I understand that the Walled Garden in Wilton Lodge Park has recently been destroyed. All the trees, shrubs and plants and all the paving and other features have been removed, leaving a quag- mire.
Apparently the greenhouse is also going to be demolished even though it was only built on an old greenhouse site in 1988. Such greenhouses can stand for well over 100 years if properly cared for.
The work is also being done by workers from Haddington. In 1988 when the greenhouse was built and the beds were restyled and laid, celebrating the many times Hawick won Britain in Bloom awards, the work was done by Hawick parks staff and the funding came from the parks budgets. No fancy and expensive architects or consultants were required or used and no workers from the Lothians were required.
The Walled Garden is the original lodge garden and was where John Forbes started his nursery work back in 1870. John Forbes (Hawick) Limited went on for a further 99 years and exported plants all over Europe, Canada, USA and New Zealand.
They brought fame and wealth to Hawick and left behind a portfolio of plants that they bred, as well as skills and heritage. The Walled Garden would have been an ideal spot to show collections of plants that Forbes grew and sold, and funding for its development and upkeep could be found among botanic gardens, the Royal Horticultural Society and other international bodies.
Such a project would have opened doors internationally again for Hawick in the world of horticulture. Similar gardens with national plant collections of specific species in England attract anything from 3,000 to 100,000-plus visitors a year and generate income from sales or licences for stock.
Wilton Lodge Park is a natural park that has considerable history and heritage. It has 107 acres of land and, in my view, a community garden could and should have been situated near the new bandstand on virgin land. The Walled Garden and areas around the museum should be preserved and properly maintained as that style of landscape reflects park originator John Anderson’s design and has historical significance.
I would be very interested to see the budget and accounts for the alterations to the park and particularly the cost of fees for architects, consultants, consultation, publicity and media management and workers’ wages brought into the town.
In my humble opinion, not enough thought, consultation and care have been given to this project and so far the end results looks tragic and disastrous to me.