Bloom! St. Helen’s Moorish Stitch


Urban Wilderness were commissioned to work with McArthurGlen to develop a new, temporary garden for the Bloom! Festival in York; “A fun floral festival celebrating 250 years of the Ancient Society of York Florists”, whilst meeting the client’s brief to sensitively promote the company’s core fashion retail business. The garden needed to be of York and for York, connecting people to plants and to their environment with a sense of fun and playfulness. In addition, we felt that the garden needed to actively promote the benefits of urban greening, a philosophy that runs at the heart of our work.

The final concept combined planting inspired by the north York Moors, i.e. a sense of place and the desire to connect people with their environment, with a modular ‘stitch’ pattern, a reference to fashion design. The added play on the word ‘Moorish’ to describe something luscious or tasty applied both to the garden but also its context, being surrounded by well-known restaurants. The garden commanded full use of the city centre setting, creating impact whilst respecting York’s attractiveness as a visitor destination.

Practically, the installation needed to be in flower during the festival, sustainable (90% of all materials and labour were locally sourced) and capable of being relocated from the city centre location  to York Designer Outlet (out of town shopping centre) in order to extend its lifetime beyond the 4 days of the festival.

We are happy to announce that we have been ‘Highly Commended’ at the 2018 Landscape Institute national awards ceremony. Our Helen’s Moorish Stitch design for Bloom! York was formally recognised for ‘an effective and sustainable’ approach to design. 

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“Living in the Mansion House the Lady Mayoress and I were able to watch how the Urban Wilderness was constructed. It was a fascinating experience to see how it gradually transformed the square. We could also see the reaction of the crowds of people who were equally stunned and excited by what had happened to this important area of our city.”


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