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Glenarn, a Social and Gardening Story - Evening Talk 12th Dec

This talk was a journey – I would like to take it again, and wish that those who missed it could have another opportunity, even though Sue and Mike did once decide to do no more talks!

We started in a Glasgow we wouldn’t recognise, in the early 18 hundreds, when Blythswood Square was a dairy, and Queen St Station was woodland. Here lived Andrew McGeorge, who enjoyed holidaying in Helensburgh (Yes!), fascinated by the latest technological advances like steamers on the Clyde (interesting old drawings and prints). So to Glenarn, and the 19th century phase of the garden. Andrew had bought it, probably as a holiday home, and with the aid of a book “How to Lay out a Garden” , set out to do just that. Twenty six new species of rhododendron, were grown from seeds from Indian expeditions, and much more.

As the McGeorge family died out, the estate went into decline, then entered its 20th Century phase, being bought by James Gibson – who sadly died before even seeing Glenarn! The Gibson sons really put Glenarn on the horticultural map, introducing plants and trees from overseas, swapping with other major gardens, attracting visitors from our own and other continents, and recognised by various Societies and Botanic Gardens. By the 1970’s the Gibsons were “getting on” as was the garden – mature but getting overgrown.

In 1983 Sue and Mike were asked by a friend to meet up and see this place - and entered this “magic world”- even though the vegetable garden, rock garden, old pond, and pathways were disappearing, house and outbuildings disintegrating. So began the 21st Century phase – of major restoration, years of hard labour. Helpful was a card index system giving details of each of 570 plants! “Gardens exist in the record”, and can be restored ( unlike ourselves).

When we visit Glenarn today, we can appreciate the results of the work so far done - “hard graft” by Sue and Mike, with some help from others, like the pond reclamation work by Jamie Taggart. What we see now includes extensive pathways, a wonderful rock garden, and a stunning Spring and Summer blaze of colour! An ongoing work in progress, which come Easter, we can once again visit and enjoy!


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