Saturday, 22 March 2008

Latest news on Cherrybank Gardens closure

Update September 2008. Great News - the gardens have been saved!! BBC News reported on 19th September 2008 that:

"The future of Cherrybank Gardens in Perth is set to be secured, six months after they were closed down.

The gardens house what is thought to be Europe's largest heather collection but they were shut because of low visitor numbers and lack of funding.

More than 3,000 people signed a petition calling for them to be saved.

Operators Scotland's Garden Trust (SGT) plans to transfer the running of the site to Perth and Kinross Leisure who will reopen the gardens to the public.

SGT had wanted to turn the site into a £40m national garden for Scotland.

Those plans had to be shelved after the lottery rejected its application for a £25m grant.

SGT felt that Cherrybank was not viable on its own, as only about 6,000 people visited last year, and decided to close the site in March.

However, garden maintenance has been going on since then in the hope they could one day open again.

Perth and Kinross Leisure has not yet set a date for the reopening but hope it will be "as soon as possible."

However, the former visitor centre at the gardens will be sold off and there are plans to turn that into offices.

Bill Moyes from Perth and Kinross Leisure said: "Everyone is aware of the significance of the heather collections, it's a collection of national and international significance.

"So the collection in itself was important, but I think equally important is just the general environs that the gardens have, it's a very important location, it's a fantastic and beautiful site, a site that I think was enjoyed by a lot of people, not only locally at that side of Perth, but I think visitors to the town and people from across the country."
"


Original posting on this date shown below:

Public Meeting Monday 24th March, 11am.

BELL’S CHERRYBANK GARDENS
Garden Car Park


A petition with over 3000 signatures in support of the gardens not closing was handed in to the local Council (Perth & Kinross).

Understandably there has been quite a public outcry over the planned closure of Bell’s Cherrybank Gardens which holds the National Collection of Heather. There has been a fair bit of press coverage too as you would expect coming from a variety of sources.

Let’s hope the light flurries of snow we have had will stay away and the temperature is a bit warmer on Monday. It would be great to see as many people as possible being able to attend this meeting which has been arranged by councillors from Perth and Kinross Council.


Once more my thoughts are with the team of people working from here as well as the loss of this garden and green space for Perth.

12 comments:

Jane said...

Well done Shirl getting your article mentioned - you seem to have stirred up some interest! I expect you will be attending the meeting. Lets hope it gets the attention it deserves. I've got very cynical about developers buying up "everything". Lets hope this garden stays as a collection for many years to come and doesn't turn into a block of flats! Jane

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Good to hear that you are at least raising the question of should it be closed and developed. I certainly hope not. We need our green spaces.

Melanie said...

Shirl, when nature lovers come together they can form a strong front. Hopefully this is the beginning of a new life for the Cherrybank Gardens.

garden girl said...

I hope the movement that's started will be able to save the garden. What a treasure of a place. How sad it would be to lose it.

Cheryl said...

Oh I do love people power. Good luck to all those fighting this battle. We need to kepp our green spaces.

Frances, said...

That's hopeful news, Shirl. Your post did a lot to raise awareness around the world of the importance of saving the Cherrybank Gardens. Let's hope that enough awareness was raised among the powers that be to make the right decision.
Waiting to hear the results,
Frances at Faire Garden

Vanillalotus said...

I hope it stays open Shirl. I wish I lived close so I could go there and petition too. I can't imagine they would close down something that has a large unique collect of anything. Best of luck.

Robin's Nesting Place said...

I hope the petitions work, Shirl.

Border Reiver said...

Keep up the pressure. Sounds like there is at least some movement in the right direction with the public meeting.

shirl said...

Hi there Jane, Lisa, Melanie, Garden girl, Cheryl, Frances, Vanillalotus, Robin and Border :-)

Jane – Thank-you, every little bit helps! By no means have I been the one that has stirred things up – there have plenty other people doing that. As you would expect it is getting political with the trusts and council – you know how it goes I am quite sure. Yes, flats would be awful but the space is quite large and I fear that I Hotel Chain would pick up this spot :-(

Lisa – Thank-you, once again I am not the only one that has made comment on this closure. There have been letters and comments coming from all quarters. I just thought I would add to it with a tour around the garden for local people who have never thought about them – or visited them. Yes, we need to keep our green spaces they seem to go very easily!

Melanie – I hope so too, but I have my doubts. Funnily enough I do wonder if all the objections are from nature lovers :-)

Garden girl – Thank-you, I hope so too. I just wonder if perhaps it would only get a reprieve for so long. It would be a great loss to the city and Perthshire :-(

Cheryl – Yes, although I just hope the best voices are heard. My thoughts also go to the people working at the garden – there is a charity there too. We do need to keep our green spaces and there are by far enough houses in this area – the location of the garden will be a very sought after plot if the garden closes!

Frances – It seems hopeful but sadly it is likely to come down to money. Thank-you, I hoped my post would help in some small way. I am in no way a serious campaigner – there are others that have been doing that by the press coverage. The right decision for the garden and Perth may not be one and the same but I do hope something can be worked out :-)

Vanillalotus – Thank-you, so do I. Certainly a petition should tell the local groups and councils something. However if this garden is not seen as financially viable a plan would need to be set out to make this change with help from all quarters :-)

Robin – I hope so too, but I wonder do they really? It certainly cannot be ignored and this closure is getting quite heated now!

Border – Yes, the pressure is certainly on. As I said above this is now getting rather heated. The local press is reporting on it all the time and comments from councillors and trusts are in there too – as you would expect. My hope is that if the garden is saved then a plan is formed to help it survive long term :-)

Kathey said...

We visited Perth in 2006. We enjoyed the beautiful Cherrybank Gardens and were excited to hear about plans for a national garden for Scotland. Sorry to hear those plans have been canceled. We were coming back to volunteer at the garden and spend some time in Perth.

Dennis Marmion said...

I had the great pleasure of working part time at The National Heather Collection for 3 yrs. This came about after I retired and gave me many happy hours srving the visitors from near and far.
It is very sad when one looks at the garden now. It is in a sorry state and all because of the intransigence of SGT. P&K Leisure have attempted to look after the plants on a Care & Maintenance basis. However after the dreadful winter C£90,000 worth of plants were destroyed. The council cannot open the Garden as SGT maintain that they will only hand over the Visitor Centre after a payment in the region of £1m is paid. Quite disigenuous of them as they were "Gifted" the garden by Diageo on the understanding that it would become the first part of the proposed "Calyx" project which foundered for the reasons already mentioned by you. It was thought that a clause existed in the gift document that should the Calyx project not go ahead the Garden would revert to the Council who had owned it prior to "Bells Whisky" and subsequently "Diageo". However, even the FOI people could not supply me with a copy.
This is indeed a totally unique garden certainly in Europe and some horticulturalists beleive in the world. So that an important piece of Scotlands Horticultural Heritage is allowed to go to wreck and ruin. The year prior to closure was an exceptionaly bad one weather wise and it is true that only between 3-6000 people paid to enter thye garden. However C 30,000 people actualy entered the visitor centre and this fact was not mentioned by SGT when giving the reason for closure. Perhaps that is what being economical with the truth is all about Smoke & Mirrors. I for one am still hopeful that the garden may be reurected but in this economic climate, the longer it remains closed the more likely it will be gone for good
Dennis Marmion