Less than ten minutes from the centre of Glasgow (in the West End area) lies an oasis of tranquility and beautiful scenery, the Botanical gardens. At any time of the year there are pleasant riverside walks, peaceful woodland copses and exotic tropical places to explore.
Thomas Hopkirk, a distinguished Glasgow botanist, was the founder of the Botanic Gardens and with the support of a number of local dignitaries and the University of Glasgow the Gardens were set up in 1817. The Garden was originally laid out on an 8 acre site at Sandyford at the western end of Sauchiehall Street (at that time, on the edge of the city). Laying out the grounds was the work of Stewart Murray, the first curator.
Three thousand plants were donated by Hopkirk as the nucleus of the collection. The Garden flourished to such an extent that in 1839 a new site, to the west of the city on the banks of the River Kelvin, was purchased to house the rapidly expanding collections. In 1842 the new Gardens – on their present site – were opened to members of the Royal Botanic Institution of Glasgow who owned and managed the Botanic Garden. The public were admitted at weekends for a small charge.
Today, at the merest hint of sunshine (which it has to be admitted is a rare commodity in Glasgow) the gardens will be flooded with people including locals, many students from the university and tourists visiting the gardens (during my various walks around the gardens I heard German, Dutch, Spanish, French and Glaswegian spoken!)
There were families with young children, retired people, tourists and students who appeared to be studying hard as “finals” approach. But then studying in such wonderful surroundings is infinitely more preferable than being stuck inside some “fusty” library in the grounds of the university. There are also the inevitable “mobile phoners” who dont seem able to do anything or go anywhere without this addictive piece of technology.
As you walk around you will see a great deal of wildlife and in particular birds and squirrels who seem oblivious to the “humans” in the park but understand that “where there are humans there is likely to be food.”