Sunday, 28 July 2019

Tollcross Park. The Rose Gardens.

                                                   ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
As my friend Anne enjoys a wander around the various parks and I'm happy to go anywhere with her... that provides interesting photography... we have been teaming up this summer to bag the best ones in true mountain list ticking style.  Tollcross Park sits in Glasgow's East End and provides a green oasis in an otherwise built up district. July is a perfect time for a visit as it's famous for its International Rose Garden, having more roses in one place at this time of year than any other park in the city. ( See map above, the red areas being the rose beds.)
This Giraffe mural near the park on Shettleston Road came as a surprise as it wasn't here the last time I visited and really brightens up an older, often dingy part of the city. Around five years old apparently so I maybe just missed it last time. We parked not far from the Children's Farm on Wellshot Road, but you can park unobtrusively in several other places on the streets surrounding this popular park or frequent bus routes take you past it or get off at Carntyne Railway Station nearby.
Anne had never visited this particular park before and tended to stay away from the East End in general, a common occurrence in large cities unless you live or work in different districts. i.e, West End folk tend to stay in the West End, South Side folk the same, East End folk similar story. This pattern goes way back to the earliest slum clearances in Glasgow and probably other cities as well. Folk from Govan, Kinning Park, Gorbals, etc ( inner city south side working class districts) in the main moved out to new council estates on the south side outer rim, like Pollok, Nitshill, and Darnley. Same as inner east end districts, like Townhead, Dalmarnock, Shettleston moved out to Easterhouse, Garthamlock, Ruchazie from older demolished districts but still on the same end of the city- just further out into the green outer rim. If they move upmarket it may still be to better class districts but within the areas they know and feel comfortable in or have a bond/affinity with... in this case Bishopbriggs or Lenzie, classier districts but still East End suburbia.
 I have that feeling myself. Originally a Glasgow South Sider but equally happy living in the West End for the past 30 years, although I've worked in every district city wide in the past and know them all fairly well I would still feel like a fish out of water at the start staying in the North East of Glasgow or the East End. You usually stick to what you know and feel happy with unless it's to do with house prices/new job location/ availability of accommodation etc--- human natural instinct to stay around a familiar watering hole that's provided a sanctuary in the past paints a largely unconscious preference for most of us but not all. Add in displaced groups from Ireland and the Scottish Highlands in the 1900s drawn to the city to work and having to establish new communities from scratch and you find people still settling in to the various districts with limited urge to move someplace else again.
Although she enjoyed the park and the roses Anne did admit, wandering around the urban city district afterwards ( I was on a fruitless gable end mural hunt through Shettleston after the giraffe spot for more giant sized animals) that, while she enjoyed exploring the novelty of a new place she did not feel entirely comfortable padding round completely unfamiliar territory without a clue where she was and seemed keen, after a while, to reclaim the safety bubble of the car.
HM Prison Barlinnie  The rooftops of Glasgow's maximum security jail. Weirdly, although the housing stock across the city has vastly improved in appearance and character since the 1980s-1990s era.... all the old violent, tightly packed, notorious council estates are long gone and Glasgow's population has almost halved in size..... but we still have more prisoners in Scotland per head of population than any other country in Europe. Can't really work that one out when the visual living environment is much improved. 20 years ago Glasgow was also the murder capital of Western Europe. Got to be good at something!
Wildflower strips in Tollcross Park. Blue Cornflowers.
Abundant summer meadows. Although these wildflower plantings are supposed to be helping bees and other insects it has to be said, (after observing several strips like this in various parks for a while now) I've not personally seen much insect life or bee activity so far. Nice to look at though. Maybe insects stay within their own self defined boundaries as well and take time to colonize/find new areas set in grassland deserts? i.e. they have to fly some distance to get to these new parkland strips, not just a garden to garden hop over a fence. You would think these borders would be alive with flying insects and bumble bees but my own garden has far more. Not a single butterfly, swift, or swallow observed in this park either during a sunny day where you would normally expect to find them in high summer, skimming the meadows. The well established flower areas in the walled gardens, botanic borders and waste ground empty sites city wide do have plenty of insects, bees, butterflies etc so there maybe something in that theory.
Yellow Borders.
A colour mixture. It was around this point that Anne mentioned thrushes and blackbirds. Mainly the lack of them in parks as they used to be very common in any parkland setting or suburban garden. I haven't seen one in my own garden for years now come to think of it... cats or magpies being the main suspects along with habitat change and food issues as both nest fairly low, either on the ground itself or less than 15 feet high. The distinctive alarm call of a disturbed blackbird is a rare sound in many woods these days yet they survived the impact of two World Wars relatively unscathed in numbers, until now.
Tollcross Park is a good size for a city park, one of the larger examples and I'd imagine is a great, much needed, escape from the surrounding built up tenement districts, which unlike the West End, or the South Side, has very little in the way of other patches of greenery, certainly in the Calton, Parkhead, Shettleston districts, ( although they are changing slowly to be more open plan) giving them a more drab appearance for visitors used to more tree lined streets. (Compare bare, tenement lined East End Duke Street, reputedly the UK's longest city street with the West End's Great Western Road- the latter a riot of year round leafy colour, wide grass verges, and daffodil dotted splendour.) Something you almost take for granted until they are totally absent in an area. So I'd imagine East Enders love this park for its splash of bright colour, and open aspect.

