All posts by thehiddengardensblog

The award winning Hidden Gardens is a public greenspace and community development organisation which exists to promote understanding between people of all cultures, faiths and backgrounds. A beautiful and tranquil space where people can relax away from the busy city streets, the Gardens is a place of learning and exchange where individuals and communities can come together to share stories, skills and histories through a varied year-round programme of events and activities. Twitter @Hidden_Gardens Facebook /TheHiddenGardensGlasgow

Volunteering at The Hidden Gardens for Duke of Edinburgh Award

My name is Vicki and as part of my Duke of Edinburgh award, I decided to volunteer at The Hidden Gardens due to the unique volunteering experience it offered and how it differs greatly from regular places to volunteer such as charity shops. From gardening to helping out at a multitude of events, I have learned a lot of new techniques and met many amazing and courteous people. I have had an enthralling and enjoyable time whilst participating and helping here.

My name is Eilidh and with my friend, Vicki, I volunteered at The Hidden Gardens for the Duke of Edinburgh as a change to the usual volunteering opportunities available for most young people such as helping at charity shops. At The Hidden Gardens we helped out with lots of fun and educational activities.

We helped at weekend gardening: repotting plants into new pots, labelling plants that needed labels, weeding and so much more that if I put it all in it will start to look like a shopping list!

We helped at the “Into the Wild” outdoor events that took place at The Hidden Gardens such as Bat Night, Coffee and Chocolate and Starry Nights. Our main task for each event was to help serve food to visitors. There was a wide variety of food from curry to cake. If we were there early enough, we gave a helping hand in setting everything up before everyone came. At the bat event we helped visitors of all ages make pin badges.

We also had opportunities to take part in the events. An example of something we enjoyed was making truffles because there was a huge range of flavours to try. For the Starry Night event, we thoroughly enjoyed the planetarium and we learned a lot of interesting facts. For bat night, we used meters to detect the frequencies that bats produced. In the end, we saw two bats! In conclusion, we thought that the Into Wild events were interesting and amazing and we are looking forward to any future events.

Weekend Gardening

Vicki: During the weekends, I helped with the gardening. There were a variety of tasks to help out with such raking and refilling flower beds. I have learned a lot about gardening and different species of plants. I have become more social and happy to talk to new people. In addition it has helped me get fitter as well. I would highly recommend this for anyone who enjoys being outdoors and mingling with new people. It is a hefty job but very rewarding and fun!

Eilidh: I really enjoyed the weekend gardening as I got to meet new people and do things in a different environment. This helped me become a better person and gave me the opportunity to meet many wonderful new people. At some points you really needed some muscle for example when someone put too much topsoil in the wheelbarrow!

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The Faery Trail

Vicki: One of the events we helped set up was a nighttime event called The Faery Trail. We decorated a blackboard to go at the street entrance to Tramway to catch the attention of passersby to come and see the faeries. The faeries were created by a very talented artist Lucas Chih- Peng Kao and were then projected onto different landscapes such as small hills and tree trunks. The Hidden Gardens was decorated with many pretty lights and lanterns to form a fantasy and magical atmosphere. We helped with handing out leaflets and showing people around. It was a fantastic experience!

Eilidh: At the events normally we would help serve food but at The Faery Trail event we were asked to create the sign that people would see when walking towards The Hidden Gardens. At this event we were given the job of showing people which way to go in the dark and helping to keep them safe. To me this is where I really came out of my shell as I had to meet the public. I was the first face they would see before going into The Faery trail and I had to talk to them. All in all it was a very enjoyable experience and after the DofE award, I will probably continue to volunteer here.

Many thanks to our young volunteers Vicki and Eilidh and accompanying adults who reliably turned up for every opportunity, were happy to try new things and turn their hand to any task we asked them. Thank you!


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.Feb_20 (2)

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.

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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.

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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:

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“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

John Muir Award

I am part of a group of volunteers at The Hidden Gardens who are working towards gaining Level 1 John Muir Award.

