GRASSES blow in the wind, flowers are still in bloom and reeds surround a small pond.

It is a tranquil scene that is no doubt replicated in suburban gardens across the country. Yet this is no suburban garden - this green haven sits on the top of a building at the University of Bradford.

There is even a beehive among the vegetation in this biodiverse corner overlooking the city.

The space, on top of the institution’s Bright Building, is one of many areas across the campus expertly created and tended by a team of staff from the university’s grounds department.

Over the years they have created and nurtured a beautiful, diverse series of gardens stretching across the inner city campus

The extensive greenery includes fruit trees, edible plants, vegetables and herbs.

Not only are the efforts of the team appreciated by staff and students but the local community too is being encouraged to admire and make use of the space and produce.

The team’s gardening skills have seen them scoop a number of accolades over the years including, recently, a gold joint category prize in the Yorkshire in Bloom awards as well as a discretionary Yorkshire Rose Award for Conservation and Wildlife.

The university is one of 19 campuses nationally to have gained the Green Flag award, given to schemes that have brought outstanding benefits to both their site and the local


Says building maintenance officer Christopher Mudd: “Many houses here have no gardens, and the campus offers a wonderful green space for residents to enjoy.”

“About three years ago we developed a scheme whereby students, staff and the community could pick their own vegetables, in particular soft fruits. We have apples, pears, plums, raspberries, strawberries, blackcurrants and redcurrants. It is well used - members of the Eastern European community like the blackcurrants and we get people picking herbs to flavour curries.”

Herbs are grown in tubs around the campus, with varieties chosen for their culinary applications.

Wildlife-attracting climbers planted in key locations include honeysuckle, rose, clematis and jasmine. Sunnier aspects have been planted with varieties of cherry and grape.

Head gardener Richard Cook, along with Dave Walker, Paul Roper, Robert Ideson, Peter Winn and Colin Robinson, tend the 26-acre site, making use of garden waste by turning it into compost or woodchips.

Says Peter: “I look after the bedding, herbs and fruit trees. When I tell people there are apple trees here, just a few minutes walk from the city centre, they don’t believe me.”

Adds Robert: “We are planting more every year, and lots of people comment on the gardens.”

Peter and Robert proudly lead tours of the campus, taking in areas including the orchard, Italian garden and allotment garden.

This year the Yorkshire in Bloom judges’ commented: ‘The efforts the University are making to care for the environment and the provision made for wildlife is impressive. Encouraging students to grow herbs and edible plants is a good idea.”

‘Involving local schools in planting hedges etc.., and forming links with the local community is very worthwhile….Fruit and vegetable areas where staff and students can pick and use fresh produce is very beneficial.’

“It is a marvellous achievement and we are very pleased that our work is appreciated,” says estates planning manager Steve Jenkins. “We often see people picking things. We grow potatoes, broccoli and leeks in raised beds.”

The team works closely with Shipley College horticultural department and is involved with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), members of which have visited the campus.

“It is quite unique - a lovely green space. There are not many city centre campuses which have this much,” says Christopher. “One thing we are keen to develop is the wildflower area.”

Future ideas include a ‘seed to soup’ scheme, involving work with a local charity providing food for those in need, and sharing gardening skills.

“We also want to encourage anyone walking around the campus to take photographs that could be included in a Yorkshire in Bloom brochure we produce every year.”

The university works with the national network Business in the Community. “We help the long-term unemployed and people dealing with various issues to get back to work, through supporting the grounds team. We have had 12 participants so far,” says Christopher.

Close working bonds are also formed with local primary schools. This year pupils from Foxhill Primary School in Bradford helped to plant hedging donated by the Woodland Trust.

“Children from nursery schools come along and pick acorns and fruit,” adds Steve.