A unique Floating Garden has started its tour of the Scottish canal network, travelling from Glasgow to Edinburgh before resting in residence at The Kelpies from July to September.
The Floating Garden is part of Dandelion, a major creative programme demonstrating the power of collective action through an ambitious ‘grow your own’ initiative that aims to reach hundreds of thousands of people throughout Scotland and further afield this summer.
The Floating Garden is one of 13 ‘Unexpected Gardens’ created by Dandelion across the country in unusual spaces, and is delivered in partnership with Scottish Canals. Commissioned by EventScotland and funded by The Scottish Government, Dandelion is Scotland’s contribution to UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK.
- The Floating Garden has three elements. One is a barge from Scottish Canals converted into a floating allotment, complete with a polytunnel, shed raised beds and three of Dandelion’s unique ‘Cubes of Perpetual Light’, a 1x1m accelerated growing cube.
- The second is a performance stage home to a huge flower puppet, the Flower Singer.
- The third is a floating ecosystem drawing sustenance from the canal and in the process cleaning the water and feeding the plants.
The performance stage, the ‘Lochrin’ workboat, is usually operated by the Lowland Canals Volunteer Group to maintain the canals. Dandelion have temporarily borrowed their craft, which towers more than four metres above the canal, and repurposed it as a home for the incredible Dandelion Singers: Iona Fyfe and Evie Waddell. They will both perform harvest songs from different cultures in a variety of languages.
During the tour the Floating Garden will be joined by other vessels from the boating community decorated to create a flotilla of floating gardens that will stop at ten communities. At each, the Flower Singer will come alive, holding a performance of harvest songs from Iona and Evie, with local audiences receiving hundreds of free grow-your-own starter kits for windowsill herbs.
The Floating Garden will pass through the below locations, stopping at 5-7pm each evening, before docking at the Helix, Falkirk. Once at The Kelpies, there will be a series of events through the summer culminating in a joyful Harvest in early September:
- 20 June: Hamiltonhill Claypits (Glasgow)
- 21 June: Lambhill Stables (1pm)
- 21 June: Cadder Bridge, Bishopbriggs
- 22 June: Southbank Marina, Kirkintilloch
- 23 June: Auchinstarry Marina, Kilsyth
- 24 June: Bonnybridge Lift Bridge
- 28 June: Manse Road Basin, Linlithgow
- 29 June: Port Buchan, Broxburn
- 30 June: Ronny Rusack Bridge, Ratho
- 1 July: Leamington Lift Bridge, Edinburgh Central
- 9 July – 11 September: The Floating Garden: The Kelpies
The Floating Garden will not only include a shed to keep important gardening supplies in, there are six raised beds made from re-usable ‘pallet collars’ which are a quick and easy way to make a raised bed in any garden. In these, a variety of seasonal vegetables will be growing alongside pollinator-friendly flowers to attract insects to do their important work. The most futuristic growing on the barge is in the form of the Dandelion ‘Grow Cubes’ which are a form of vertical farming whereby LED grow lights are used to boost growth in the plants.
This Biomatrix Floating Ecosystem will also bring the canals and growing together as one. The aquatic plants growing on the raft reach down into the canal with their roots and draw up the water and nutrients they need to survive. Not only that, but they also help to clean the canal at the same time.
Dandelion Festivals Director, Neil Butler, said: “We’re so excited to launch our Floating Garden as it sets off from Glasgow and embarks on its journey to Edinburgh. With a number of stops along the way, we hope as many people as possible get the chance to enjoy it, picking up free plants to join us in a summer of growing, ahead of the Harvest celebration in September.”
Catherine Topley, CEO of Scottish Canals, said: “We are delighted to help bring the floating garden to canal side communities across the Lowland Canals in a year when we are celebrating the bicentenary of The Union and Caledonian Canals. Our canal network is rich in fauna and flora and with over 1.5m people living within 3km of a canal across the country and the floating garden is the perfect opportunity to take to the towpath and see this moving display of greenery in action.
“This event celebrates the vibrancy of our waterways, which are as important to Scotland today as they were when they were built 200 years ago, and Dandelion continues our tradition of welcoming fantastic events both to and next to the water.”