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Maryhill Park celebrates its community garden with song, cakes and a rain dance

Official opening for Maryhill Park community garden with plans for further phases of work to follow.

A forgotten green space in Maryhill has been brought back to life in just a matter of months.

At the weekend local people celebrated the official opening of the first phase of the community garden at Maryhill Park at a summer fair.

Watch: Official opening for the first phase of Maryhill Park community garden.

Where dilapidated cabins and wasteground once was, now sit raised beds, a modern pagoda and planting gardens.

And more will follow in months and years to come with plans for a secure lock-up, additional raised beds, and even a cafe and toilets down the line.

It is a remarkable turn around for what was until recently a neglected site by the derelict bowling green within the wider park landscape.

Flowers: The raised beds cater for the different senses.

In just three months, the Friends of Maryhill Park have secured funding and transformed a derelict area into a welcoming and green outside space.

It follows several years of effort by the community to improve the wider park at Maryhill, cutting back hedges and trees, clearing back paths and reclaiming a forgotten green space.

The official opening of the garden was attended by Bob Doris, MSP for Maryhill & Springburn, and around 200 local people who braved summer showers.

Ben Cooper, a bicycle builder by trade, is one of the Friends of Maryhill Park who has been part of the team of community volunteers.

Green: A lot of work has been done in recent years to improve the park.

He said: "The bowling green at Maryhill Park has been derelict for about 20 years. This whole area was overgrown, with 30-ft high beech hedges.

"All the paths were covered. Volunteers over the last five years have been opening up the entire park. We've trimmed all these hedges to make it a lot more open and welcoming.

"It used to be a lot more enclosed, and sometimes a bit scary to come down through here because there were only two entrances. Now it's much more open, I think.

Tennis: Courts next to the garden are being brought back into use.

"And the community garden is the next stage of that. Getting more people in here again.

"The final stage is to have things like a community cafe up here, and toilet facilities, that kind of thing.

"That's a few years down the line, but hopefully we can get back to how it was."

He added: "People remember when this was a really bustling area; it had on-ste toilets, it had an on-site cabin, and there was man in a little shack who handed out tennis racquets to people.

"We'd like to get back to that, at least part time in the summer, that kind of thing."

Friends: Ben Cooper is one of the many friends of Maryhill Park.

Friends of Maryhill Park managed to get some funding from the council's Stalled Spaces project.

That money was used to create the raised beds and a rainwater collection system attached to the pagoda.

"It's been a really quickly project, just this year," said Ben.

"We only started in about March and we got the funding through in April and we finished about three weeks ago (mid May). And it's going really well.

Cover: A steel pagoda provides perfect shelter for visitors to the garden.

"We've had good involvement from local people shifting tonnes of soil, and it's worked very well.

"But this is the first stage though. We've already got funding for the second stage. We want to build another storage cabin for tools and things, more beds and expand from there."

Ribbon: Bob Doris MSP performed the official opening of the community garden.

The garden has sensory beds: plants categorised by the different senses; a touch bed, which has spiked and soft plants; and a scented bed.

Ben said: "It's an open garden. Anyone can come along and enjoy it. We are not about locking it off and keeping it away from local people.

"We want local people to get involved as much as possible.

"The other thing we built was the pagoda structure. It was originally designed for things just to climb up, but we thought it would be a good idea to have a system of rainwater collection.

Map: Maryhill Park is easy to get to by public transport. ©Google Maps

"That has an angled metal roof, collections water off that, it runs into a gutter, and it is stored i the metal drums at the back.

"So we now have on-site water for watering things when we need to. It's a good piece of recycling, we don't have to pay any water bills. We're self-sufficient that way.

He said: "We've built the park so that kids can run off and go and play in the hedgerows, and find bugs and things. We also have a focal point for them to come back to."

Play: Children enjoyed face-painting at the summer fair.

Sarah Howitt, chair of Friends of Maryhill Park, said a lot of work had been done by the community in recent years to make the park a safe and pleasant place to visit.

Sarah said: "Our green spaces are enormously important, Glasgow has got lots of them.

"But the council struggles nowadays to run them so we've stepped up to help with that.

Safe: Friends group chair Sarah Howitt says volunteers have transformed the park.

"Raising awareness today hopefully means that more people will be involved, and making the park feel like somewhere people want to be.

"When we first set up people said they were scared, people said they found the park an intimidating place.

"We've not heard that now for a very long time now, because it is better used."

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