Rouken Glen - pull back web


CLIENT: East Renfrewshire Council
ARCHITECT: Ironside Farrar
VALUE: £323,876
CONTRACT PERIOD: May 2015 – November 2015


The Walled Garden originates from around 1886 as part of the Thornliebank House estate and was originally the vegetable garden.  The house has been demolished and the estate is now within Rouken Glen Park.

Over recent years, the Garden had fallen into disrepair. The objective of the landscaping project was to regenerate the Garden, conserving where practicable the historic built fabric.  The design sought to reintroduce the historic framework and period style whilst improving public access.  Retention of the existing heritage climbing plants growing on the enclosing walls was a prime objective as these are rare mature specimen plants.

The garden is walled on three sides, the wall ranging in height from 3.5 m to 5m on the back wall.  On the fourth side, there is a low level wall with railings and a formal stone arched entrance.

The beds have been rebuilt, new accessible paths laid, the walls restored, interpretation areas created and thousands of new plants and trees planted.  The planting style and layout of soft landscaping elements includes demonstration beds, fruit trees and colour themed planting into formal parterres.

The Walled Garden has been transformed and reopened to the public.  It provides a haven for plant lovers and a peaceful and colourful oasis within Rouken Glen Park.


To restore the garden, the following works were required:

  • Site clearance of vegetation and structures, retaining the existing topsoil for re-use
  • Excavation to formation level and placing of a geotextile membrane and gravel layer
  • Installation of timber edging structure thereby establishing the geometry of the garden, delineating footpaths and planting beds
  • Introduction of type 1, pockets of type 3 clean stone for enhanced drainage and filling of planting beds with the original topsoil augmented with PAS 100 compost and bark
  • A traditional trellis structure has been constructed and a selection of climbing roses, honeysuckle and jasmine planted. This will form an informal hedge in the years to come as the garden matures with a pleasing display of colour and scent.
  • A stilted Hornbeam hedge has been planted to create segregation whilst creating hidden views.
  • Planting is primarily herbaceous plants, ferns and specimen shrubs and follows a colour theme.
  • Existing heritage climbers, including Hydrangea petiolaris and Actimidia kolomikta, were pruned back to expose the wall and the roots and base protected during our works, successfully retaining them for incorporation into the newly developed garden.
  • Avenues of pear and apple espaliered fruit trees were planted onto wire trellises in front of the walls.
  • More than 10,000 bulbs have been planted including daffodils, snowdrops, tulips and summer snowflakes.
  • A small events area paved in precast blocks on the footprint of the original greenhouse hardstanding and edged with conservation kerb. A centrepiece granite slab is inscribed with a poem.
  • A new rock garden has been created using sandstone boulders reclaimed from the garden and planted out with rockery type plants.
  • CEDEC golden gravel to finish the footpaths, a self-binding gravel, lightly compacted.
  • Repairs and rebuilding of sections of the inner brick built wall damaged by climbers over the years. Existing bricks were cleaned off and re-used and supplemented by matching bricks sourced following a painstaking search of architectural salvage yards.
  • Restoration of the outer stone built wall involving raking out old joints and repointing using lime mortar.
  • Cast iron railings and gates were painted.
  • A reclaimed stone urn was sourced as a central feature in the garden and two new stone planters made to match existing.
  • A frontage strip outwith the walled garden was planted with rhododendrons, azaleas, ferns and bulbs

Community Tours
We held several community engagement events and welcomed members of the public to tour the site and see the works as they progressed.

Employment Training
We liaised with Young Enterprise Scotland, who support school non-attenders in pre-vocational training, and provided 4 part-time employment opportunities for local candidates.

Unusual features
There was a small section of fossilised tree within the Garden.  This was removed during construction works and has now been placed back into the garden as a feature.


Problems with access
The Walled Garden was accessed via the main access road into Rouken Glen Park.  The Park remained open to the public during our works and great care was required to ensure that site traffic could access the Garden without compromising the safety of park users.

Deliveries were scheduled to coincide with quiet periods within the park and delivery vehicles were escorted from the main gate to the walled garden site by two banksmen.

The Walled Garden itself was made accessible by taking out a section of railing and taking down the wall beneath to allow construction plant into the confines of the Garden.

Ground conditions
An area of the Garden was known to be contaminated with invasive species, Mare’s Tail.  The plant was dormant when works on site began and the area was fenced off to prevent disturbance and cross-contamination.

As the plant started to emerge in the Spring, it was treated over a three to four-month period.  Once eradicated, our teams could then go in and carry out the specified works to this area.

Unexpected problems and how they were overcome
Birds were found to be nesting in the ivy and wall climbers.  An ecologist identified the live nests and we refrained from stripping vegetation within 5 m of a nesting site.  We continued to work in other areas until the young birds had flown.


The topsoil stripped from the site was reused within planting beds.

The inside brick-built skin of the east wall was found to be permanently damaged by the roots of climbing ivy which had penetrated the cavity of the wall and blown out the brickwork.

Once the vegetation had been cleared, the extent of the damage was exposed.  It was decided that the best way forward was to take down the inner skin, treat any rootwork behind it and rebuild using existing bricks.  The bricks were cleaned off; however, there were insufficient to complete the rebuild.  Finding a good match in imperial size proved difficult but an exact match was eventually sourced from a local architectural salvage yard.

Trellis Work
The existing trellis work removed from the site went to a neighbour training provider and was used on local community projects.

Traditional wooden memorial benches which had been donated by members of the public over the years were refurbished and put back into the finished garden.

Stone Edging
Stone edging removed from the garden was re-incorporated as edging at the main entrance into the garden and in front of the new rockery.