Pop-up Gardens

Guerilla Meadow Old Trafford 2012

At our last couple of meetings, either side of New Year, we explored several sites in Old Trafford where potentially we could set up a community garden. Whilst we wait to find out about land access on those sites we’ve been exploring a temporary option – a Pop Up community garden space. We imagine this garden could pop up pretty much anywhere in Old Trafford to get people curious and even as excited as we are about growing food together.

We’ve been inspired by some temporary garden spaces that have popped up around the country. Here are just a few…

Octavia’s Orchard at London’s Southbank

On a visit to london last summer, we spotted, Octavia’s Orchard, outside the Southbank Centre. It was set up as part of the Festival of Neighbourhood. An orchard on wheels is a fantastic idea – you can create a forest space in the heart of a city right on top of the concrete. We can’t mention Octavia’s Orchard without mentioning Octavia.

Octavia Hill by Sargent

This pop-up orchard is named after Octavia Hill, a social reformer and one of the founders of the National Trust. Not only was she involved in the development of social housing but she also campaigned against development on woodlands and was passionate about having open spaces for non-privileged people to enjoy nature. It would be amazing to bring a little bit of Octavia’s legacy to Old Trafford! And, in the spirit of Octavia, each tree was donated to a local housing estate at the end of the Festival.

Closer to home, every year, the Dig The City Festival features temporary gardens and last year, this urban garden festival featured a pop up forest in the heart of Manchester. The previous year, a living street (move over cars!) and veg boxes grown by community groups and Hulme Garden Centre had a pop up space. We really liked this pop up dreamscape garden which was eventually donated to the Northern Quarter Greening Group, a residents’ group who popped up some growboxes in the Piccadilly Basin car park.

Pop up spaces also need food & refreshments. If you’ve ever been to Manchester Food and Drink Festival or Manchester International Festival, Ginger’s mobile Ice Cream van is never far from Albert Square, the festival hub.


In addition to the obvious pop up food stalls, cooking stalls and a pop up bakery, maybe we can learn from Pop Up cinemas? One cinema we particularly like is the Edible Cinema, where food has been specially prepared to match the film being screened. You have to eat the food when there’s a reference to it in the movie – the smell and taste of the food enhances the viewing experience.

Guerilla Gardening

Guerilla Meadow Old Trafford 2012

Guerilla Meadow Old Trafford 2012

Guerilla Gardening is a great way to brighten up a neighbourhood. Maybe you noticed the Guerilla Meadow that popped up in Old Trafford a while back? Guerilla Gardening involves scattering some seeds and seeing what grows. These pop up seed bomb vending machines might come in handy.

Greenaid Seedbomb Vending Machine


We have lots of problems with flytipping (indeed we meet regularly to discuss this) – a great way to combat this could be to furnish a pop-up garden with pop-up furniture made from trash.

Mind the Plant

Even the plant pots could be made from recycled plastic.

It’s all in the making…

Still on the theme of making maybe Fablab a creative up for designing and making stuff, including 3D printing, could help us to gain the skills to design pop up board games like connect four, backgammon or Mancala (apparently the oldest board game in the world).

A great example of a pop game is petanque or boules. Here’s one that popped up alongside the the river Seine in Paris…


Heal thyself

The Physics Garden, involving nearly 200 volunteers, Wayward Plants transformed a derelict site in Southwark, SE1 into a pop-up garden shaped by the hospital and pharmacy, with a focus on medicinal plants and herbs that heal. The plants have now been distributed in the community.

The Physics Garden is inspired by the Chelsea Physic Garden, founded in 1673, which again is a medicinal garden and last year hosted a living botanical bar called the Pop Up Gin Garden.

Over in Todmorden, Incredible Edible is a project that has pretty much taken over the town, not only providing fruit and veg that can be eaten outside the local hospital, police station and in the streets but they have designed a plant route, not just for us humans but for bees too.

But these are just a few thoughts that we discussed. If you want to share yours, do comment in the comments below or better still come along to the next meeting on:

Tuesday February 4th 2014 at Old Trafford Community Centre, Shrewsbury Street, Old Trafford



One thought on “Pop-up Gardens

  1. I am truly loving this article full of unique gardens and methods. I am really interested in the Guerilla gardening. Thank you so much for sharing!

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