Zetland Park celebrations

In 1880 the Earl of Shetland gifted land in the centre of Grangemouth for the creation of what became Zetland Park. It’s safe to say that raingardens at that time were not on the agenda. Fast forward to a glorious sunny day in 2022 and a newly created raingarden was one of the stars of the show as Grangemouth turned out to celebrate its impressively transformed public park.

Mind you changes in Zetland Park aren’t entirely new.  For the duration of  World War Two a corner of the park, previously housing a popular rose garden, was given over to allotments. And it is that very corner of the park that now boasts a striking nature-based solution in the shape of a brand new raingarden.

The Rose Garden, we should stress, lives on, but by integrating a raingarden this corner now has a versatility it perhaps lacked before.  Prone to occasional flooding, the rose garden will benefit from a highly sustainable drainage solution. It’s a piece of blue-green infrastructure well worth celebrating. The rain garden in essence means the rose garden has a better future.

Created by the Green Action Trust, who tapped into funds provided by NatureScot, National Lottery Heritage Fund and Falkirk Council, this is a slice of sustainable drainage which will demonstrate a range of benefits in an urban setting.  These include showing how we can create sympathetically designed nature based solutions which offer much needed mitigation against pressing climate change issues such as the threats of flash floods and drought.

Creating the rain garden

What’s more the raingarden is good news for biodiversity and will provide habitat for a range of species, including pollinators and other insects. One of the biggest bonuses for people will the health and wellbeing opportunities; good quality greenspaces which allow people to connect with nature are widely acknowledged to help tackle a range of health issues, from encouraging active outdoor activities to improving our mental health. With raised beds the opportunities for more people to get involved.

And what a result. The stunning rain garden at Zetland Park, set in a tranquil corner

“Working in partnership with the Green Action Trust on the development of Zetland Park Raingarden has been a really positive experience”, according to Allana Hughes, the Zetland Park Project Officer at Falkirk Council. “Using their knowledge and ability to secure funding to further support the project, we have transformed the park’s rose garden from an area which frequently flooded and was in decline into a garden which is once again loved by the community.”

The local council are justifiably proud of the regeneration of Zetland Park which boasts meadows, a naturalised pond and both young fruit trees and mature trees.  The ‘Grand Re-Opening Event’ in late August, which fell on a glorious sunny day, was designed to celebrate that progress and invite the local community to enjoy and rediscover their local park.

The event brought together a partners village where a range of nature focussed groups including The Scottish Wildlife Trust, RSPB, Froglife, and NatureScot were able to share examples of their work.  A range of activities organised by the Friends of Zetland Park, including a raucous duck-race, sports events and live music,  provided a cheerful back drop to a fantastic day. Money raised from this event will be used to continue to develop the rose/rain garden.

The Friends of Zetland Park should be delighted with the carefully designed transformation of this popular public greenspace, and the Earl of Shetland would surely have been delighted to see his legacy living on.

The ‘rain garden team’ from Green Action Trust. Left to right – Laura Shofield (Development Manager), Emilie Wadsworth (Operations Director), and Rachel Howlett (Raingardens Development Officer)

Notes: The Green Action Trust worked with a range of partners including Falkirk Council and the local Grangemouth community. Financial assistance came from bodies including NatureScot (who manage the Scottish Government’s Nature Restoration Fund), National Lottery Heritage Fund, and Falkirk Council.

Images 1 and 2 courtesy and copyright of Falkirk Council.