A flower power demonstration to appeal to Glasgow City Council to withdraw its threat to grass over 28 of the main flower beds at the park at the end of this season is being held on Sunday 24 June at 2pm at the flower beds.
The Friends Committee is asking everyone who wants to ensure the future of these magnificent gardens to join us, if possible wearing colourful, flowery clothes, face paints and carrying placards.
We would also ask everyone to contact the Council or their local councillors to appeal for the gardens to be saved.
The text of our letter to the councillors who represent the Victoria Park ward setting out what we want to achieve with their help is given below. Please do all you can to support us and use all your influence in local organisations to raise awareness. This is not a done deal. If enough people show they care we can get this decision changed. Contact us to help with the campaign.
Dear Councillors for the Victoria Park Ward
Land Services Plans to grass over 28 of the main flower beds in Victoria Park
On behalf of the Friends of Victoria Park, I hope you don’t mind me writing to you as a group but I have spoken to you all and had emails from you individually and I know that you are all keen to provide whatever support you can to resolve this issue.
As you know, a few months ago we were very disappointed to hear that Land and Environmental Services is planning to grass over 28 of the main flower beds in Victoria Park ‘unless volunteers can take them on.’
At our recent AGM on 16 May, the Friends voted unanimously to oppose this move and campaign against it. We are planning a Flower Power Demo at the Gardens on Sunday 24 June at 2pm to which you are all invited.
The flower beds are the jewel in the crown of Victoria Park. You will see from the attached aerial image taken by one of our facebook members Charlie Miller (and used with his permission) just how high impact these beds are on our landscape - even in the depth of winter when there is no planting. It is recognised by Historic Environments Scotland and is listed in the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes (the only other listed landscapes in the city are the Botanic Gardens, Kelvingrove, Glasgow Green and the Necropolis). You will note from the ordnance survey map dated 1892 that they have been there is this format for well over a hundred years and are part of our heritage.
The gardens provide a peaceful sanctuary and bring beauty to the lives of so many people. There is no better way to relax than to sit for a while in our magnificent gardens.
The option of finding volunteers who could for example ‘adopt a bed’ is extremely problematic and simply would not work at this stage. As you know, the Friends of Victoria Park has committed to developing a fernery at the Fossil Grove quarry area of the park which used to have magnificent seasonal gardens that the Council has stopped looking after. We will need all the volunteers we can find to achieve this over the next year or two. Being asked to take on or lose the flower beds at this stage seems like a slap in the face for us.
The point of such a large high impact garden is that it needs to be planned in fine detail to give beauty, colour and coherence. Random bedding surrounding the beds that the council will continue to maintain simply wont work. However we recognise the severe financial restrictions facing the council and appreciate that traditional seasonal bedding is labour intensive and not as environmentally friendly as other forms of planting.
So what do we want?
In the shorter term, we want Land and Environmental Services to continue seasonal planting. We believe that there are rota issues in the way staff are deployed that are making this difficult but this is not insurmountable.
We would like to sit down with our councillors and Land Services and convince them that with a different approach, we can retain the integrity and scale of the gardens in the long term while reducing the recurring costs associated with colourful seasonal planting. I know that the City still employs a number of highly talented horticulturalists who could be encouraged to come up with a planting scheme for all 60 beds that would be more sustainable and environmentally friendly and provide interest throughout the year. I am no gardener and have no way of knowing how soil conditions and levels of exposure on the site might affect the choice of plants, but there must be other options than annuals. I have been advised by a gardener on our committee that across Europe and indeed in some British Parks, annual planting is being replaced with herbaceous planting. Other possibilities might be placing low specimen trees such as acer in the centre of a flower bed and surrounding it with seasonal planting. Some beds might work well with colourful heathers. I know that your horticultural staff could use their knowledge to draw up something that would enhance the underlying pattern of the gardens and be very pleasing throughout much of the year.
This approach may well require a substantial upfront capital sum but thereafter, maintenance would be less onerous - weeding, tidying and cutting back at the end of the season. It may well be possible given time to get some of this work covered by volunteers. If the design, planning of plant types and layout are well considered, this could be as effective as the seasonal bedding and would have the added advantage of supporting biodiversity in a way that seasonal planting does not. Indeed this is something to consider in seeking funding for such a project.
Finally, I know that you have all been supporting developments in the Victoria Park Working Group (now Action Group) which is seeking to form a new charity that will implement a development plan to improve the park. The news of this drastic cut to service just as this is in embryo comes as a real blow. How can we plan improvements when it seems the Council can no longer even support what we have. Grassing over the flower beds will sap the morale and enthusiasm of many members of the action group. The timing could not be worse.
We passionately believe that the layout and beauty of these flower beds is worth preserving for our children and our grandchildren. We have a wonderful park that has been our legacy and we can all work together to keep it that way. I hope you agree and can offer ways to assist us to take this forward.