- Everything Coming Up Roses
When you think of the East End of Glasgow, roses are not the first things that most folk think about. Instead, deprivation, unemployment and poor housing used to be a feature of the Glasgow's Dalmarnock, Parkhead and Bridgeton districts, a legacy of the city's industrial past. It was the Victorian middle classes who created the overcrowded, basic housing which became the post-war slums, but they also built many fine buildings and excelled at creating public parks which provided oases amid the squalor. These parks are now one of the redeeming features of industrial Glasgow and remain popular. Queen's Park, with it's views across the city, Victoria Park with its fossil grove, Lynn Park with its trees and riverside walks, Alexandra Park with its magnificent fountain and Glasgow Green, the oldest park in the city which is used for events such as the World Pipe Band Championship each August are all well known to residents and visitors alike.
Tollcross Park Rose Trials
But Tollcross park in the heart of Glasgow's east end and only three miles from the city centre is not so well known. And that's surprising because its rose gardens, covering about 2.5 acres on a south facing slope, have been playing host to international rose trials since 1986. There are 16 beds of roses with over 240 varieties and approximately 4,100 plants creating a mass of colour every summer. Each year, plant breeders submit their new varieties and 25-30 of these are planted each year, replacing those that have been there for a number of years. The garden thus provides an opportunity to assess new varieties growing in climatic conditions common to Glasgow and the West of Scotland. The roses are inspected by a panel of experts over two summers and assessed for their health, beauty of flower, freedom of bloom, and general effect. A "Lord Provost's Cup" is awarded annually to the rose variety receiving judged to be the best.
Roses start to flower in June and continue to produce flower until late autumn. They are at their most colourful in July and August. Each rose bed has its own layout plan detailing the rose varieties growing in the bed. So if you see a rose variety you would like to grow in your own garden it is fairly easy to identify it.
Tollcross also has a "Winter Garden" - a large glass house from the Victorian era which houses more colourful plants and a small café - see picture.
Commonwealth Games 2014
Tollcross Park is not far from where the Commonwealth Games are being held in 2014. A lot of investment has been poured into the area to regenerate it, with many of the derelict buildings being pulled down to make way for an athlete's village and sports stadia. These will remain as amenities after the games have finished. Tens of thousands of sports fans will be coming to Glasgow to attend the Commonwealth Games. Hopefully some of them will have an interest also in seeing other parts of Scotland's largest city - and will take in Tollcross Park rose trials, right on their doorstep.
This short article only has space for a few illustrations but there is a Windows Media slide show on YouTube with background music and around 45 pictures of a selection of the roses on display in 2010. See also Two Dozen Roses in large format from the roses on show in 2001. You can also see the location of Tollcross and the layout of the rose beds (in the shape of rose petals) on Google Maps.
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