Manchester Urban Gardening – always unexpected – Six on Saturday 27 October 2019

Manchester Urban Gardening – always unexpected – Six on Saturday 27 October 2019

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We were out and about in Manchester City centre early on Saturday morning mostly running errands around the Northern Quarter. It was a bright, cold but sunny day – it’s been the first morning with frost in the air. My pals who live in the hills around Manchester said it was trying to snow… Winter is coming…

I thought I’d take some photos and tell some stories for my Six on Saturday.

  1. Silver Birch

    There are many Silver Birch trees dotted around the centre of the city – some mature and some, like this one, planted by new flats built a few years ago. There is no sign of the leaves turning yellow as Autumn has been mild until this week. Look at that blue sky though! #nofilter 

2. Special Acers

      These are two of the 22 dwarf

Acers in huge black iron containers in memory of the Arena attack victims placed around the city centre. In May 2018, they were covered in messages and hearts – the containers have bees on them too. The city council are planning a permanent memorial. 

I don’t think I need to tell you how much impact this terrible act had on our city and its people but we are resilient – #strongertogether

3. Urban re-use – Mackie Mayor, Swan Street, Manchester

The North part of Manchester city centre around Oldham Street and Great Ancoats Street is now called ‘Northern Quarter’ but in the 19th Century it was the market area of Manchester.

Only two of the market halls remain and are still in use.

Manchester Art and Design Centre

The Craft Centre was founded in 1982 and is run by Manchester City Council.  It was one of the first buildings to help the regeneration of this part of the city since the 1980s.  It had fallen on hard times, with seedy shops, red-light areas and a great deal of poverty.  It’s very different around the Northern Quarter now – trendy restaurants and bars, creative arts and designers, etc.

It is housed in the former retail fish market building (opened in 1873).   The Centre is home to many artists, crafters and jewellers – do visit if you’re looking for gifts. It has an excellent vegan cafe too.  

My Chap and I went last year to make our wedding rings with Charlotte Verity ( I need to write about this wonderful experience.

Mackie Mayor (2017 – )

Smithfield Market (the meat market) was opened in 1856 at the height of the city’s industrialisation and growth in the population, who all needed food.  It was a market until 1972, after which it was used as storage facility, a skateboard park but mostly shut despite it being Grade II listed.  Most people worried it would be knocked down or fall down.
It is named after the Mayor of Manchester who opened the building in 1856.
The refurbishment was done by the team behind Altrincham Market and Market House. It is a stunning building containing businesses selling coffee, burgers, fish, beer, pizza, oriental food. It’s a wonderful place.  Here is their ethos.

It seats 500, there are no reservations!  BTW It is closed on Mondays.
Do visit if you’re in the area 🙂

4. Urban plants

When you look closely plants are all around us in city centres – not just in window boxes.  At Mackie Mayor, these trolleys are packed with plants.

A stunning poppy, coreopsis and nasturtiums.

It was far too cold to sit outside but this area is heaving with people in the summer.

5. Bees are everywhere in Manchester

We do out bit for the bees too – there are hives on the roof of the Arndale Shopping Centre and Manchester Art Gallery. The worker bee is the symbol of Manchester – it was given to the city in the 19th century to reflect the ‘industriousness’ of its people and is part of our civic crest. There are bees in stonework, floors, windows, bins and plenty of stickers and street art.

We had an invasion of bee statues this summer –

Halle St Bee-ter's A Chorus of Industry - No 3401

Halle St Bee-ter’s A Chorus of Industry – No 3401 – #beeinthecity

£1.1m was raised from auctioning off the bee statues to support We Love MCR Charity’s Stronger Communities Fund, which provides grants of up to £2000 for initiatives that bring communities together to celebrate diversity and build stronger relationships.

The bees inspire so much creativity – a story for another post.

