Since moving house in early December, my surroundings have gone from blossoms, greenery, and a city-wide view to one of concrete and cars. Throughout December, as I settled into my new place, I found myself depressed by the lack of outdoor space.
In my old place I could sit and stare out the window watching the birds play, cats exploring foliage, and escaped chickens raiding front gardens. Now, looking out my front window brings a sense of claustrophobia with more windows (and sometimes eyes) staring back at me.
To tackle this, I joined the Friends of The Storey Garden, a group dedicated to managing and marketing The Storey Garden in Lancaster. Nestled below Lancaster Castle, this heritage space features a picnic area and tasting garden, creating a peaceful oasis in the centre of town.
The pathways weave like tree roots reaching towards fresh fruit and green beans. It’s a calm space with dedicated volunteers pruning, gardening, and hosting events where visitors can learn more about the historic architecture and heritage status while leaving a donation to help fund art work restoration.
As a child, I loved exploring my grandma’s garden and this space offers the same sense of wonder and exploration.
Each month, I visit the space with a camera in hand to capture new growth, volunteers in action, and the changing seasons. It’s my own personal oasis where I can strike the strangest poses to capture unique shots without worrying about embarrassing myself.
I will often sit under the trees with a cup of coffee, watching for squirrels and birds playing or singing. I’ll chat to Fiona or Ruth, the main volunteers on hand, and receive a guided tour of new plants and seasonal florals.
Occasionally, I will lay my camera down and help dig for worms, prune plants, or sample herbs from The Tasting Garden. It’s an incredible sensory experience that has allowed me to reconnect with nature after being secluded for so long.
As an autistic person, the world can be very overwhelming. I am happiest in nature, but I struggle to leave my home (which is a safe environment). That’s why spaces like the The Storey Garden are so important. It offers me a safe and reliable space to think, practice photography, and experience nature in my own unique way.
Plus, there’s a constant supply of new flowers, a cute bug hotel, and curious doggos that get my hands happy flapping.
I’m incredibly excited to see the garden transition into Autumn and whether Light Up Lancaster will be hosting more events in the space. If you’re in Lancaster, I highly recommend grabbing a drink from The Print Room Cafe (inside the Storey building), and taking some time to find peace in a busy city centre.