Birmingham to bloom into ‘magical’ garden with 11-metre trees

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The Guardian

Birmingham city centre will be transformed into a “garden of magical proportions” next month as part of a celebration of cultural diversity in the UK through horticulture.

Eleven-metre architectural trees will take over Victoria Square, which will also be filled with thousands of plants grown by more than 1,000 local people.

Angie Bual, the creative director of the arts group Trigger Collective, which is creating the temporary garden, called PoliNations, said it was inspired by the fact that more than 80% of plants in UK city gardens come from overseas.

“I’ve got a horse chestnut tree at the bottom of my garden that’s been there for hundreds of years, and that’s from Turkey. And I’ve also got loads of roses in my garden from Asia,” she said.

“[PoliNations] is to help us remember people have come here for hundreds and thousands of years, from different places and for different reasons.”

Daily activity on the site will include workshops and sensory experiences. Photograph: Thiss, Carl Robertshaw

Bual said the garden would highlight stories of migration by plants and humans, and would “use the vibrancy of plant life as a metaphor to understand why we’re multicultural”.

The garden will host a free 17-day programme of events including a poetry festival in partnership with BBC Contains Strong Language and a Ballistic Seed Party led by queer, south Asian, African and Caribbean artists from the West Midlands.

“A ballistic seed is when a flower opens out the end of its life and the seeds pop out, like a dandelion clock,” she said. “So you’ll see exploding colour and it’s going to be super playful.

“This is going to be the first time you’re going to see Caribbean carnival, Holi, Chinese dragons, Pride all mixed up, because that’s who we are today.”

PoliNations runs from 2-18 September as part of the Birmingham 2022 festival, a £12m six-month cultural programme to wrap around the Commonwealth Games hosted by the city this year.

Yshee Black (centre) and members of Saheli Hub, Kinmos, Czech and Slovak Club, and Colmore junior school. Photograph: Katja Ogrin

“We’re really proud to be coming after an amazing Commonwealth adventure but we’re thinking differently about the Commonwealth and what that means for us today,” Bual said.

Daily activity on the site will include workshops, sensory experiences, garden tours, and talks on subjects such as decolonising the garden and sustainability.

“By transforming a space overnight, this is an invitation to think differently about where we get our green space, and that it could be in the middle of our city if we chose it to be so,” Bual added.

August 16, 2022 at 08:19PM Jessica Murray Midlands correspondent

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