It has been just over a week since we launched Plot - a pilot project that explores the concept of ‘on-demand’ gardens. It launched as part of the urban gardening festival ‘Dig the City’ and we’ll park our usual modesty-motor temporarily and say that people went pretty freaking wild for it!
We had a brilliant response through the Plot booking site, with the first requests coming in within minutes of it going live. Slots for the garden were getting snapped up so quickly we needed a waiting list to manage all the requests. It got great pieces of coverage in places like Fast Company, Treehugger and Design Week along with an overwhelmingly positive reaction on social media, particularly from those who used the garden.
The best thing for us however has been the sheer variety of requests for how people want to use Plot that we have had submitted via the site.
We’ve had submissions from people who just wanted somewhere quiet for a coffee through to families who live in the city centre who wanted to hang out with their kids somewhere green and private for an hour.
We had local knitting group Purl City Yarns using the garden, LadiesThatUX held their monthly meet-up and also celebrated their 1st birthday, and the folks from TechHub hosted their weekly Start-Up Yoga session. It was downward facing dogs all round.
We’ve even had a marriage proposal take place at Plot! Ellie said yes to Robin and we were so thrilled that he wanted to use Plot to ask her the big question. He came to look at the garden and decided it was the right place for him to get down on one knee. We’ll keep you posted on weddings dates so we can all buy hats accordingly.
People’s reactions when they use Plot have been really magical (see above!) and to us it has shown there is an appetite for spaces like Plot in urban environments.
We thought now was a good opportunity to share a few more pictures and details about what has been inside Plot. We’ve been feeding lots of info out across our social feeds but here is a flavour of some of the things you would have found on a visit to Plot:
There are lots of plants and flowers including lavender, dahlias and buddleia. The dahlia’s tell you when they need watering as we’ve installed sensors that light up when the soil gets dry. We used DIY Thirsty Plant kits from another UK company called Technology Will Save Us and visitors, particularly young ones loved these.
We have a shed (every English garden has to have a shed!) that displayed info to visitors. It greeted you with a personalised welcome message and provided info about upcoming weather and chances of rain. In Manchester that is always useful.
There were also Wi-Fi and charge points for phones and laptops hidden in the greenness if you wanted to use them.
We wanted the tech in the garden to be subtle and in-tune with the overall experience of using Plot. Whilst there is a ‘digital layer’ the ambition was to ensure the garden always felt like a relaxed place you’d like to spend time in.
The feedback has confirmed that we have done this.
Plot Manchester as part of Dig the City has now finished. However, we are currently planning what do next with Plot so watch this space for more details on future plans.