My Wild Rooftop

The My Wild City team have transformed the overgrown roof garden of the Bristol Royal Infirmary into a wildlife garden for the doctors, nurses and patients of the hospital.

Situated on the 7th floor next to the intensive care unit, the garden represents an important place for both staff and patients to relax and enjoy being outdoors. We have teamed up with Bristol staff of the multinational construction and development company, Skanska, and our wildlife garden design experts Earth Timber Stone, to transform the space to be both an interactive, calming and healing place for people as well as a haven for wildlife.

BEFORE

 


After years of little management, many of the beds had become overgrow and dominated by single plants who’s growth had remained unchecked. Lavender had become bedraggled and woody from a lack on annual pruning, giant feather grass left unchecked had swamped all plants below it, and the voracious growth of bindweed had all but chocked the diversity of one of the larger planters. Although there was some green, intervention and diversification was needed. 

The beds were planted with a variety of pollinator friendly flowers, shrubs including a feature herb garden - we have introduced some trees, and installed a pond and created mini-stream. The team have also placed bird boxes, bee hotels and a brand new bird feeding station. 

We hope the new garden will bring vibrant colour and happiness to all those who use it and help patients feel happy and comfortable during their recovery.


For some plants, particularly the larger dogwoods, it was a simple case of thinning and shaping, a simple task undertaken using secateurs. For others, the plants were beyond saving and needed removing. Each planter was stripped of unwanted vegetation and the soil carefully combed through for leftover roots, particularly the bindweed which can grow back from even the smallest remnant of plant left within the soil. Bags of compost and manure were added to provide additional nutrients and improve with water retention in the sandy free draining soil, before new plants and other features were created.


 

The design centres around two large feature planters; one a pollinator bed planted with high nectar-producing varieties throughout the spring and summer, the other a river pond providing an opportunity for aquatic insects and water source for birds.

The remaining five smaller planters each provided a different type of habitat with mature trees, fern garden and herbs all incorporated. Several other more creative features were built into the garden including a herb temple, bucket pond, log window and bug bombs to add some creative flare and interest to the space.


 

 

Four bird boxes were placed in a variety of different places around the garden and climbing plants such as honeysuckle and clematis encouraged to grow around them. The final touch was to paint the tops of the planters with bright and vibrant colours – no benefit to wildlife but certainly draws the space together and pleasant to the human eye.

AFTER


As well as an article post one the BRI website, the project featured in both the Bristol Post* and on Made in Bristol. We’d like to thank all the volunteers from Skanska whom without their help the project would not have been completed and to Earth Timber Stone for such a creative design and assistance during the build.

 

For a list of all the plants put into the garden click here*