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Volunteers have given Liverpool’s Festival Gardens a new lease of life

8 months ago

Volunteers have given Liverpool’s Festival Gardens a new lease of life

Festival Gardens is looking good thanks for a team of volunteers who have spent months giving the park area a face-lift.

A group of volunteers have spent the past five months giving Liverpool’s Festival Gardens a new lease of life, restoring damaged and vandalised features and planting ready for spring.

The Friends of Festival Gardens was formed in July this year with a handful of dedicated enthusiasts determined to save the once-loved site from years of neglect.

Now the group has more than 200 members and it has successfully returned much of the space to its former glory, including the Chinese pagoda and Moon Wall which were landmarks when it first opened as part of the International Garden Festival back in 1984.

Kate Parry, one of the founders of the group, says hundreds of hours of weeding, cutting back and repair work are paying off as the gardens’ natural beauty reappears.

Friends of Festival Gardens - The guide Liverpool
The repainted azumaya in the Japanese garden

She says: “We started by giving the planting that was done before more of a chance. There are lots of rhododendrons, azaleas, and hydrangeas around the Japanese garden that were being choked by brambles and ivy that had been left to overgrow.

“There’s a lovely pathway that’s beautiful in the springtime, leading from the main entrance to the Japanese garden, which has got lots of flowering cherry blossom on both sides as well as hydrangeas. We’ve been trying to make sure that will look really good in April once the blossom is out and then later on you’ll get the rhododendrons and hydrangeas coming through.

“The brambles and the ivy had just taken over and spread so much, but the plants are still there, you can still see the flower heads, so we’ve just been freeing them all so they can bloom again.”

Kate says it hasn’t all been gardening work, there has been some necessary repairs to the pagodas, Moon Wall and decked areas too.

“We’ve painted the azumaya, which is the pavilion in the Japanese garden, and we’ve repainted both sides of the Moon Wall in its original white, with black brickwork and grey circle. It looks how everyone remembers it to look again now whereas before it was so overgrown you could hardly notice it and there was lots of graffiti on it as well.

“We’ve also worked on the big pagoda in the Chinese garden and one of the volunteers fixed some of the decking where the wood had been burnt in a few places.”

Festival Gardens
The repainted Moon Wall

The Friends of Festival Gardens group has partnered with Good Gym Liverpool to clear stone and wooden steps in the gardens and it’s also been collaborating with council teams on an overall improvement plan.

“The council is now working one day a week cutting back vegetation and sorting out trees, and they’ve committed to that during the winter, starting at the Prom entrance,” adds Kate.

Meeting at least once a week, the volunteers intend to keep going through the colder months to have everything ready for spring.

“This is actually the best time to cut away brambles and ivy so we’re hoping to have cleared a lot by February and then go into pruning and planting. We’re also looking at getting rid of all the overgrowth on the big boulders by the main entrance because they were used for sitting on and you were able to see over to the Chinese pavilion. 

“There’s an awful lot of hours gone into getting it this far, but things are definitely progressing and we are gradually adding volunteers, so hopefully the more people can see what’s happening then even more will get involved.

“By spring people will be able to come back and notice a big difference and we know from the feedback we get from everyone passing by that they really do appreciate it.

“Our main aim is to bring it back to being a garden rather than just somewhere to pass through and once we’re through all the winter work, we can start to think about how we can use the gardens for events and activities again like it used to be.”

Follow The Friend of Festival Gardens Group on Facebook HERE.

Get the latest for Liverpool HERE.

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