Street Art in the City Centre

Stephenson Square is probably the centre of the Northern Quarter street art. The gable ends have ever-changing art overseen by #outhousemcr. Artists come from around the world to paint our street art. It often has sharp social commentary.  There are probably more than 30 street art paintings on buildings around the northern quarter.  I need to go on a sunny day and take more photos.

I take photos of this substation/building and the art every time I walk past – the art has been changing about every three months since 2010. It’s overseen by @outhousemcr.  Stephenson Square is also home to the ‘Northern Quarter Makers Market’ – 2nd Sunday of the month.

The green roof on the disused toilet block was planted by Manchester City of Trees a few years ago It has a mix of wildflowers but only the poppies are still flowering. City of Trees aim is to plant 3million trees around Greater Manchester – one for every person.

Stephenson Square was a tram terminus so it’s actually rectangular – it’s home to Fred Aldous art and craft shop (founded 1886).  Emmeline Pankhurst held rallies here in the Square for votes for women – she was born and lived in Manchester – founding the suffragette movement in her home on Nelson Street. This is now the Pankhurst Centre (which has a lovely garden too) – it has limited opening times (check the website).

I am proud that there will be a statue of Emmeline unveiled in the city in St Peter’s Square in December.  She’ll join Queen Victoria as the only other female statue in our city.  The statue will be unveiled on 14th December 2018 on the hundredth anniversary of the first election where ‘some’ women could vote.

I should do a post about the many paintings on this section – even the late, great David Bowie has featured.

6. Unexpected Surprises

Look out – There are monsters around Manchester… have you seen any?


As usual, I’ve joined in with the Propagator – – Six things garden related on a Saturday – I hope mine count 😉


Have you seen anything unusual this week? Any monsters?  Have you got any street art near where you live?

Stay safe over Halloween,

Carpe Diem

Love Bec xxx xxx


  1. 28/10/2018 / 11:33 pm

    Oh wow, this is so different – love the monsters!! I wish I was closer to Manchester to pay a visit. Lovely photos

    • 30/10/2018 / 3:22 pm

      I’m out in Manchester city centre on Wednesday so I’m going to take some more photos of the monsters. They’re massive.

  2. 29/10/2018 / 6:19 am

    The street art is beautiful, especially that bee. I’m loving that foody market place as well. That would be my idea of heaven 🙂

  3. 29/10/2018 / 6:53 am

    What an interesting post. I love the street art, such talent. Also the Acers are beautiful and a lovely tribute.

    • 30/10/2018 / 3:23 pm

      thanks Amy -yes there are some wonderful street artists working in Manchester. Some of the murals are massive too. The acers are looking wonderful at the moment – I need to look for the others around the city centre.

  4. 29/10/2018 / 6:55 am

    I would love to check out this market! I bet you have some good stalls. I have never been to Manchester but there is so much street art!

    • 29/10/2018 / 2:21 pm

      this is just a tiny sample of the street art around the city – I must get out and take some more photos 🙂
      there are many street markets in Manchester – some focus on street food and others on objects/art/makers.
      There’s so much to do in Manchester and plenty of things for little kids too (we’ve got a Trex in one of our museums).

  5. 29/10/2018 / 8:18 am

    I really love Acers, they are so ornate and beautiful. Street art is amazing too, I am so glad it brightens up our cities.

    • 30/10/2018 / 3:25 pm

      the colours of the acers are stunning this time of year. I’m definitely squeezing another dwarf one in my garden. yes I’m looking out for more around the city – we’ve even got six murals on my local high street in Monton, Eccles.

  6. 29/10/2018 / 8:29 am

    Such a wonderful, rich history Manchester has. I’m glad to hear that Emmeline Pankhurst‘s part in that is being commemorated for the anniversary of her death/the women’s vote. And I love the bees!

    • 30/10/2018 / 3:26 pm

      yes – we are very proud of Emmeline and the other suffragettes here in Manchester. There’s been plenty of coverage in the local media too. Yes the bees are everywhere 🙂

  7. Lora Hughes
    29/10/2018 / 8:35 am

    After hearing so much about mature trees being culled in urban areas, it’s wonderful to see a major UK city going in the opposite direction.

