The Galaxy Garden “Watch this Space” at RHS Tatton Show
Reach a new audience by showcasing astronomical research at the Royal Horticultural Society Flower Show in Tatton Park.
Interact with a large number of people who we have not previously had significant engagement with science and highlight some of the important astronomical research of the next few years.
Summary of activity:
Sponsoring a themed “Galaxy Garden” at the RHS Tatton Show, gave us the ideal opportunity to bring the excitement of astronomical research to a new audience. This grant allowed us to bring together astronomers and horticulturalists to guide visitors around the astronomical context of the planning and design of the garden.
Our main evaluation method was to count the number of visitors to the garden (i.e. those who actually entered the garden and interacted with the guides), over a four day period this came to over 11,500. We also asked visitors to write a few words in our comments book, just a few of the 560 comments are listed below;
“Fascinating! Thank you for encouraging me to think of the universe through the medium of planets” Melanie (no age)
“What is behind the black hole?” Finley aged 8
“I love the black hole and luckily I love physics” Miles aged 6
“Very impressive [the] young people were knowledgeable” G. Williamson (no age)
“Inspiring in many ways - thought provoking” Ginny (no age)
The garden was awarded two medals from the RHS judges, Gold for the Galaxy Garden category (gardens are either awarded nothing, Bronze, Silver or Gold) as well as the “Most Creative Galaxy Garden” of which only one is awarded in the category.
We were also pleased to announce that we featured on the BBC’s Gardeners’ World, in two regional news programmes; BBC Radio Lancashire and Granada Reports, and in local press e.g. the Chester Chronicle. Both the reach and varied audience demographics ensured that a wide range of people were informed about what we were trying to achieve.
What went well:
1. The number of visitors to the garden
2. The interest taken by those attending the short astronomy talks
3. The level of media interest
What was learned:
1. Working with experts in their field, so we could concentrate on ours
2. Planning of all aspects needed to start at the very early stages
3. It was important that there was a balance between the two aspects of the project (horticulture and astronomy) and that everybody involved was comfortable with both
Top tips and advice for others
1. Work with people you can trust and who have experience
2. Don’t underestimate how tiring it is to be interacting with people at a festival of this kind
3. It was enormous fun, so if you are thinking of something similar, go for it.