Glasgow Garden Festival lives on at Gourock garden centre

Picture: Macdonald Media
Picture: Macdonald Media
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The Glasgow Garden Festival might have ended 30 years ago, but it lives on in a Scots garden centre.

After the festival closed in September 1988, the owner of Cardwell Garden Centre, near Gourock, the late Eric Gallagher spent a six-figure sum buying up buildings, ornate shelters, plants and mature trees from the organisers.

Glasgow Garden Festival still flourishes 30 years. Picture: Macdonald media

Glasgow Garden Festival still flourishes 30 years. Picture: Macdonald media

The wooden structures Eric bought were dismantled and then re-assembled at an expanded Cardwell and to this day are a major part of the centre spread over 28 acres of land.

Mature trees and some of the more unusual plants Eric bought were carefully dug up, sold on and transported to gardens and country estates all over the UK.

The only obvious trace of the Glasgow Garden Festival at Cardwell is one of its multi-coloured signs attached to the wall above the exit.

But visitors won’t realise that both the entrance and exit frontages to Cardwell came from the Garden Festival’s entrance hall used by people coming across the Bell’s Bridge, over the River Clyde.

Glasgow Garden Festival still flourishes 30 years. Picture: Macdonald media

Glasgow Garden Festival still flourishes 30 years. Picture: Macdonald media

And many won’t know that the quaint little red-painted bridge with a pagoda-style shelter they use to walk across the stream that runs through the garden centre came from the Festival. As did the roof over the lengthy veranda that runs past shops and the centre’s Pet’s Corner along with paving stones for pathways.

Other pagoda shelters from the Festival are dotted around Cardwell along with the roof on a sheltered walkway.

Eric first started a nursery in Cardwell Bay, in Gourock more than 50 years ago before expanding and moving to the present site at Lunderston Bay, just outside Gourock. He became a major figure in the UK garden centre sector.

Eric’s two sons, Drew and Kieran along with his daughter, Stefanie now run the popular garden centre.

As a teenager, Drew was one of a small army of workers from Cardwell who spent months on the festival site dismantling buildings and digging up trees and plants.

On the 30th anniversary of the Glasgow Garden Festival, Drew recalls: “My dad made sealed bids for almost anything and everything he thought he could use. He hated waste and always wanted to recycle things and make use of them.

“He also liked a bargain and I suspect that’s what attracted him to the Garden Festival after it had closed!”

Cardwell’s retail general manager, Paul Carmichael said: “I remember the Glasgow Garden Festival very well and when I started working at Cardwell I was amazed to find out that about 20 per cent of the structures here came from the Festival site.

“What was brought in from the Festival has certainly given Cardwell real character and has made us far more than just a big shed selling gardening products.

“There can’t be many people who come to Cardwell realise they are walking in the footsteps of the famous Glasgow Garden Festival after all those years.”