Making Cumbernauld bloom for a national competition

Members of Cumbernauld Living Landscape's Natural Connections project have been involved in planting native flowers in preparation for Beautiful Scotland.
Members of Cumbernauld Living Landscape's Natural Connections project have been involved in planting native flowers in preparation for Beautiful Scotland.

Efforts to shake Cumbernauld’s concrete jungle tag and help it to bloom are continuing once again in 2017 as the town prepares to enter a prestigious environmental competition.

This year Cumbernauld Living Landscape’s Natural Connections Project is co-ordinating the town’s Beautiful Scotland entry in the national Beautiful Scotland competition organised by Keep Scotland Beautiful.

‘Cumbernauld’s Bloomin’ Wild’ is entering the annual campaign which supports community groups across Scotland as they seek to improve and enhance their local environment. Beautiful Scotland is a competition with an extensive set of categories and awards.

The town will be hoping to repeat its 2016 success which saw Cumbernauld retain its Silver Award in the hard-fought Small City category.

Cumbernauld Living Landscape is a partnership project led by the Scottish Wildlife Trust, North Lanarkshire Council, Forestry Commission Scotland and The Conservation Volunteers. It was launched in 2013.

Its Natural Connections initiative, funded through the Heritage Lottery Fund, has built on the activities of the Cumbernauld Living Landscape to enhance, restore and reconnect green areas of the town.

Tracy Lambert, community engagement officer, explained more about the scheme: “The project encouraged young people from marginalised groups to learn about, value and celebrate their local natural heritage,” she said.

“This has been achieved through workshops to learn tasks, such as outdoor cooking and wood carving, all aimed at building employability skills. It has also given local volunteers the opportunities and skills to make improvements to three important wildlife sites through regular monthly volunteer days.”

Another local group has also been getting involved to ensure Cumbernauld looks its best for the competition.

One aspect of the contest is the preparation of a portfolio of photographs of the town.

And members of the Wild Ways Well group have been out and about in the town taking the best snaps for this.

Paul Barclay, senior project officer (Wild Ways Well), said: “Wild Ways Well is a joint project between Cumbernauld Living Landscape and The Conservation Volunteers. It aims to demonstrate the positive effect that time spent outdoors amongst nature can have on peoples’ mental well-being. We take people suffering from, or at risk of, poor mental health out into the parks and nature reserves of Cumbernauld and spend time watching wildlife, learning new conservation skills, trying environmental art and discovering new greenspaces.”

Paul continued: “Photography provides opportunities to connect. While walking and admiring the flowers we got talking to some of Cumbernauld’s gardeners and learned about their motivations and inspirations.

“The photographs we took will be used in the competition portfolio and we’ll be able to show just how full of nature, flowers, life and beauty Cumbernauld really is.”

Tracy said it is important for Cumbernauld to be represented in this competition: “Unfortunately the town’s image has suffered due to being a previous winner of a not so nice accolade (the Carbuncle award), but it is about time it was put behind us and we focused on what is good about the town. More importantly there are lots of people and groups in the town who work diligently to maintain their greenspaces for their communities, awards of this calibre help to build support and capacity for the groups. The award also is a chance for these individuals, groups and organisations to gain recognition for the hard work and effort put in to make our town look beautiful.

“We are a slightly different entry than other towns with the focus of natural environments as opposed to the traditional horticultural beds in formal parks, hence our entry name.

“In previous years the Cumbernauld Environmental Society entered this award for the town and gained silver for at least six years. It also gained the prestigious rosebowl in 2013 presented to the overall winner. This year is regarded as a new entry and we hope to do the previous entries proud.”

She continued: “Beautiful Scotland runs over a period of a year with a portfolio submitted by July and judging is on August 7. This year we have been invited to Dunfermline for the awards ceremony in September where we hope to come home with at least a silver. You are always going for gold but as this is our first year for entering we are starting small.”