As well as grassy meadows it also has wilder areas where youngsters can feel genuine freedom away from busy streets of tenements and constant traffic activity.
And spacious views across the city. Glasgow's City Centre here, near George Square, and surrounding buildings with a plane taking off from the airport.
Cranhill Hi Rise Flats around Bellrock Street. Many of the streets in Cranhill named after Scottish lighthouses or hazardous sea features. Most of the old tenements knocked down or redone/remodeled in nearly all the Glasgow city housing estates.
A view across to Glasgow's South East districts. Rutherglen, Cambuslang etc and the large wind farm stretching over the moors from Glasgow to Kilmarnock, one of the UK's biggest turbine locations. Police Scotland HQ- the low building in dark blue beside the River Clyde at Dalmarnock. Middle right in above photo.
Forge Market ( blue sign/pole on far left) Castlemilk (three hi rise flats visible) and Cathcart. Looking South across the city.
Rose splurge.
The formal part of Tollcross Park.
The Glen, a shallow depression along the stream that flows through the park. A nice feature as it's one of the wilder areas and you can almost forget you are in the heart of a surrounding busy built up district.
Wilderness within the city.
Tollcross Winter Gardens. The first time I came here they were still open but they've been abandoned for years now and sadly neglected. Once a proud feature as only a handful of city parks ever had them. Not sure if budget cuts, vandalism, or just being in the wrong area ( not as visited, statistically important, or as fashionable as The Botanic Gardens, Victoria Park, or Glasgow Green perhaps) but closed nevertheless.
Townhead and the black roofs and spires of the Royal Infirmary. Before stone cleaning city wide occurred several decades ago most of old Glasgow looked like this- buildings blackened by 100 years of chimney soot, smoke belching factories, steel works, and the industrial revolution. A largely grey and black world back then- like the difference between black and white TV and colour. In the 1950s and early 1960s flowers often provided the biggest splash of primary vivid injection to the eyeballs as children. "Flower Power." Maybe that's when I first developed my dopamine addiction. My colour fix. And it's stayed with me for life.
Tollcross Park. Worth a visit at any time of year if you have not been... but especially in July and early August for the roses.



Carol said...

I love roses and am planning my own small one with a spectacular standard rose in the centre. However, my climbing rose has got mildew just now so probably not a good time to do it!

The wildflower garden is lovely too - we have one at work which I always love in spring...

Anabel Marsh said...

I have been, but not in rose season, which is a bit daft really. Love the giraffe, will have to look out for that.

Rosemary said...

I do admire and enjoy roses but do not grow myself. I think that they require more attention than I am prepared to give i.e pruning, keeping them free of greenfly, blackfly, and mildew etc - I tend to prefer free flowing natural beds of flowers that I can leave to their own devices.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
I like looking at roses but they certainly have some wicked thorns on them- as good as a barbed wire fence as a barrier.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Anabel,
It is a spectacular amount seeing hundreds of roses in one place. Shame about the park cafeteria closing and the Children's farm was shut on or visit- unless it does not open on certain days.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Rosemary,
I never used to bother with roses much but Anne likes them, which explains the visit to see them at their best. Must be a few thousand bushes in one spot at a guess, all different colours making elaborate patterns seen from above but sadly no tower to look down from. I know the centre pattern, the largest area, makes up a giant rose.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

I am very happy to see this kind of greenery in Glasgow to ameliorate my memories of the city which I visited many years ago and found it to be the most dismal, dirty, blighted place of anywhere in the UK and the only place where I was advised not to walk the streets at night. While in Scotland I also spent time in Edinburgh and the contrast in the two cities was remarkable, as though from two different worlds.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi David,
During the 1980s and 1990s Glasgow was a rough place in certain areas but it has improved a great deal since then with London getting all the recent headlines for gang activity. Glasgow has always had dozens of parks and gardens though and world class scenery a ten minute drive away in every direction. Not many cities have such great scenery or such variety of landscapes within a short distance. Not something the local residents always appreciate though and the UK is noted for its ongoing litter problem.