Gardening in Shetland: The Jubilee Flower Park in Lerwick
Gardening in Shetland takes skill and perseverance, but there are many beautiful gardens around the isles. Some gardens in Shetland even welcome visitors! One such garden is the Jubilee Flower Park in Lerwick which is a peaceful town centre sanctuary. Here, people can relax and enjoy the stunning array of colours when the flowers are in bloom. It is located between King Harald Street and St. Olaf Street, close to where the Viking galley burning site during Up Helly Aa.
The wind in Shetland can be very severe, sometimes for days on end, so shelter is essential for growing anything in Shetland. Shelter can be provided by using fencing, walls, and hedging. I also recommend planting trees and shrubs to act as wind breaks.
We spoke to Diane Inkster, who has tended the garden for many years. Diane offered us some superb tips about gardening in Shetland.
Q. What is it about gardening you love so much?
A. From an early age I always loved looking at flowers and gradually started working with plants and seeds in our garden at home. My favourite part of gardening is just being outside in the fresh air, and I think you appreciate the seasons, and how they change, more when you do gardening. We have greenhouses near to the Flower Park and we grow a lot of plants from seed, and I really enjoy watching them all flourish.
Q. Can you tell us a little about the Jubilee Flower Park in Lerwick that you maintain?
A. The Jubilee Flower Park is a Council owned public park in the centre of Lerwick, which has various planted areas and also a bowling green, a putting green and a tennis court and is a lovely place to walk around or sit in a sunny spot. The park started off as a piece of waste ground which was to be used for housing. However the Council bought it for recreational purposes, and it was named the King George V Park after his silver jubilee. It was opened in 1953 by the Duke of Edinburgh.
Q. What is your favourite gardening memory or piece of gardening you are most proud of?
A. I don’t have one particular gardening memory, but the park is always a nicer place to work when the summers are good. With nice weather, everything grows well and lots of visitors use the park. I’ve worked in the flower park for many years, and I also have some wonderful memories of times spent with various work colleagues.
Q. What are plants best suited to the Shetland climate?
A. Shrubs such as Flowering Currant, Fuchsia, Hebe, Elder, Cotoneaster and Escallonia are best suited to the harsh Shetland climate. Plants including Lupin, Crocosmia, Shasta Daisy, Columbine, New Zealand Flax, Geranium, and various ornamental grasses also all grow well in Shetland.
Q. How do you deal with the wind in Shetland?
A. The wind in Shetland can be very severe, sometimes for days on end, so shelter is essential for growing anything in Shetland. Shelter can be provided by using fencing, walls, and hedging. I also recommend planting trees and shrubs to act as wind breaks.
Q. How do you decide which bits of your garden to leave wild?
A. The flower park is a more formal type of garden and traditionally tends to be neat and tidy, so we don’t really have any wild areas within the park. However we do grow various bee and butterfly friendly plants and also plants that would be classed as wildflowers. Plants such as Ragged Robin, Campion, Self-Heal, Oxeye Daisy and Field Poppies are found throughout the garden.
Q. What equipment do you think everyone should have?
A. Basic equipment that every gardener should have are secateurs, spade, fork, hand trowel, hand fork, long handled pruners, shears, rake, hoe and a sturdy wheelbarrow!
Q. Is there one thing you wish everyone knew about gardening?
A. Some people assume that there is nothing to do in a garden between November and April. However there are still plenty of jobs that can be done during this period. Certain pruning work is done in the winter when trees and shrubs are dormant and there is always tidying up around flowerbeds and paths. Not everyone has a greenhouse, but these months are when we clean and prepare our greenhouses in the run up to bringing on our bedding plants.
Q. If you could give one piece of advice about gardening in the Shetland islands, what would it be?
A. One piece of advice I would give is that everyone can grow something. It’s possible whether you have a large or small garden, or no garden at all or just a few pots. You can just begin with something simple and go on from there.
Orkney and Shetland fanatic, likes to capture life through a lens, loves creating, eclectic taste in music, enjoys being a Mum; would secretly love to be a star of the West End!