A riot of colour in autumn, the modernist garden came into its own this spring during lockdown
During lockdown in the spring, the garden at the Hepworth Wakefield gallery – designed last year by renowned landscape architect, Tom Stuart-Smith – became a lifeline for locals. “The bulbs were particularly powerful,” says Nora Keany-Corr, who lives nearby. “All the messages then were of doom and death; I worried for friends and family and it all felt pretty dark. But when you walked into the garden and hundreds of narcissi and tulips were out – it just lifted your mood.”
Today, walkways weave among autumnal displays of blazing red rhus trees, echinacea and rudbeckia seed heads, and clouds of bright blue Michaelmas daisy. This colourful oasis is a far cry from the vacant and isolating acre of grass that previously lay here, an intersection between the Hepworth and a 19th-century woollen mill complex abutting Wakefield’s River Calder. A local describes to me the muddy diagonal path that formerly shuffled commuters and residents towards the waterfront through this historically industrial area of Wakefield. “A lot of people take this route into town. But you wouldn’t come over in the evenings; you’d feel quite exposed,” she told me. The garden is now a place she meets friends, and fosters the imaginations of her young children and their interest in nature.