Named after the Scots born naturalist, who is generally considered to be the ‘Father of Modern Conservation’, the John Muir Trust encourages groups and individuals to become involved with the conservation and protection of wildlife areas.

Following Muir’s principles the volunteers will work to meet the Trust’s four challenges of: Discover, Explore, Conserve and Share to obtain their award.


Guided by two staff members the group surveyed the gardens for pollinators with a particular focus on butterflies. Different species were discovered and identified and research was done to gain insight into the habitats and plants needed to support their lifecycle. Many of us were not aware that some species, such as Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell overwinter in hibernation as butterflies! Other species hibernate as caterpillars and pupa.


We went on to explore the gardens to determine what was needed to enhance the environment for our butterfly population. We carried out a survey of all the plants to establish which were beneficial for adult and caterpillar food and also looked for plants that would be vital as hibernation sites as many of the pupa secure themselves to plants over winter. Wild areas in the garden were explored to see if there were places, such as log piles, where adult butterflies could hibernate.


Our present and ongoing task is to conserve and develop the gardens so that they become a haven for butterflies! We have a dedicated meadow area which contains many native species such as nettles, meadow grasses and vetches that can often be seen as weeds but are the vital host plants for the eggs of Painted Lady, Ringlet, Orange-tip and many others. This area is managed to maintain a good diversity of plants by selective ‘weeding out’, plant division and seed collection. We learned that the Cuckoo-Flower is host to Small White, Orange-tip and Green-veined White and are now planning to distribute seedlings into the meadow next Spring. One revelation was that many Red Admiral butterflies migrate to Southern Europe in October! As ivy flowers are a late source of nectar for these and other butterflies we now leave the cutting back of Ivy until late winter.

To allow for successful hibernation we have ring-fenced particular wooded areas to remain undisturbed throughout the winter months.

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By undertaking the Award scheme the volunteers are now able to share their knowledge with the garden’s many visitors and encourage them in the nurturing of butterfly- friendly habitats. Plants that we have divided or propagated from collected seed will be on sale in the kiosk together with information about their pollinator friendly attributes.

We hope that this sharing of information will result in a healthy diverse population of butterflies in the area.

Roll on Spring!

Greenthumbs volunteers

Wildscope by Zoe Pearson

Opening 11th August 2018 as part of the Big Summer Get Together at the rill area of The Hidden Gardens, Wildscope is a permanent outdoor exhibition marking The Hidden Gardens 15th anniversary, featuring a series of newly commissioned artworks by Zoe Pearson.

We interviewed both Zoe and the curator Yi-An Shiau who has placed the work in the context of new materialsm and craftivism.

What is the exhibition about?

  • Zoe explained that the exhibition is about Taoism, the Bagua map and is related to Feng Shui. Basically the rill area is separated into four sections based on the compass points of North, South, East and West. The Bagua Map organises the elements, concepts such as nature, environment and surroundings; it is similar to the Islamic Garden design.
  • The pieces made are intended for visitors to explore the area more, with different perspectives.
  • Yi-An said she believes Zoe’s work ‘is very special and invites people to build their sensory experiences.’ Adding that ‘New Materialism thinks about perspective, non-human entities and also materials, how the materials are felt and expressed by the artist.’

There are four installations:

IMG_3981The Bird Bath Bowl, in collaboration with ceramist Ele Paul. The bowl holds water which is linked to North on the Bagua Map and is intended for animals of the Gardens to use, and people to use as an opportunity to reflect and observe.

IMG_4162The Learning Log was carved by Zoe as a tactile piece to emphasise the qualities of the wood so people can feel it with their hands and pick it up. ‘There is a balance to the piece, so when someone sits on it or touches it, or explores it with their hands, the weight and shape of the log is collaboration between a persons movements and touch, and the material of the wood. A mutual understanding is formed with interacting with the log. The piece suits all ages.

