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A garden that explores diversity through plant life

 At the beginning of September, a gorgeous and imaginative garden opened in Birmingham’s Victoria Square in the U.K. The festival PoliNations celebrates diversity through exploring plant life. The garden was commissioned by UNBOXED: Creativity, as part of hosting the Commonwealth Games. The garden is made up of 6,000 plants and flowers, five large metal tree installations over 40 feet high and sculptures of iconic plants that have become popular in U.K. gardens.

An augmented reality tree sculpture in a garden

Hundreds of people across Birmingham planted marigolds in the garden, which they have been growing in their homes and community spaces. The garden was inspired by research that indicates that 80% of plants in U.K. gardens come from overseas. PoliNations aims to celebrate how migration and cross-pollination have shaped Britain’s garden culture.

Related: International Garden Festival and adaptation in our world

A tree sculpture lit up in blue light at night

However, the garden is not just a display piece. Daily tours led by Birmingham Botanical Gardens include lunchtime talks exploring issues from sustainability to decolonization. In the evenings, there is a light and sound show. Live music and spoken word performances accompanied dance and drag performances to highlight diverse talent from the South Asian and Black communities in the area.

A rose petal inscribed with a poem

Furthermore, BBC partnered with the exhibit to present a spoken word and poetry performance. It featured award-winning saxophonist and poet Soweto Kinch, and slam champion and Birmingham Poet Laureate Finalist Jasmine Gardosi.

Fake flowers blooming amidst real flowers in a garden

The final weekend ending on Sept. 18 hosted a Caribbean carnival, Holi celebration, Catwalk and seed party, a colorful end to a celebration of life both human and plant. This final event was hosted by actor and director Rikki Beadle-Blair. There was live music from Balimaya Project, Horse Meat Disco, Kofi Stone and others.

A tree art installation being displayed with people sitting and walking underneath it

After the PoliNations exhibit ends, the garden’s plants were distributed to local community groups and the public to take home. For anyone who couldn’t attend in person, PoliNations invited them to download an app to express themselves by creating a plant inspired by their emotions and desires. Each seed grows into a digital flower, which can be planted in your own home using augmented reality.

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