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  • Writer's pictureBridgette Macilwaine

The Breathing Space at Stanmer Park

Bordered between the dense woodland and open wildflower fields, the Breathing Space (created by Lindy Brook Tweed) provides a peaceful space to reflect and meditate, as well as create and protect wildlife habitats.

The main element to this garden is the large central Willow bower, accessed through a small opening in the foliage, looking upwards the brilliantly curving branches twist and mesh together overhead. On this warm and sunny summers August afternoon, the shadows from the surrounding leaves dapple the ground below, and a cool calmness can be felt within the bower.

Inside the bower, four main elements are visible, each relating to their specific cardinal direction. Air - North, Fire - South, Earth - East, Water - West

The bower is surrounded by biodiverse wildflower planting beds, which blend beautifully into the bordering woodland, to the side of the structure is an informal and spacious seating and firepit area, constructed out of timber planks and tree stumps.

This beautiful and immersive garden space has been transformed by volunteers who value our connection to nature, our wellbeing and the importance of supporting local biodiversity. As a designer and nature lover, wandering through this space fills me with inspiration and gratitude, for those who've dedicated hours and hours of volunteering over the past years creating this haven in the South Downs.

The dedicated bee garden is accessed through a low timber and wire fence, tall birch and cherries trees casting soft shadows, and clumps of purple echinops in the back, with deep burgundy and peach dahlias peeping through. A bean covered A-frame stands in the corner, bursting with small red flowers, Anthemis tinctoria adding vibrant yellow splashes and gentle heads of verbena bobbing above the greenery.

Lindy highlights that the garden is managed only to the point to ensure paths are clear and to keep on top of bindweed and ground elder. Not overmanaged, and instead simply allowing the planting to grow and merge into this soft and tranquil space, as if moving through a soothing Monet painting.


"Nature is the greatest place to heal and recharge, being surrounded by nature rejuvenates and inspired us"

Moving through the garden with Lindy, she explains when this plot of land became her project 22 years ago, this was nothing more than an open, empty grass field, which is quite incredible to believe, as the space seems very intimate and enclosed by a beautiful selection of trees up to 10m high and dense boundary hedgerows.

As we continue through the garden, the sound of bees buzzing around blooming marjoram and the soft breeze through the leaves, wild and beautiful planting spilling from every edge, concealing the corners of this plot.

Other species within this garden include Elderberries and Blackcurrants, with spring bursting into life with bluebells, daffodils, primroses. An interesting point from Lindy noting that when these tall Cherry and Birch trees were planted 17years ago, they were only 1.5m high!

Between a small opening in the hedge we come to a smaller structure, new growth reaching up to the blue sky and a couple of timber seats within its centre. This heart shape living form is the Hawthorn bower, a symbol for spring, sexuality, and growth.

This plot seems like a small space, but around each corner there's somewhere new to explore. A small pond and seating area hidden amongst the trees, under a growing archway and framed with native trees leads to the compost bay area with timber tool shed, and on the opposite side of the garden, between 2 large tree trunks leads to a well concealed compost toilet hiding amongst the forest greenery.

"Rain at the Breathing Space" below written by Lindy Brook Tweed.


Thanks for reading, any questions, we would love to hear from you!


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