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Bric-A-Brac Balcony Beach Garden

SRUC Horticulture student Shaun Dowse will be displaying at Gardening Scotland with his pop-up garden titled Bric-A-Brac Balcony Beach Garden. Cultivate found out more about the inspiration behind the garden and what he is looking forward to at this year’s event.

Shaun Dowse

What is the theme of your garden?
I’ve chosen a seaside beach-hut theme for my pop-up garden. Growing up in the countryside near the coastal town of Ayr, my family spent much of our childhood at the beach. It provides an open and calming environment. The beach was at its busiest during the Glasgow Fair, when city residents hopped onto the train to escape the imposing grey concrete of the high-rise flats and density of buildings. The idea is that the stark contrast of ‘sense of place’ should raise a smile when situated on the balcony of a tower block in the city, and the bric-a-brac nature of the material and prop sourcing lends an eccentric feel to the space. Humour also contributes to the wellbeing of the occupier!
Brief overview of garden?
My idea was inspired by some refreshing new global solutions to greening up urban areas at the architecture stage. Stefano Boeri’s ‘Bosco Verticale’ in Milan combines high-density residential development with tree planting at a level which sets the bar high for new developments, featuring as many trees on his tower blocks as can be planted in a hectare of forest on the ground! The project increases biodiversity by providing urban habitats for birds and insects, and creates a vertical micro-climate, filtering air and acoustic pollution.
However, the vast number of existing tower blocks found in most of the cities around the UK should not be excluded from this new way of thinking, and they can easily be retro-fitted with ‘vertical gardens’ at low cost, using recycled or up-cycled materials.
Balconies are often the only immediate outdoor spaces available and accessible directly to residents from these high-rise flats, and are often used solely as a space to dry clothes in good weather. They have the potential to house a fully functioning garden space where food can be grown, new plants propagated, and wellbeing can be encouraged through gardening and relaxation.
My garden aims to get this point across in a humorous way!
What do you love most about gardening?
I love the feeling that I’m influencing the ecosystem of the planet in a positive way, one square metre at a time! And I love to discover new ideas in creative landscaping. I love being outdoors, and just taking in the natural world. And I love nature’s bizarre sense of humour; the vigour with which a plant grows out of the cracks of a disused government building, or a bird makes a nest at the top of a telegraph pole.
What are you most looking forward to at Gardening Scotland?
I’m most looking forward to meeting other people who have a passion for gardening of course, and seeing all of the other displays if I get the chance. There’s an opportunity for learning something new every day, and Gardening Scotland seems like a good environment for that.


Gardening Scotland runs from 1st June – 3rd June at the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh

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