Bog standard? A place to grow!

Some of the volunteers who have helped the project
Some of the volunteers who have helped the project

The latest phase of the marathon restoration of Castlebank Park in Lanark saw the creation of a bog garden!

“The stretch of boggy ground where the old curling pond used to be has been crying out for some kind of makeover,” said Sylvia Russell, who chairs Lanark Community Development Trust which is co-ordinating major improvements at the park.

Readers may remember the Trust had plans to turn the former pond into a Japanese Water Garden. That followed an earlier consultation, when local people were asked for their comments, and the restoration of the pond was suggested by many of them.

The plan for the Japanese Water Garden won the won the backing of the Beechgrove Garden team. The water garden made its shortlist, and in February last year the Beechgrove team visited the park, but, unfortunately, the project was not picked for filming.

The volunteers still hoped they could carry on with it but South Lanarkshire Council refused permission for it.

“However, they did agree that we could develop the area as a bog garden and were kind enough to supply us with £1000 worth of bog plants,” said Sylvia.

“We were also successful in getting a grant of £250 from Action Earth to buy more bog plants and our large band of volunteers and some pupils from Lanark Grammar School have been working very hard over the past two months to develop the area.”

The grassed area now has a number of beds, with young plants which thrive in wet conditions,

“Our volunteers all received Action Earth Certificates in recognition of all their hard work,” added Sylvia.

Next on the cards for that part of the park is the restoration of the stone grotto which overlooked the pond.

In recent years South Lanarkshire Council has replaced the play equipment, and has installed a picnic area near the main gates.

The dell has been restored, and turned into a Fairy Dell, with a seating area carved from fallen trees, and a huge carved owl and green man presiding over it, along with a fairy on her toadstool.

The Trust has created a horticultural centre, complete with a new entrance, along St Patrick’s Road, and the former derelict tennis court, the scene of rubbish dumping before that, is now a growing centre with two huge polytunnels, able to offer classes with Royal Horticultural Society approval.

The smaller building on the site, former sawmill premises, has been converted into toilets for the volunteers, and the Trust is currently applying to the National Lottery for a grant to turn the large building into a gallery with a seating area, and to create a separate building to accommodate a classroom and storage areas, with a canopy linking the buildings. Last month a consultation afternoon took place to find out what the public thought and who would use the new facilities.

The park is being used more and more by families since the restoration programme got underway, and the next event there is aimed at all ages - the Trust is holding a Hallowe’en Spooktacular on Saturday, October 31.

It begins at 5.30pm and will last two hours. Those joining in should meet in the main car park at Castlebank, and the attractions will include a spooky storyteller, pumpkin soup, and scary cakes.

Fancy dress, obviously!!, is expected, and there will be prizes in the children’s and adults categories, as well as for the best pumpkin lantern.

Tickets are £5 for adults, £3 for children, and £10 for families.