Funded separately to Hull Maritime, Hull City Council is embarking on transforming Queens Gardens.
A long-term vision
Hull City Council has been working on a long-term plan for Queens Gardens to improve the space to make it more flexible and accessible as well as the increase the biodiversity. Bespoke art will also be incorporated into the plans to raise awareness of its rich maritime links.
Queens Gardens, designed by Sir Fredrick Gibberd, has become a popular area recognised for its long vista, but many visitors do not realise that they are walking in what was once the largest dock in UK.
The gardens, as well as being a much-loved open space, is a key element in the maritime history of Hull, connecting Hull Maritime Museum and the North End Shipyard- the new home of the Arctic Corsair.
Extensive work to improve the gardens began on 1 June 2023 and is expected to be complete by 2025.
The main work to improve the paving around the Rose Bowl and Guildhall Road is now underway, benefitting from natural granite stone, enhancing the look of the area. The paths along Guildhall Road will also be widened making it easily accessible for everyone.
The plans will:
- Replace the existing failing boundary walls
- Improve accessibility with a series of ramps and steps
- Frame key views and vistas
- New planting to reflect the change in seasons including a mix of species to improve biodiversity and habitats
- Contribute to better surface water management using sustainable drainage systems (SuDS)
- Tell the story of the garden’s history, especially as a former shipping dock
- Define the key routes and boundaries
- Offer shade and shelter for people using the space
- Provide a range of high quality street furniture
- Facilitate sustainable tree management
- Facilitate improved and larger events
Planting for the Future
To ensure Queens Gardens has a sustainable future a tree planting scheme will take place. Hull City Council has a 3:1 ratio, for every tree removed, three will be planted.
In total, 453 trees will be planted. 130 trees will be planted in Queens Gardens including a mix of native and non-native trees. 323 trees will also be planted in city centre locations and immediate surrounding areas.
The Poplar trees planted within the central avenue are entering the latter stages of their anticipated lifespan. Some have already been lost and replanted with a different species because Poplar trees are comparatively short lived and are not traditionally planted in urban garden settings.
Any trees in the latter stages of their life are more susceptible to dropping branches, which creates a serious public health and safety risk in a city centre public park.
Therefore the opportunity to replace the Poplars has been taken. The Poplars will be replaced with a new avenue of Metasequoia glyptostroboides (Dawn Redwood) and Taxodium distichum (Swamp Cypress) which are a fast growing, deciduous, coniferous species that grow well in wetter soils up to height that can exceed 35m. This species has a much longer natural lifespan than the existing Poplars, and will be planted at semi-mature height of 9-11m tall with a minimum girth of 80-90cm. This line of specimen trees
will replicate the formal avenue evident within the original Frederick Gibberd design.
A number of trees have been removed from the perimeter of the gardens. The trees were of poor quality and their size, mass and lack of root protection, as well as the inadequate construction of the 1950s retaining walls had resulted
in significant structural damage to the perimeter walls.
The walls will be rebuilt and will include new ramps to improve the accessibility of the gardens. Seasonal colour and interest will be introduced, providing beautiful autumnal colours. The semi-mature trees will be planted to provide a spectrum
of colour to provide yellow, orange, burnt orange, red and burgundy accents each autumn.
Northern Boundary (near Gosschalks and The Glass House)
There will be a focus on British native trees and shrubs with low level grasses, herbaceous perennials and bulb planting beneath to enhance biodiversity within the gardens. The planting will provide nectar and pollen for birds, bees and insects.
New trees including multi stemmed Birch and fastigiate Elm will be planted around the Rose Bowl Fountain to provide seasonal interest and structure at the west end of the gardens.
These new trees will be used as new focal features around the traditional seasonal bedding displays.
Rose Bowl fountain
The Rose Bowl fountain is instantly recognisable and has recently been given a new lease of life. The fountain was drained to allow for a comprehensive refurbishment which includes the replacement of the water treatment, pump and fountain system to secure its long-term future.
As part of the cleaning process, the base of the outer bowl was shotblasted which revealed the original paint colours which are buff yellow, light and dark green. These colours and the original pattern have been re-instated as part of the conservation works.
The perimeter walls have also been repaired, fully rendered and painted to improve the overall visual appearance. The restoration has also improved the lighting system that will light the fountain each evening, joining the wider lighting programme linking it in with other city centre key landmarks and buildings.
History of Queens Gardens
Take a step back in time and learn more about Queens Gardens here.