Glasgow Tree Lovers' Society

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Tree Cuttings

Jottings from Glasgow Tree Lovers’ Society

Spring 2006.

Education Pack Sponsorship

The Society, in pursuit of one of its aims – the encouragement of environmental awareness through education – has in recent years supported the development and production of education packs, through a multi-agency partnership led by Glasgow City Council Land Services department. These packs include two Woodland/Environmental Education Packs, one centred on Cathkin Braes, and the other developed specifically for use by children with special educational needs.

The packs have been developed for the use of schools throughout Glasgow and fit into the 5-14 education curriculum. They provide a list of topics, notes for the guidance of teachers and a wide variety of interesting and fun activities for children that are devised to stimulate and develop their knowledge and appreciation of the natural environment.

The Society will be sponsoring the launch of the latest in this series of education packs, the Glasgow Parks Environmental Education Pack. Like its predecessors, this will include tree-focused activities, such as a field-based tree quiz to assist with and encourage tree species recognition, measuring the height of trees and calculating the age of trees. Also included are things like mini-beast hunts (looking at insects), pond dipping and learning about the growing processes of plants.

The formal launch of the pack will take place on 7th June, 2006 at Queen’s Park Glasshouses but unfortunately, owing to accommodation restrictions, entry will be by invitation only. The Society will be strongly represented and our very own Walter Gilmour will be among the speakers at the launch.

This event will provide the Society with the opportunity of encouraging environmental awareness and improvement and will also raise the profile of the Society. Since the packs will be distributed to every primary school in the city, staff and children will hopefully become more aware of the Society, remember our endeavours and, in return, support us in years to come.

Gerry Gillespie.

GTLS works its magic at Kittoch

Thanks to Glasgow Tree Lovers the donation and planting of a specimen rowan tree (Sorbus aucuparia) took place on Wednesday, 3rd May, 2006 at Kittoch Farmhouse Garden, once owned by the Reid family for many years and now the responsibility of The Scottish Museum of Country Life. Six special needs children completed the planting with great enthusiasm and Mr Jim Macpherson, the part time gardener at Kittoch, was delighted with the result. He had to remove the previous old tree, the only rowan in the garden, which had been blown down in a storm.

The children were told the story of the rowan in “garden lore”. In Scotland over a century ago farmers would drive their cattle through a large hoop of rowan and then step through it themselves in order to guard themselves and their flock against evil. The rowan tree has long been associated with magical powers. Country folk identified with this tree because of its hardiness and tenacity in cruel conditions. They hung branches of it on their houses and sheds and carried small pieces of stem in their pockets for good luck. In times past every Scottish croft would have its own rowan tree and considered it a magical tree. Many years ago country folk would tie a red ribbon or thread on the branches when the berries were at their best so that it kept witches from their home and farmland.

Having been reminded of the old stories in lore Jim Macpherson feels much more comforted that Good Luck will once more prosper as a result of the childrens’ tree planting at Kittoch.


Past Times

For many years I’ve loved to file away past facts and figures, stories – just anything connected to Glasgow Parks and I’m sure I’m not alone in this particular pastime.

Just recently I visited Elder Park over in Govan (incidentally the location for a tree planting in 1973 funded by our Glasgow Tree Lovers’ Society). It is amazing to think that by the end of Queen Victoria’s reign there were only 18 public parks laid out in Glasgow and surrounding burghs. Elder Park was one of them, gifted to the burgh of Govan by Mrs John Elder.

In common with other parks a set of basic regulations for keeping the park in order were drawn up and a review of these reveals a way of life we can hardly think of today. Oh! If only trees could speak what a story they would tell. Many people in those days were fairly obedient to the strict regulations laid down in park bye-laws and these were fairly straightforward, such as not damaging flower beds, trees or shrubs and keeping off certain sections of grass. One or two however never appeared to fit in with any reasonable need such as a regulation about not taking any parcel or basket through a park!

In the 1890’s an irate shopkeeper took the Parks’ Department to court because a park keeper turned his “message girl” back at the gate (Queen’s Park) preventing her from delivering an order. Incidentally he won his case when an official from the department said they didn’t intend the bye-law to be so strictly enforced……so that one went by the board.