    • 29/10/2018 / 12:01 pm

      yes Lora – trees do get cut down but there seems to be a much better attitude around Greater Manchester. City of Trees are doing great work too.

  8. 29/10/2018 / 9:45 am

    I love those bees too! Manchester looks like such a lovely, vibrant place.

  9. 29/10/2018 / 12:58 pm

    I really need to head out into Nottingham with my camera to see if I can find any street art. We had an invasion of robins over the summer which was fab. Absolutely love Manchester and the bees x

    • 30/10/2018 / 3:28 pm

      do it 🙂 get the camera out and I bet you’ll find some great street art. I didn’t know Nottingham had robins – what a shame I missed them. These street statue projects are such a good idea to get people out and about.

  10. 29/10/2018 / 6:29 pm

    I’ve so enjoyed reading this – Manchester is my town too and we definitely are #strongertogether. The Arena attack shook us all but I think it’s given us even more sense of belonging, in some way.

    • 30/10/2018 / 10:23 am

      yes I agree – I think the people of Manchester are very resilient, want to be a friendly, welcoming place to people from around the world. I’m a southerner originally but I know I’m in my spiritual home here.

  11. 30/10/2018 / 7:58 am

    Isn’t it beautiful and so culture rich. The bees get me every single time. A tribute I don’t think anyone will ever forget x

    • 30/10/2018 / 3:29 pm

      yes the bees were important in Manchester before the events of May 2017 but are even more important now. It’s so inventive how people have used them too 🙂 I must take more photographs 🙂

  12. 30/10/2018 / 8:16 am

    This post makes me miss Manchester so much. It’s a good thing we’re thinking of coming back (permanently) soon…

  13. 30/10/2018 / 12:44 pm

    Love the finds and the cute story each one has. I need to start being intentional about creating picture content too. I sometimes notice the sunset, lovely building designs, plants and stop to take pictures. Those I the things I spot regularly.

    • 30/10/2018 / 3:31 pm

      thank you Faith – I take many photos not always knowing if I’ll need them for the blog or just to bring joy to my life. Yes take your camera and take photos – It helps me be mindful and in the moment too.

  14. 30/10/2018 / 1:39 pm

    Lovely to see the acer pictures and read that they have been planted in memory of the concert. Their rainbow of leaves really shine in the beautiful Autumn sunshine. Are those nasturtiums outside Mackie Mayor? Edible flowers are very fitting!


  15. Whitney Kutch
    30/10/2018 / 5:53 pm

    How beautiful! I love finding gorgeous trees and plants all around 🙂

  16. 31/10/2018 / 6:40 am

    Manchester has so many hidden gems I’m sad I haven’t discovered the market myself it looks so cool!

  17. Clare Minall
    01/11/2018 / 7:22 am

    I love how beautiful the Manchester is. I already visited here once and this urban gardening makes me fall in love.

  18. 01/11/2018 / 9:52 am

    I love street art. Manchester City is looking so arty and bohemian in a lovely way though. I think it’s a great way to brighten up the city centre x

    • 01/11/2018 / 10:12 am

      Manchester – especially the Northern Quarter is looking great because of the street art. I need to walk round and take more photos.

  19. Vicky
    01/11/2018 / 6:38 pm

    I visited Manchester for the first time a few months ago and ate at Mackie Mayer, its so so good there! Also the bees everywhere are so beautiful. Great pictures, such a lovely city

  20. 03/11/2018 / 6:04 am

    very nice sharing with the lovely captures 😀 Sharing with my dad who loves gardening, he compliments all the plants so pretty 😀 cheers, siennylovesdrawing

    • 03/11/2018 / 12:21 pm

      Thank you and thank you to your Dad too. I bet he’s got some stunning tropical plants in his garden too.

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