Spanning the River Maine in Randalstown, the project – understood to be the first of its kind across Ireland – is just one of four installations across the UK which have been designated a Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Community Garden as part of National Gardening Week (02 – 08 May 2022).
Officially opening the garden, with hundreds of visitors descending upon the suspended garden – christened ‘Elevation’ – Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Councillor Billy Webb said: “Designed in conjunction with the local community, this popular recreational pathway will become a destination hot spot that is equal parts working garden and world-class attraction for locals and visitors alike. The repurposing of what was already an iconic heritage landmark into a picturesque restorative space will undoubtedly increase tourism footfall to such a beautiful part of Northern Ireland, which in turn helps to boost the economy.”
The garden will offer a mix of sustainable pollinator-friendly planting, extended bee corridors, shelter for hibernating species, as well as seeds and berries for birds. An intergenerational team will maintain the site, which has seating and areas for people to get together and facilitate workshops, according to community organisation Tidy Randalstown, who were the Northern Ireland recipients of the RHS Community Garden award.
Helen Boyd, chair of the local volunteer group, said: “As well as being an exciting and distinctive garden on such a magnificent site, Elevation will provide an important restorative space for the people who live in the area.”