IMG_4005The Living Mountain is an ‘insect hotel’, a pile of logs and hollowed out trunk. It is put together with plants on top of it for insects to live. Related to the West on the Bagua Map, ‘The theme of unseen assistance and the idea is that insects provide pollination, food for birds etc. They assist the environment in many different ways most of us may be unaware of. It is an environment for insects and allows people a view into the world of insects.’

The Recycled Rug is a knotted rug made out of odd plastic bags, representing the East of the Bagua Map, and ‘signifies family and group strength and support. Using plastic (something that is wasted) and turning it into something that is useful and attractive. Giving discarded materials a life and story and the rug is a continuation of the use of storytelling in the Garden previously. the Recycled Rug opens up a new dialogue about using waste and creates a platform to discuss the common thing in their daily life.’


Presented as part of the 2018 Graduate Deegree Show of the MLitt Curatorial Practice (Contemporary Art) course programme, established jointly by the Glasgow School of Art and the University of Glasgow. 

By James, volunteer


Bone Meal, Glasgow International 2018

From Friday 20th April- Monday 7th May there was an exhibition, event and performance entitled ‘Bone Meal’ running at The Hidden Gardens as part of Glasgow International 2018.


Bone meal brings together six Glasgow based artists to show new work at The Hidden Gardens.  Using performance and writing to develop sculpture, sound, and video installations, our work engages with the living and life-supporting elements of the garden.  (Glasgow International 2018, Festival Guide, p.57).

We interviewed two of the artists/ performers Suzanne and Amy whose work was called “Time Pieces”


What is the inspiration for the installations?

The formed space of the Garden itself and its geometrics and the tools we have been working with allows for playful interaction with the Garden’s space, each other and the tools.

Why is the exhibition important?

It brings six different Glasgow artists together and invited outside artists for a collaborative project. It allows a series of pieces ‘to happen’, when you have this opportunity.  An idea gets to be manifested, working with your own time, not clock time, realising a different sense of time and finding your own time in nature.

What do you hope the public take from the exhibition?

We want to invite people to keep their own time too, it’s important for people to see that art and play can be the same thing. Working together allows artists to reflect off each other.


How has the experience of working together over these years changed the way you work?

Both of us have developed a new sensibility through a shared understanding, paying attention to an intimate close relationship, rather than a global context of social media and inter connectivity, trying to stay connected through art.

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The exhibition was interesting and thought provoking, we would like to thank all of the artist’s for their contributions and hard work.

James, volunteer



The Gardens has been awarded a multi-annual grant of £149,685 by the Big Lottery Fund towards our volunteering and learning programme. Annually the programme will offer volunteering and learning opportunities accessible to local people of all ages and abilities during week days and weekends. A self-directed volunteering opportunity called Volun-tours will also train and support local people to become story tellers providing guided tours of the gardens revealing their hidden layers of meaning and inspiring visitors to get closer to nature.

The Hidden Gardens is a multi-award winning public greenspace operated by The Hidden Gardens Trust offering free access to citizens of Glasgow and beyond, six days per week. The Gardens also offer a programme of creative and engaging activities to promote community integration and intercultural dialogue.

Over the last 15 years it is estimated that over 800 people have benefited from volunteering opportunities in the Hidden Gardens; encouraging people of all ages, abilities and ethnicity to spend more time outdoors, together and to learn new skills and make friendships along the way. This grant award will help the volunteering and learning programme to grow, increase opportunity for local people to participate in greenspace, learn new skills, make new connections and friendships and improve health and wellbeing.

The Gardens depend on the support of Trusts, Foundations and public funds to be able to deliver a programme of work to engage communities of need and those members of society that are all too easily forgotten or seldom heard.

The Hidden Gardens Trust Chair, Melanie Sims, said: “The Hidden Gardens Trust wants to express their sincere thanks to the Big Lottery Fund for this vital funding towards its expanding volunteering programme for the next three years. The programme will make a significant difference to individuals and groups within the local community.

