WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE
Dundee City hopes to become a great holiday destination for visitors and tourists. The waterfront development with the new V&A, new train station and hotels will boost visitor numbers together with existing visitor attractions including Discovery Quay, Camperdown Park,
beach, swimming pool, skating rink, golf courses, vibrant night life
with music in pubs and clubs and numerous other interesting tourist attractions.
My problem as an older Dundee citizen is that I remember the days when we were
also a very colourful city with flowers everywhere in Parks, open spaces and
people’s gardens. We were very proud
of our ability to create great flower
displays. I had the benefit of a five year gardening apprenticeship as the
Dundee parks took on about fifteen new apprentices every year. They were needed
to grow and propagate all those flowers, trees, shrubs and roses which
brightened up the town. The Parks Manager Sandy Dow was a trained
horticulturalist who just loved flowers, so we grew bedding plants at
Camperdown glasshouses by the thousand, and also roses by the thousand at the
nursery. We were taught great gardening skills and took pride in creating our
colourful city. All parks had great displays of summer and spring bedding with
wallflowers and tulips and even all the housing estates had rose beds in
verges, and the town centre had vibrant flower beds everywhere.
|Dundee in Bloom 1990 oil painting|
|Geraniums with a date palm|
|Impatiens hanging basket|
Down at council house level, the new tenants, many from the demolished Overgate found themselves with a garden where they could grow free food. Then a competitive spirit emerged as front gardens got a flower border and the competition for the most colourful impact of flowers resulted in a profusion of geraniums, begonias, salvias, antirrhinums and other bedding and always edged with alyssum and lobelia. These were great times for Dundee. No decent garden would be
without the red Paul Crampel geranium, as well as the pink Christine and white Hermione, and we extended our planting schemes from flower beds to tubs, window boxes and hanging baskets.
Bloom competition for the whole of UK reared its head and flower power was
everything. New flower beds were created in the town centre (now a taxi rank)
and grass verges got planted with drifts of daffodils and crocus by the
thousand to brighten up the roads into the town.
Time moves on and fashion changes and our Parks manager retired. Competition in the Britain in Bloom was fierce with Aberdeen way ahead with more roses and masses of daffodils. Slowly flower beds in Dundee disappeared. Interest in gardening waned as other social activities took prominence, then as the townsfolk got wealthier and car ownership exploded and people needed somewhere to park. Gardens were then changed into hard standing for the cars. Lawns, roses and flowers are slowly disappearing from the private gardens as slabs, sets and gravel take over.
Flower power in Dundee centre is now hard to
find, but as we all look to ways to improve the
appearance for our perceived increase in visitor numbers the use of flowering
plants should not be underestimated. Spring and summer bedding plants will
always give impact but need trained gardeners to grow and look after them so
there is an added cost.
However the benefits of creating a town with an
impressive show of flowers, is well worth the cost. Flowering shrubs like
forsythia, philadelphus, rhododendrons, camellias, azaleas and many more, and
numerous large shrub roses are all easy to grow and fairly vandal proof and
labour free. Other plants for impact such as dahlias and oriental lilies could
be found a space in parks borders where vandalism is less prone. The impact of
flowers will always enhance the visitors experience and give them more reason
to return with friends for another visit.
|Wendy enjoys the Oriental poppies|
Wee jobs to do this week
tunnels over a row of established strawberries of an early variety like Honeoye,
Mae or Christine. Make sure the ends are secure so they will withstand strong
winds. The row will need extra watering during sunny spells as the polythene
will prevent rain keeping the plants moist. The first fruits should be ready
for picking at the end of May.
|Tunnels over early strawberries|