We need your help to create one of the finest ferneries in Scotland at Victoria Park’s Fossil Grove.
The first batch of ferns to be planted at the Fossil Grove around the pond area are being delivered this week.
Members of the British Pteridological Society will be on site on Saturday 1st June to share their expertise in planting ferns.
We need lots of helpers to turn out. No experience is necessary but please bring spades, trowels or forks if you can.
From 7pm Tuesday 28, Wednesday 29 and Thursday 30 May for site preparation
From 10am on Saturday 1st June to work with the fern experts planting our first delivery of ferns
We will be working just beyond the Fossil House around the pond
The Friends of Victoria Park aim to transform one of Scotland’s most significant ‘lost gardens’ into one of the finest ferneries in Scotland.
More than a century ago in the 1880s, workers clearing ground donated by a benefactor to develop Victoria Park discovered a remarkable collection of tree fossils – dating back 325 million years. With considerable foresight, the authorities undertook to cover these with a Fossil House to protect them rather than have them moved to a museum. The fossils were subsequently designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is thought to be one of the country’s earliest examples of geo-conservation. The Fossil House opened on January 1st 1890.
The quarry area surrounding the Fossil House was developed into a magnificent rock garden with a small pond with a little rustic bridge and meandering interesting footpaths along deep crevasses.
It has been loved by children and adults alike for generations. The gardens were a blaze of colour from Spring to Autumn and were popular with brides as the backdrop for wedding photos. It is said that a team of more than 30 gardeners looked after the area which is still listed in Historic Environment Scotland’s Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes.
All this was maintained throughout the 20th century but over the past decade, the annual planting stopped and the area had become completely overgrown with brambles and other wild shrubs. The pond filled up with vegetation and dried up impacting on the Fossil House itself which depends on the pond to draw water away from the building and prevent the ancient fossils being affected by damp.
Local people have been very disheartened at the poor state of the Fossil Grove gardens which many remember so fondly and with such pride. And for those interested in the cliffs and rocks, the heavy growth has prevented geologists from identifying the various rock strata and put the rockery itself at risk.
The Friends of Victoria Park approached the council a few years ago with some suggestions on how the quarry area could be improved in a more sustainable way.
We identified four main pieces of work that would need to be undertaken.
Glasgow City Council has been very supportive of these efforts.
In 2017 we held a number of volunteer days to clear some of the overgrown site. Impressed by how much was achieved, the Council brought in a contractor to assist. Major clearing work was undertaken to expose the rock faces and further work is being
undertaken this year and next to keep on top of it.
In March 2018, having successfully obtained funding through the Area Partnership, the Friends of Victoria Park were delighted to have the pond re-established. This was done with a clay lining and frogs and palmate newts quickly took up residence. The extremely dry summer has led to some issues with the pond drying out but the Council has worked with us improve this.
In 2019 having raised funds some initial funds from the Area Partnership and Fossil Grove Trust, we have placed the first order of ferns to be planted in June.
Why are we so keen to plant a fernery?
So why do we think a fernery would enhance this area? This idea was originally put
forward by the Friends of Victoria Parks former chairman, Landscape Architect Richard East. It quickly found favour with our members and the wider community, including the many groups involved in the Victoria Park Action Group which is bringing a number of community organisations together to support the park.
We have involved specialists from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh, the Glasgow Botanic Gardens and other groups and found there is huge
enthusiasm and support for these plans. It is hard to explain without a visit just how
atmospheric the Fossil Grove.
There are several reasons why it is ideal for a fernery.
“The British Pteridological Society is very excited by this visionary proposal to turn the old quarry area behind Fossil Grove into an outdoor fernery. A more ideal location for this could hardly be imagined. Most obviously, the proposed fern plantings will complement the fern-related fossil history of the grove itself. In addition, it will reflect the site's equally visionary conservation by our Victorian forebears who, as it happens, had a peculiar (if wholly understandable) obsession with ferns. It was this same obsession that inspired the establishment, a few miles away, of the Kibble Palace's tree fern collection in the 1880s, around the same time as Fossil Grove was discovered. We are very happy to endorse this project and our members will be keen to help ensure its success.”
Andy MacGregor, The British Pteridological Society