However thoughtless sections of the public had to be restrained in other matters as illustrated by other bye-laws from the past. I was delighted to learn from an article forwarded to me by Mr. Sidney Smith, a Govanite historian, quoting again some of these strange bye-laws as then written:-

no person shall exercise or break in a horse, ass or mule.”

no cattle, sheep, pigs or goats are allowed to pass through the Park.”

no person shall wash any clothes in the lake in the Park, nor dry clothes in the Park or on the railings …. beat, shake, clean carpets, mats or rugs in the Park ...”

no person shall wade, bathe, or fish in the lake…”

no person shall …discharge any firearm, or set off any balloon, or fire balloon.” (whatever that was.)

no person shall … sing, read or recite any profane or obscene ballad …” (would be interesting to know the difference between ‘profane’ and ‘obscene’.)

This one has a biblical touch:

no person … shall expose wounds or deformities inducing the giving of alms.”

Those bye-laws, if infringed, would not simply imply a gentle warning from the “parkie” but could lead to a fine not exceeding 40 shillings, which would equal about two weeks wages in those days.

Walter Gilmour

Litigation in the Past

The father of a boy, aged seven, who died from eating the berries of deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna) growing in the Glasgow Botanic Gardens in 1919 sued the Corporation as the proprietors and custodians of the gardens for damages for the death of his son. It was held that as the defenders knew that these berries were a deadly poison, but took no precautions to warn children of the danger of picking the berries of this shrub or to prevent them from doing so and as there was no adequate notice in the gardens warning the public of the dangerous character of the specimen shrubs growing therein, the Glasgow City Corporation were held liable.

(Footnote: Although they look as succulent as cherries the berries – and other parts of the plant – contain not atropine but much hyoscyamine, a toxic alkaloid. Children have been killed by eating as few as three berries. The plant belongs to the Solanaceae family, that to which the potato belongs. Extracts can be used to dilate the pupils of the eyes, hence the specific name ‘belladonna’, meaning ‘beautiful lady’.)

Stephanie Gray

From the Honorary Treasurer

The Society extends a particular welcome to the members of Kensington Gate Gardens, based in the West End of Glasgow, who have joined us as corporate members. Their support is greatly appreciated and perhaps some collaboration may be possible.

For those of you who are not recently joined members a request for membership for the current session is enclosed. We look forward to your continued support. If you are a UK taxpayer and have not already completed a gift aid form on behalf of the Society I’d like to encourage you to contact me for the appropriate form. This will enable the Society to claim tax relief on your subscription.

Bob Gray

Lime (Tilia spp.) Regeneration

Yet once more lime seedlings have appeared this spring in the West End of Glasgow, as has been reported to you on previous occasions. The writer, along with one or two acquaintances, has observed this phenomenon each year since 1996. The distinctive seedlings, whose cotyledons look like a pair of supplicating hands, are generally spotted first coming through the grass of the lawn. Further investigation finds them germinating in the garden borders and then walks around the West End find more of them growing below lime trees of which many are to be found lining the streets. (According to the Society’s records GTLS was responsible for planting many of these trees some decades ago).

The phenomenon is especially interesting because lime regeneration occurs here near the northern limit of its range in Britain. Of the three lime trees most commonly found growing here (none is definitely native to Scotland) the small leaved lime (Tilia cordata) is most sensitive to low temperature at the time of fertilisation of the seeds in summer. Consequently the appearance of its seedlings is extremely rare in Glasgow, although they have been observed. The parent limes in the author’s garden are common limes (T. x europaea). Many of the other parents in the West End are large leaved limes (T. platyphyllos) as well as common limes. Survivors may occasionally be found growing in hedges where they are often cut with a hedge trimmer.

Seedlings are also found in Knightswood and reports have been received of seedlings in Milngavie but not so far this year. Only very rarely have they been spotted in the south and east of the city, despite some sharp eyed naturalists being on the lookout. If you do come across any lime seedlings the honorary treasurer would be glad to hear from you.


An Evening Outing

Stimulated by the publication of John Miller’s booklet, ‘Trees of Glasgow’, an outing has been arranged in conjunction with the Glasgow Natural History Society to view the trees in Kelvingrove Park. Meeting will be at the park entrance in Kelvin Way at 7.00pm on Thursday, 29th June. All are welcome. Bob Gray – 0141 339 9802

Glasgow Tree Lovers Society. Rev. 2 : September 2008. The design and content of this web site, are the Copyright © 2008 of A.J. Bacsich & R.Gray, unless Copyright is otherwise held. All attributed quotes, graphics, and other Copyrighted material is Copyright © of their originators. Fubar by I M Forsyth