For many, Nottingham is known as a city with lots of green space. Looking back to the Victorian times, parks like the Arboretum were created to counter the industrial pollution and named the ‘green lungs’ of the city.

Today these parks are a beloved addition to our cities, and in summer time they provide a great place to enjoy the (rare) sunshine.  For most people a daily trip to the park is an impossibility, with weekday lives being focused on work, besides, parks are often static entities, imagine the energy of a city centre merged with a park. It’s time for parks to break free of their Victorian brick walls and cast iron gates and allow nature to spill into our cities.

We need to be innovative in the way we think about ‘green space’. Parks are fantastic for recreation and exercise, but for a daily dose of nature we need something more. There is a whole host of research that recognises the need for daily contact with nature to live productive and happy lives- something that not all of us can achieve with parks alone.  

Our minds hunt for complexity in nature, but are left hungry by our urban environment. By bringing well designed planted elements into the city, it can create a stimulating (and health-promoting) backdrop to our daily lives. What cities like ours need more of are smaller pockets of nature, termed ‘biophillic cities’ by creating tree-lined streets and pocket parks in small unloved spaces. Green infrastructure describes this approach ‘a network of multifunctional green space’.  If green space is woven into the fabric of our cities, then it hugely increases the chance of us getting our daily nature doses.

Research carried out in London on prescriptions of antidepressants and walking routes to work found the higher the tree densities, the lower the prescription rate. And it’s studies like this that are encouraging the great deal of work that is happening to make London a more biophillic city. Already recognised as a city which a great deal of green space because of its parks, they are working to integrate smaller, more regular green hotspots. Here are just a few examples of pocket parks that have been created in London as park of the Mayors greening strategy.

Furthermore, outside of London, last year government funding allowed for plans to go ahead for 80 new pocket park spaces across the country. By allowing nature to wind its way through Nottingham’s glorious alleyways, hidden courtyards and along its streets, we can make sure that everyone can enjoy the scents of newly opened flowers, or enjoy the orange leaves of autumn, not just those people who have time to visit a park every day.

In some ways, it is up to everyone to make the streets greener. Is there space for a planter or two outside your workplace? Or a neglected verge you walk past every day that could benefit from a sprinkling of wildflower seed? Go out and re-nature your city! It would make the bees happy, and us city dwellers too!