Castlebank Park & Horticultural Centre

Castlebank Park was the hunting ground for Lanark Castle up until 1760 when it was developed into a residential area and formal gardens. The council obtained the land in the 1950’s but from the 1960’s onwards the park area and gardens slowly fell into disrepair. I was keen to see the changes that had occurred since I had lived in the area over 28 years ago as by then the park was unused and unsafe.

The Lanark Community Development Trust have supported an inspired and transformational change. In 2002 the community got over 2000 signatures and then the hard work began. They decided to create a Horticultural Centre within the park to become the base for volunteers to bring the gardens back to life and to also create a centre for local skills development and training.

From 2010 Lanark Community Development Trust working in partnership with Lanark in Bloom have given the park a new lease of life and created a beautiful green space for Lanark.

In the 1st phase of development which began in 2014 the only tennis court ‘dump’ was transformed into a highly productive Horticulture Centre growing area. This became a base for the volunteers to allow the transformation of their gardens to begin. Today they have different groups visiting, working and learning and can cater for upwards of 35 children at a time. The team then went on to recreate the Wallace Rose Garden and wanted to develop the old Curling Pond into a ‘Japanese Water Garden’ but they were refused permission by the Council so they have developed a ‘Bog Garden’. There were some storm felled trees in the middle of the gardens and instead of removing them they have been turned into a magical ‘Fairy Dell’ with the aid of a very talented chainsaw wood carver.

Phase 2 saw the creation of the Horticultural Centre Hub from the ruined Sawmill building. This lovely airy space is used for a wide variety of activities, meetings and workshops. This was where we all gathered for a cuppa and a chat with the Trust’s Development Manger, Melissa, the Education Manager, Stuart, and the chair of the Development Trust, Sylvia. With the energy and commitment of these 3 people the park is going from strength to strength as they offer a wide variety of workshops, talks walks amongst other things.

In June 2018 Prince Charles visited the gardens and was so impressed that he donated some money to help in the development of a Labyrinth for the sundial lawn.

Last year the park gained accreditation to run the ‘RHS level 2 Principles of Horticulture’ theory course and the course will start this September. Throughout the year they run courses for all ages and stages and abilities and are beginning to get awards including being shortlisted for the Scottish Rural Action Innovators Award.

I wish them all the very best for the future as they continue to restore and develop this wonderful asset.

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