Thanks to our Green Thumbs volunteers, a floral display in our new entrance displays a selection of seasonal flowers and foliage from The Gardens.
In the last couple of months, the entrances leading to The Hidden Gardens have had a makeover. A lovely new large metal sign indicates to visitors coming in from Pollokshaws Road that they are about to enter The Gardens, and our entrance at the back of the Tramway building has been overhauled, with users coming through Tramway and into a kind of foyer, or transitional space, before walking out into the gardens.
The point of this transitional space is to surround visitors with a sense of The Gardens before they actually enter them. The designer of this project suggested that one way to achieve this was by picking and pressing seasonal flowers and foliage from the Gardens, and presenting them alongside the information about the history and role of the space.
Since I have a background in floral design, Paula, our head gardener suggested that this was a project I could take on.
The first task was to create a flower press. Drilling four holes in two pieces of scrap wood left over from building a planter, it was easy to create a large, functioning press. Other volunteers provided bolts, nuts and old newspapers picked up on public transport, with cardboard reused from oversized delivery packaging.
Paula led the selection of flowers and foliage to be pressed, and we started by focussing on the beautiful hellebores that were flowering abundantly. A quick google established that it was likely to take around three weeks for the plants to be suitably dried out by the press, and so during each weekly Green Thumbs session for around a month I worked to choose, pick and press flowers and foliage that might ultimately look good framed and mounted, as well as changing the paper surrounding them to remove as much damp as quickly as possible.
Last week we decided that the first lot of pressed flowers were ready to go. Assembling our Green Thumbs volunteer team (among whom we have a designer, an exhibition curator, a woodworker and an art historian), volunteer Marion carefully cut out squares of paper, and we each chose flowers and created a design to sit in one of the eight mounted Perspex squares in the Tramway entrance.
You can see our efforts for yourself as you walk through to the back of Tramway, into the Hidden Garden foyer, and look at the display to your left. Our longer term goal is to create a library of these pressed flower designs, so that they can be changed with the seasons, indicating to our visitors not only what they can expect to see in The Gardens before they walk through the doors, but also demonstrating volunteer teamwork and our pride in showing off what The Gardens have to offer.
Pausing to ask any of the gardeners and volunteers involved in this project how they feel about their display within the new entranceway, it is amazing how often the response is not only a large smile, but also a desire to talk about how pleased they feel about it, the plants we used and the response they had sharing images of the project on social media:
“The new entrance gives a flavour of what’s to come upon entering the gardens, bringing a little of the outside in.”
“It’s very engaging and help to create a welcoming entrance to the gardens.”
“The artwork helps to highlight the gardens. Gives a bit of identity.”
“It helps us feel a sense of ownership and belonging.”
“The displays of pressed flowers feels a bit like a scavenger hunt, making me want to look out for the living, outdoor versions of the preserved, indoor ones.”
How we volunteers now experience walking into The Gardens, through the new entrance way, has certainly shifted. We see that our display connects the visitor to the garden, reflects the seasons outside and gives a glimpse of what’s growing. We feel proud of what we’ve created, stopping and looking at our artwork before moving outside through the new doors, and it has helped us feel a sense of belonging to the garden we work hard to maintain.
By Ellie, Volunteer