Gardening Scotland to feature Glenochil Prison display

Cornton Vale inmate Dawn Gilchrist with Wattie Reekie, prison activities manager at Glenochil. Picture: Jon Savage
Cornton Vale inmate Dawn Gilchrist with Wattie Reekie, prison activities manager at Glenochil. Picture: Jon Savage
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A DISPLAY created by prisoners will be amongst the highlights as 35,000 green-fingered types flock to the country’s biggest gardening event.

Gardening Scotland opens at Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston, tomorrow – boasting thousands of plants, flowers, shrubs, artwork and workshops.

After I saw their work in the prison, it just felt right to give them a chance.

Jim Jermyn

For three days, landscape lovers can shop for tools, equipment, garden furniture and plants, and seek inspiration on how to decorate their own outdoor spaces at home.

The highlights of the year’s show include a live Gardeners’ Question Time session, with the Beechgrove team, where visitors can seek advice on their plants.

For the first time, a display created by the inmates at Glenochil Prison in Alloa and Cornton Vale Prison in Stirling will be on display.

The manager of the show, Jim Jermyn, said that after visiting both prisons he was touched by the inmates’ love for gardening and decided to give them a chance to show off their hard work.

He said: “The display named ‘Within these walls – a journey inside’ is something a bit different we’ve brought to the show this year – it has a marvellous story behind it.

“Gardening helps give inmates something to focus on and sometimes it encourages them not to reoffend again.

“We will have previous inmates at the show and a few current ones who have helped with the display.

“After I saw their work in the prison, it just felt right to give them a chance.”

To keep the kids occupied, the author of the classic Katie Morag books, Mairi Hedderwick, will be at the event on Saturday and a fashion show inspired by themes such as “the trendy gardener”, “summer afternoon” and “garden party” will also get under way.

Mr Jermyn, who is hoping forecasts of good weather over the weekend are accurate, said: “We are expecting about 35,000 people and we are hoping for good weather because that makes a difference.

“We are looking forward to welcoming all of our visitors this year following a particularly challenging season.

“In the matter of just a week it’s gone from extremely cold to warm, but now is the time when most people are looking to buy plants. We have exhibitors travelling from various countries to be at the event so it will be a unique experience.”

Gardening Scotland is the biggest plant fair north of the Border and this year visitors can also look forward to the Hive Jive show garden, created by students at Scotland’s Rural Colleges (SRUC).

According to Mr Jermyn, the design will help to raise awareness of bees and their value in the pollination of food crops and wild cultivated flowers.

As well as highlighting some fascinating facts about the creatures and their life cycles, the garden will inform visitors about some of the serious issues surrounding the decline of bees, promoting simple steps that can be taken to help the insects thrive.

Martin Dare, Gardening Scotland’s show organiser, said: “Every year there is huge excitement and anticipation around Gardening Scotland’s show gardens.

“As well as showcasing some of the finest floral delights that Scotland has to offer, each of the gardens tell their own story and offers a creative outlet for visitors and exhibitors to cherish and enjoy.”

• More information about Gardening Scotland: http://www.gardeningscotland.com/

courtney.cameron@jpress.co.uk