Parks are important places for people to escape the city and the routine of everyday life, to daydream and drift away for a while, to find a place of calm and a favourite spot, to sit and watch the world go by and listen to the sounds of the park’s visitors and inhabitants.
Whitworth Park is an urban oasis and a feast for the senses in all seasons. The Art garden at the rear of the building delivers the gallery into the park through a stunning and ever changing mix of wildflowers, grasses, herbs and, the odd perennial.
As Autumn gives way to early winter the frozen leaves crunch beneath your feet, a sure sign there will be no more warm days to come.
Winter blankets it with snow and shows us the sculptures in different ways; the snowy ground muffles the sounds of life and transports you elsewhere. The towering trees are home to a population of wildlife including friendly squirrels, fieldfares, redwings, magpies, pigeons, green parakeets and many more all contributing to a lively sounding park.
As the snow gives way to spring’s bulbs and first signs of greenery, the sounds of the park change as the lively chatter of its permanent residents waking up fill the air.
On a quiet morning the sound of squirrels scampering up and down the trees accompanies the dawn chorus, occasionally peppered by a passing ambulance and aircraft. The mornings are a symphony of sounds in the park. The parakeets are surprisingly active and easier to see at this time of year when the trees are bare .
Trees are becoming easier to identify as their leaves begin to return. Why not discover some of our hundreds of trees with the University of Manchester online tree trail?
Sounds of pigeons and magpies fighting over food fill the park as more and more human voices join them. People shaking off winter on their morning runs, chatting as they go, students and hospital workers eating lunch and kids charging about all make up the seasonal and movable soundtrack of the park.
Early spring is an explosion of colour as bulbs burst through the ground to create a carpet of blooms beneath the London Plane trees that line the gallery. It is this time of year that the fragrances of the herbs and other aromatics in the art garden are staring to rise with the warmth, the scent of herbs and flowers mix and float through the park as the weather gets warmer.
A hot day brings the ice cream van out and with it the children and families soaking up the sun and atmosphere. The sounds and smells of people barbecuing and picnicking are a fixture in the summer.
Find a place to lie down with your head in the clouds and tune out of the world; you might catch a glimpse of the famous green parakeets flying from tree-top to tree-top, their unmistakable squawking signalling them, harder to see in the treetops as they now blend in with the leaves.
Watch the grass reflect the sunlight as it ebbs and flows from behind the clouds and take in the smell of freshly cut grass, the olfactory theme song of summer.
Autumn’s colours transform the park into a work of art in its own right. The sounds of rustling leaves, the squirrels urgently scurrying about trying to bury their stash in the piles and people kicking their way through the leaves take over.
Take a stroll around the park’s sculptures and see how many you can discover, starting with the colourful “Gathering of Strangers.”
Or follow this handy sculpture trail map for a tour around the park
….and maybe you can answer some of those burning questions such as: Did a meteor really land near the centre of the park? Just what is that big white structure? And who is the hunched figure by the art garden?
Who knows, it may take you to corners of the park you have not yet visited; be on the lookout for a snowman that never melts.
Whitworth park was created with the wellbeing of the people of Manchester in mind and this carries on today with the park being used by many people for exercise, live action role play, yoga, tai-chi and so much more.
Even just passing through on the way to or from work there is always time to take a moment and tune in to the sounds and smells of the park.
Thanks for joining this virtual tour. Hopefully it has given you a taste of what the park has to offer. Why not join us on a Tuesday lunchtime for our weekly Walking for Wellbeing guided tours of the park. Whatever the weather we take a leisurely walk around the park to learn about the history, the trees and animals and talk about the sculptures. Everyone is welcome to join us.
Or just find a quiet place to sit and watch the goings on of the park.