Stonewalled by shipment delay

The arrival of a shipment of stone and paving from China is delaying work at the revamped Walled Garden, part of the Wilton Lodge Park regeneration, writes Jake Coltman.

After a meeting with project manager Scott Castle, landscape architect Mark Elliott told the Hawick News this was the reason for the lack of progress at the site.

This revelation is not so bizarre as at first appears as there is a lower carbon footprint when buying from the Far East.

Explaining the several weeks’ delay, Mr Elliott, who had travelled from Edinburgh, told the Hawick News: “It has been common practice for years now for certain types of stone to be sourced from China and India for British projects, and because of the amount to be delivered to the site, all work had to cease.

“Once the shipment does arrive on site a suitable and safe access has to be there, rather than vehicles running on previous groundwork,” added the landscape architect who has designed 500 projects and eight parks.

“This is a great development – very few other public parks will have such a resource to enjoy.”

Many locals have expressed concern because they have seen little change for several weeks, given that an official opening date of June 28 has been publicised, including an admission-by-ticket concert in the evening.

The plan now is to have an open day that Sunday so that the public can see the work so far and given an explanation of how the completed new garden will look. The concert will still go ahead on the evening of the 28th, but at the recently-completed new bandstand and it will be a free event.

It is now envisaged that the official opening will be in late July.

Mr Elliott explained further: “On order is the right type of stone, a buff sandstone, and in the sizes required for the hard landscaping and retaining walls to be built.

“It is being shipped halfway round the world, then has to go through customs. But once it arrives, multiple gangs will be on-site and then progress will be seen.”

Some planting of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants has been done and this week parks department staff have been planting 2,000 summer bedding plans, but little else can be done until the stonework is in place.

Turning to the community garden at the site, which is worked by a group of volunteers under the direction of co-ordinator Lisa Brydon, Mr Elliott said that because the raised beds are of sleeper construction, they can be changed and altered easily in the future if required.

There are two options for the large square which has been turfed. Should the need arise in the future, the area could be used for more raised beds.

Alternatively, and a strong possibility next year, is that part of the garden will be transformed into a wild flower meadow, with a mown grass path for visitors to view nature at its finest.