RECOMMENDATION | Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden, Manchester
When you think of Manchester you don’t tend to associate it with botanical gardens. It’s always bloody raining and most people would picture a concrete jungle with a lot of graffiti. But we DO have one, and it’s beautiful.
Manchester is really built up and the “mad for it” expression rings true. I spend a lot of time in the city centre for work and travelling around to different towns to various play centres, shops and places to eat. We’re members of the National Trust, but even that can be a bit tedious sometimes – we only really get to go the beautiful Dunham Massey at the weekend when everyone else has had the same idea, which means it can be bedlam.
So when Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens came into my radar I was intrigued, but also dubious – there was no way we had a free-entry botanical garden in Manchester. If we did then it’d be crummy. This is Manchester after all – not a place for botanical gardens.
So the three of us went to investigate one Saturday and brought Archie’s scooter along, and after parking the car up easily (the car park was small, but there was plenty of street parking available) and for free we were pleasantly surprised. It was beautiful.
As we entered the garden the woods were to our left and the first thing we noticed was a large bird feeding area. It was teaming with many different species of birds – Archie loved this as we could get quite close. The area did have a rope around as a guide to when to stop getting any closer.
We had a look at a map near the entrance to figure out where to go next; there are several different sections and sights here such as the nature reserve, Parsonage gardens, tennis courts, the river Mersey, a café, nature trail in the woods, visitor centre and my favourite part – the rockery.
The whole place is gorgeous but the rockery was the main event for a botanical lover like me. The garden was bursting with botanical life and well-maintained, interesting and picturesque. There were information points dotted around the whole garden, not just the rockery, so we could read up on some of the history and identify the plants and trees. Archie was excited about seeing so many new plants and was able to touch and explore them, whilst learning about the importance of protecting them. There were butterflies and bees all around, and the big lily pads in the pond were a particular point of interest to him. Look out for the bright green parakeets flying around noisily!
Archie had no problem whizzing around on his scooter, but the rockery isn’t pram or wheelchair friendly. It is built on many different levels and has steep slopes, but we saw lots of parents using slings and carriers to get about. Otherwise, the rest of the gardens were accessible for pram and wheelchair users.
The café is charming, however, we are yet to go in – we brought our own food to have a little picnic. There are toilets by the café with baby changing facilities.
We ascended up from the rockery towards the café, called The Alpine Tea Room, which is situated overlooking the rockery garden. It has a quaint outdoor seating area and inside is lovely and cosy.
We headed past the café towards lots of intricately hand-carved benches, which was great for Archie to investigate. Beyond this was a large tennis court which was walked along until we headed out of Fletcher Moss, and shortly entered Parsonage gardens next door. These gardens were smaller but lovely – there were many impressive trees, a tiered garden of flowerbeds, borders bursting with plants, and at the back were greenhouses and the pretty Parsonage house. The entrance we used into the gardens welcomed us with a grand archway of carved stone.
Not far from here were plenty of decent looking pubs and bars. We didn’t go in any as we’d already eaten but they’d be great for anyone wanting to have a gastro lunch during a trip to the gardens.
Overall, Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens is a real gem in this city. It’s a very pleasant place to go just to get away from the hustle and bustle of city for just an hour or a while morning or afternoon, with or without the kids. It’s free, which means it relies on council funding and volunteers, which makes us appreciate this beautiful space even more.
For more information on this recommendation please visit fletchermossgardens.org.uk/
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