paid for the cleanup, landscaping and modelling of hundreds of acres of industrial land turning it into a huge garden site within which lay the infrastructure for a business and retail space.

Last night's walk was a journey over the woodland ridge, to the peak of the Festival Park site. Walking from dusk to dark through the site we were guided through the paths and met extraordinary characters such as the ladies who showed us where the peak of the site stood, with Anthony Gormley's Stoke made sculpture staring down across the valley. As much as anything the mature woodland that now covers the site is an indicator of how nature, given the chance, will reclaim her spaces. Onto night time bee keeping and ceramic leaves, plant pots and a glowing neon garden.

The lost gardens is a truly exhilarating experience that allows us to consider not only what discovering spaces means, but also how, in a city with as many green spaces as Stoke-on-Trent, we can enjoy them fully.

The lost gardens has left me looking at everything a little differently this morning, as well as smiling about the truly surreal nature of last night.