We Need To Talk About The Bearpit

In March of this year, just as we had received funding to continue our work in the Bearpit, (James Barton roundabout) we were asked by the head of green and blue places in the city, to cease working on the garden as they had come up with a plan that was all about creating a pollinator rich garden where the garden we had worked on since 2016 was.

Now, for sure the garden was, at that point, far from perfect. The ravages of 2017 when the space was inaccessible, mixed with a lack of funding for the garden and then Covid on top of that, when all volunteering in public spaces was stopped, rightly, but the Bristol Parks team, meant that there was a lot of work to do in the space, but having procured funding from an outside source, which would have meant a team in the garden for a day a week, we were excited to bring the garden back to a place where food and pollinator rich planting was abundant.

Unfortunately what seems to have happened since is absolutely nothing. The plants are all overgrown, it’s covered in litter and filth, and it feels immensely disrespectful that a space that had been worked on entirely voluntarily, and which over the years had only cost Bristol Council ¬£7,500 in funding in the first year, has been left to rack and ruin.

What also is of concern is that there was no consultation from the council on this decision, whereas before our garden was designed and planted we had spent days engaging with people in the Bearpit and those who used it regularly. Every single person we spoke to wanted to see nature and food as a part of the garden, which is why the garden was designed as a food forest.

We are really both sad and angry that this has happened. We have sat back and said nothing as we expected the council teams to respect the work that had been done and continue it in some way. But instead we see hugely expensive containers and baskets full of flowers that might be bright but which speak nothing to the climate or biodiversity crisis we have acknowledged.

As COP26 is happening we would like to call on the council to recognise the failure of this space, and a need to do better in public spaces, and especially in spaces that they have removed from community organisations with no consultation at all. The city centre ought to be a place of richness and abundance in spaces where planting takes place, and instead off which looks sad and neglected. From the Bearpit to the area around the Cenotaph and the fountains, the planting is unimaginative and where there could be rain gardens, vertical planting and food, there is nothing more interesting than you might see in a supermarket car park. We have acknowledged climate and biodiversity crises, and yet the city is not seeming to respond.

We would like to add that this is nothing against Bristol Parks department who’s support we have always been grateful for.

But this is a call to return the Bearpit to us, and fund us to do the work to recreate a garden that had international acclaim, brought in visitors from far and wide, and added to the culture in the city centre. And as a reminder here is what it looked like in it’s hey day……

Bearpit Community Day

The Bearpit continues to need care and commitment and so on this day we’ll be working with Bearpit Bristol on a whole community day, where we’ll be working on the garden, the containers and carrying on making the space a place to be proud to be a part of.

Come and join us? There will be planting and painting, as well as mending the containers so we can utilise them better, so if you think you can lend a hand, we would love to see you.



Bearpit Work Party!!

We still have lots of planting to do in the Bearpit Garden and that will begin at this work party, where we will be adding arches to grow hops and vines across as well as planting Japanese Quince and roses along the walls of the space and creating a wire framework for them. We’ll also be rebuilding some planters and painting them and sowing seeds in order that we have perennial meadows this year under the trees!!

We will be joined by Bristol¬†University’s horticultural team for the day and everyone is welcome to really kickstart the exciting year of gardening we have planned for the Bearpit!!

Bearpit Garden Work Party

Weather permitting we will be holding our first Bearpit Garden Work Party on the 11th January. During this session we will be concentrating on weeding the area under the tree and preparing it for the wonderful perennial meadow planting that is going to happen underneath it in the spring! Inevitably there will also be some weeding and work to do in the main part of the garden too!!

All are welcome, bring gloves if you have them and make sure you have sturdy, and waterproof, shoes or boots.


Bearpit Work Party

The Bearpit Garden continues to grow from strength to strength and at this work party we will carry on bulb planting, including putting some in the containers that are dotted around the space.

We will also be painting and signing the blackboards and starting to tidy our propagation space behind the tools container.

Pop along and join in or just come for a chat-we’d love to see you there.img_2945

Bearpit Bulb Planting Party

We have ordered 1500 bulbs and will be planting these at this work party!! Why not come along and help us to plant these bulbs to ensure the Bearpit is full of beautiful colour in the spring, as well as ensuring our pollinators have plenty of early flowering plants to feed on.

All are welcome. Please ensure you wear sturdy shoes and bring a waterproof just in case!!


Bearpit Work Party

We have lots to achieve at this session, including a thorough weeding session, plants and seeds to be sown and planted out, and lots and lots of carpentry to be done!!

We will have 20 corporate volunteers joining us, but everyone is welcome to this session. Why not come along and help us continue to make this extraordinary garden?

Please wear sturdy shoes and bring gloves if you have them.

Bearpit Garden Work Party

Last week we worked all week to get the path installed into the garden in the Bearpit and now we are moving our attention to levelling the soil and beginning to sow some ground cover crops that will overwinter and put nitrogen back into the soil.

We’d love to see you if you’re around!! All are welcome although under 16s must be accompanied by an adult.