Cove Park will be one of 12 Unexpected Gardens partners around Scotland as part of creative programme Dandelion, showing that even the unlikeliest of places can bloom.

Gardens are set to transform patches of unused land and unexpected places in Argyll. Cove Park is delighted to announce a new partnership with creative arts programme Dandelion, to grow Unexpected Gardens at tidal sites along Loch Long and Gare Loch.

Commissioned by EventScotland and funded via the Scottish Government, Dandelion is Scotland’s contribution to UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, a nationwide programme of creative events and engagement. Driven by the concept of ‘Sow, Grow, Share’ – not just food but ideas, music, scientific knowledge, and community – Dandelion takes a unique approach to growing. Bringing together artists, scientists, performers, and technologists to present events and programmes throughout Scotland, including the Unexpected Gardens, Dandelion will culminate in hundreds of harvest celebrations later this year.

Bringing new life to community libraries, car parks and even tidal sites from the Western Isles to the Borders, the Unexpected Gardens are set to be a highlight of Dandelion, taking place from April to September 2022.

The Cove Park gardens will be artist-led, with the chosen artist developing three sites along the Rosneath Peninsula: a disused car park at Centre 81 Community Centre in Garelochhead and the Sailing Club in Cove. Both are sites on the shore, sharing a proximity with salt and fresh water, and managed by a plethora of intergenerational communities.

Francesca Bertolotti-Bailey, CEO, Cove Park said: “We are extremely grateful to Dandelion to give us the opportunity to work with the ecologies, histories and communities unique to Loch Long and Gare Loch. These partnerships allow us to generate new ideas, projects and activities for exchange, collaboration and care around the communal production of food at times of climate chaos.”

Cove Park is working with these communities to unearth, discuss and share local traditions and indigenous wisdom in relation to gathering and growing food on the shore, from seaweed to sea buckthorn. This knowledge is in danger of being lost or forgotten, in the same way that the shore around Loch Long and Gare Loch may be submerged by increasing sea levels in decades to come. With the help of Dandelion, Cove Park will instigate old and new conversations around current and future environmental issues of justice, sovereignty, and sustainability, and feed the grounds for autonomous action in the long term.

Katie Mackay, Manager, Centre 81 said: “Centre 81 is delighted to be part of Cove Park’s Unexpected Gardens Project. Turning an unused area of our car park into a productive, accessible garden will provide an inspiring area for all centre users to grow, engage and facilitate conversations about the environment, sustainability and what growing means for our community.”

Wells Grogan, Commodore at Cove Sailing Club said: “We are excited to be involved with Dandelion and Cove Park for the creation of an Unexpected Garden. Typically, our members are on the water but many are non-sailors or ex sailors. Creating and caring for a garden will provide an enjoyable and sociable activity in our fantastic lochside location and perhaps grow some wonderful produce for our kitchen. It will also provide an opportunity for members of the community and visitors to share in this, visit with friends or neighbours, and appreciate the environment of the seashore.”

Other sites include one stunning ‘Floating Garden’ which will tour the Forth and Clyde Canal, and the Union Canal from June. In Forres, Findhorn Bay Arts’ unique garden will respond to the town’s main square and multiple alleys, promoting the growing of mushrooms which will thrive in the dark shadowy entryways.

In Fife, the Leven Programme will convert the car park of The Centre – a community space – into a garden site. In the Highlands, arriving to sites across Caithness, Lyth Arts Centre’s Garden will roll off a trailer and become home to a performance and workshop space.

Elsewhere in Scotland, Edinburgh Agroecology Group will develop a garden site at Lauriston Farm, RIG Arts will take over a site behind South West Library in Greenock, Taigh Chearsabhagh in Uist, Fèis Rois in Alness, The Stove Network and Stranraer Development Trust, Alchemy Film & Arts in the Borders and a partnership of organisations in Dundee also dusting off their green fingers to get involved!


The Musician in Residence will respond to, and create work, linked to the new Unexpected Garden spaces being developed with each Dandelion partner organisation. This response may involve a participatory programme and/or creation of a new piece of work to be presented at the culminating Harvest events. The Musician should have an interest in exploring ideas or issues around growing, climate crisis and culture that matter to the people living in the communities in which they are working. The deadline to apply is 12 noon on Thursday 10 March. For more information and how to apply, visit Dandelion Opportunities. 

Image by Andrew Cawley

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