Back when we lived in a flat on the first floor of an iconic tenement building in Glasgow’s West End, the Botanic Gardens were our outside space. At the first hint of sunshine, we would haul a picnic, a blanket and a selection of books, papers and magazines to the Botanics and spend a few hours lolling about in the fresh air.
The weather here in Glasgow has been surprisingly warm and sunny over the past few days. In fact, it hasn’t rained for so long (relatively speaking) that my umbrella has started to panic, getting itself all in a tizzy that it may soon be joining the ranks of the unemployed. So, given the prevailing weather conditions and having some free time on my hands, I decided that a trip to the Botanic Gardens was long overdue.
The main gate to the park is located on Great Western Road, at the junction with Byres Road, just a short stroll from Kelvinbridge or Hillhead subway stations. The Botanic Gardens are also easily accessible by bus.
The path from the gatehouse leads to what is arguably the jewel in the Botanic’s crown: the Kibble Palace. Originally a private conservatory, this Victorian wrought-iron glasshouse was literally hauled by barge down the river Clyde from Coulport on Loch Long before being erected in the Botanics in 1873. Recently renovated, the Kibble Palace houses a range of tropical plants, a fish pond and a number of marble statues.
Further collections of exotic plants, such as orchids and cacti, are housed in the teak-framed glasshouse of the Main Range.
The Botanics also include a number of themed areas—the World Rose Garden, the Herb Garden, the Chronological Garden—as well as a tranquil walk along the banks of the river Kelvin. Plenty of benches are scattered a regular intervals throughout the grounds, although no one minds if you decide to sit on the grass instead. Watch out for the naughty squirrels who scamper around the arboretum…
A number of special events are held throughout the year. Each summer, once dusk descends and the picnicking couples and families have gone home for their tea, the Botanic Gardens transform into a magical outdoor theatre. Bard in the Botanics showcases the work of Mr William Shakespeare; the 2011 season featured performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Pericles and Hamlet.
The Botanic Gardens offer many things to many people. For some, it is a chance to see the collection of orchids or admire the architecture of the Kibble Palace; for others, it is a place to escape from the stresses of the office during the lunchtime hour. But for me, the Botanic Gardens is the place where, on a balmy August evening, my future husband got down on one knee and presented me with a beautiful diamond engagement ring.