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Manchester Dragoneers

Submitted by Karen Birch

Manchester Dragoneers Create Green Space

Manchester Dragoneers take their paddling seriously but also their post paddle cuppa, cake and catch up. Whilst we have been busy honing our paddling technique over the summer, we have also created a beautiful outdoor space to spend time and enjoy the Mancunian weather…..yes it does get sunny occasionally! Debdale Outdoor Centre, although in an urban area, is surrounded by a park and allotments. Our aim was to complement the surrounding greenspace by creating a pollinator-friendly garden and provide a welcoming outdoor space.

Starting us off back in 2022, were a team of students from Manchester School of Architecture, who have left us with an eye-catching dragon mural. To date, with ‘We love MCR Stronger Communities’ funding, support from Debdale Outdoor centre and hard work from the Dragons, a strip of unused land has been transformed into a tranquil space for either sitting and reflecting in nature or catching up with friends.

Although the planting is new, it is already providing a home for pollinators such as bees and butterflies. The area closest to the water remains wilder, creating a range of ecosystems. Initial groundworks involved levelling off outside the centre and clearing back some vegetation in order to create raised beds. Planting has included bedding plants, tomatoes, climbers to create more privacy for the area. Bulbs have been planted for some post winter spring colour. An accessible bench has been fitted and it has been well tried out for brews and cakes post dragon boating.

There is increasing awareness of the benefits of being outdoors in nature, not only physically but also for general wellbeing and social connections. We have felt the benefits as all the hard work and digging has built up muscles and our paddling is all the stronger for it. It has also been a pleasure to share gardening tips as we have so many dragons with green fingers.

In these winter months we have retreated indoors once more after paddling to keep warm, however whilst the garden sleeps, we have plans to continue to develop our wonderful space. There are ongoing works planned including a rain chain water feature and more planting in spring. As we are growing our team of beautiful dragons, we may even need more seating. Manchester Dragoneers always have a warm welcome (and cake) so if you are passing come and join us.