Designer Coronation Garden will be centrepiece of £1.1m Newtownabbey park upgrade

Celebrity garden designer Diarmuid Gavin is to create a commemorative garden in Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough to mark the coronation of King Charles III on May 6 2023.

Mr Gavin is to be commissioned to produce a specially-designed mechanical “Coronation Pleasure Garden” at Hazelbank Park in Newtownabbey.

This will be the designer’s second high profile horticultural creation in the borough. A mechanical Clockwork Garden was created at Antrim Castle Gardens to commemorate Her late Majesty’s platinum jubilee and to mark the return of Garden Show Ireland to the venue which was refurbished a decade ago and the centenary of a fire which destroyed Antrim Castle.

The local authority has already agreed to invest £1.1m in a capital scheme at Hazelbank Park on the shorefront,

Platinum Jubilee Clockwork Garden at Antrim Castle Gardens.Platinum Jubilee Clockwork Garden at Antrim Castle Gardens.
Platinum Jubilee Clockwork Garden at Antrim Castle Gardens.

A spokesperson for Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council said: “The Coronation Garden forms part of the wider project at Hazelbank Park. Other elements of the project are currently at feasibility stage and still require council approval.”

Commenting after the meeting, Macedon Alliance Councillor Billy Webb MBE said: “As a local councillor for the area, and as the former chair of ‘Save Hazelbank Park’, I am particularly delighted that there will be this investment in our local park. This will further enhance a facility which is very well used and loved by local residents, as well as many visitors from afar. ”

The Clockwork Garden at Antrim Castle Gardens sees the mechanical garden “come to life” with a performance by “dancing” trees and other elements that can turn and move.

In addition, Diarmuid has been eyeing the parks, green spaces and coastline from Jordanstown to Hazelbank and Gideon’s Green as well as the Newtownabbey Way and Threemilewater Park with a view to creating “something exceptional”, councillors have been told.

An artist's impression of the new garden to mark the King's coronation.An artist's impression of the new garden to mark the King's coronation.
An artist's impression of the new garden to mark the King's coronation.

Cherry Blossom

He has proposed an “award-winning Botanical Borough” concept which the council believes would boost recovery from the Covid pandemic. This includes the creation of cherry blossom tree avenues in a bid to “create a cosmopolitan feel”; the creation of wildflower meadows “transforming parks, road, verges, waste ground to flowering meadows”; botanical wall art for town centres and housing estates to “soften the appearance” and make them “more attractive” and create urban spaces where residents can grow fruit and vegetables.

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Commenting at a meeting of council on Monday, Antrim SDLP Councillor Roisin Lynch said: “This is a very exciting opportunity and the movement towards a Botanical Borough is a vision is something that will set us apart.”

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

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