“The programme will be delivered in The Hidden Gardens, Scotland’s first Sanctuary Gardens dedicated to peace. The upkeep of the gardens is funded by Glasgow City Council, without which this jewel in the city would not be sustainable to deliver what it does in its progressive community engagement programme.”

The Big Lottery Fund Scotland Chair, Maureen McGinn, said: “I am delighted that The Hidden Gardens has been successful in securing a Big Lottery Fund grant. This is raised through the National Lottery. The funding will make a big difference where it is needed most and I wish The Hidden Gardens every success as it goes on to develop and expand its project for the benefit of their local community.”

Scotrail planters

Bees, butterflies and moths have quite limited options for food in the city but, Pollokshields East train station’s mixed planters are a delectable buffet with their choice of nectar-rich flowers, such as the verbena and lavender. Many of the plants, for example the ivy, provide a helpful habitat for tiny insects and other little creatures.

Our volunteers, who do most of the planting, take great pride in keeping their local train station looking and smelling great – all that lavender and rosemary is quite a treat for the senses! They are keen to play a part in supporting the area’s biodiversity and often comment on this.

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Driven by feedback from volunteers, the planters are all quite visually different. The range of wildlife-friendly plants include pretty flowers and structural evergreens, with grasses and some familiar herbs. There are also plants with interesting textures, such as the incredibly soft lamb’s ear.

Through maintaining the Pollokshields East planters, our volunteers learn how to maintain wildlife-friendly raised beds. That knowledge can then be used in their own garden space. And for those without their own garden, they get the therapeutic benefits of both working with plants and doing something positive for the local community, their community. Passengers sometimes stop and ask us for the names of certain plants, and on occasion we’ve had passengers stop to thank us for what we’re doing

Lynne, Garden Assistant & Volunteer





Farewell to allotment

After 14 years engaging the local community in growing fruit and veg and discovering wildlife at Plot 10 – the Community Plot at New Victoria Gardens Allotments off Glenapp St, Pollokshields, The Hidden Gardens have recently handed the plot back to the committee so that they can engage another local organisation to continue this work with other community and school groups. The Hidden Gardens has worked with everyone from toddler groups at PDA to local primary schoolchildren from local schools in Pollokshields and Govanhill, secondary schoolchildren from schools for those with learning needs and various adult community groups.

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A lunch was held at the plot on Fri 16th August to thank all NVG plot holders, committee members and Southside Housing Association who have supported us and given us advice over the years. Past and present volunteers had an opportunity to enjoy the space they have helped to nurture over the years – digging the wildlife pond, building & maintaining the beds, growing produce etc. The plot will be missed by all, but we will be continuing this project at The Hidden Gardens – growing produce and exploring wildlife with nurture classes from local schools. The Hidden Gardens will also continue to offer wildlife activities for all at public events such as Bioblitz on Doors Open Day 16th September 2017 and our volunteers will still continue to maintain The Hidden Gardens and the planters at Pollokshields East station.

Many thanks to all who have supported us over the years and I am sure will continue to do so when the plot is handed over to another local community group.

Andrea Gillespie, Volunteer Manager


The Buzz on Bees

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The Hidden Gardens commissioned artist Lucy Payne to design some new interpretation panels all about bees. The panels are located in some of the most bee-centric areas of the Gardens: the White Wall Border, the Mint Border, the Herb Border and the Floral Meadow. Have a look for them next time you are in the Gardens!
You can also find pictures of the panels in our flickr album.


Our Hidden Gardens

In Summer 2016 The Hidden Gardens embarked on a pilot project that brought together participants from all of our programme strands with some others who had never visited the Gardens before. They embarked on a 12 week programme  of activity that centred on arts and creativity, horticulture and the environment and health and wellbeing.

Allotmenting, Ceramics, Foraging, Cooking, Walking Mindfulness and spoon carving were some of the activities tried, and Artist Ewan Sinclair worked with the group, producing a series of beautiful digital drawings which were collated into a keepsake publication for participants.

Ewan’s images can be viewed on the project blog:

Our Hidden Gardens
‘Potting On’