It’s hard to imagine while watching the bees buzzing in the dahlias and sniffing the Braveheart roses in the William Wallace rose garden but Castlebank Park in the historic town of Lanark didn’t always look this way. It’s taken lots of drive and commitment from the Lanark Community Development Trust, Lanark in Bloom and a team of dedicated volunteers to transform the park over recent years.

Despite huge public support, the South Lanarkshire Park had been sadly neglected and steadily declining year on year. Listening to the locals Lanark Community Development Trust decided that improving the park was a priority for the town and they set to work identifying their priorities for action. Like the bees spotted in the garden they have been busy making the plan a reality over the past seven years, initially taking on a 20 year lease for the abandoned tennis courts and a dilapidated former sawmill. Vegetables and flowers now grow in abundance in raised beds and two polytunnels on the old courts, a toilet block and smart entrance area welcome you and the sawmill refurbishment creating a Horticultural Training Centre is almost complete.

Sylvia Russell, Chair of Lanark Community Development Trust, commented:

 “This productive area now provides flowers for Lanark in Bloom that brighten up our town centre and fresh food for the local food bank. The park is there for the local community to enjoy and our recent Green Flag award is a fantastic accolade that shows the commitment our volunteers have made in returning the park to its former glory.”

At present South Lanarkshire Council still own the park, they regularly mow the grass and a team of Trust volunteers manage all other aspects of growing and maintenance. The Trust alongside other projects in the Town co-ordinate the volunteers, raise funds and lead the development of the park - only recently employing one paid member of staff. The work involved can’t be underestimated, it’s a fantastic accomplishment and clearly demonstrates what can be achieved by the community working together.

With money from a wide range of funders including donations from Friends of Castlebank, Leader, the Renewable Energy Fund and Tesco Bags of Help the Trust have also created a Fairy Dell, complete with a fairy post box and magical wooden sculptures to sit, climb and play on; a beautiful bog garden on the site of the previously filled in curling pond and the Wallace Rose Garden, a lovely spot to take in the views over the Clyde Valley. Memories people had of the stunning terraced gardens are also coming back to life as the top terrace has been tamed, made more accessible and is home to many flowers, plants and those busy, buzzing bees.