GORBALS & GOVANHILL

Thursday April 21st // Reflections by John Hutchinson // Photos by Clem Sandison

The weather gods were certainly smiling on us as Glasgow basked in glorious sunshine, and what better way to spend a day in the sun than rooting around in the soil and worm hunting? First port of call for the Soil City roving research team was the Gorbals Rose Garden, a former burial ground established in 1715, which now provides a quiet greenspace for the local community. During redevelopment in 2005, some of the original headstones from its former days as a cemetery were installed into the park walls. This provided us with an interesting nod to its past usage and also spurred some thinking on what lay in the soil beneath our feet. Aside from some local workers sunning themselves in the park at lunchtime, there weren’t a whole lot of people around. Help was on hand however, as two kids in the park with their parents got involved with testing the ph of the soil and worm hunting. Spraying the worms with water to stop them from drying out seemed to be the favourite task!

After finishing up in the Gorbals it was onwards to Govanhill Baths, where a small but pleasant garden sits serenely next to the hustle and bustle of Calder Street. Here we were met with a enthusiastic group who were only too happy to sit in the sun and get their hands dirty. It was a nice ambience sitting in the calm of the park, directly adjacent to the busy street and the curious looks of passers-by. It seems that communal handling of soil is a great way to generate conversation – perhaps there is something in its tactile nature and shared childhood experiences of playing and rooting around in it that facilitate this? When discussing what the soil smelt like, one response was “like freshly cut grass when I was a kid”. After wetting the soil to test its consistency and texture (which turned out to be indicative of a sandy clay loam soil type) more fun was had by making some ‘seedbombs’ – sort of like a bath bomb but made of soil and packed with wild flower seeds! This resulted in some impressively spherical balls of Govanhill soil loaded with wild flower seeds to be dropped elsewhere. On my walk home back to the city centre I duly lobbed mine into the large Brownfield site next to the M74. Perhaps there will be a small patch of wildflowers growing there the next time I walk past…

 

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