Unexpected Gardens

Dandelion’s Unexpected Gardens stand as living, breathing and growing proof that even the unlikeliest places can blossom and bloom. Springing up in all sorts of surprising spots across Scotland, from the Borders to the Highlands to the Islands, they were spaces to grow – but also places to gather, hosting events, activities, workshops and performances. 

Even though Dandelion has officially ended, the Unexpected Gardens continue, and SRUC students and staff can make contact with gardens near them to sow, grow and share together.


For 150 years, the ferry terminal at Stranraer welcomed boats going to and from Ireland. Maritime constructions of a very different kind appeared on a stretch of land, affectionately known as the Grassy Knoll, that overlooks the former port and the beautiful expanse of Loch Ryan beyond. Offering an injection of colour and life to the harbour area, these large installation pieces are at the heart of the nautical-themed garden that supported regeneration, and put food growing back at the heart of the town. The garden takes inspiration from Stranraer’s maritime identity and history, with residents playing a key role in the design and transformation of the space. A collaboration between award-winning arts and community project The Stove Network, and the Stranraer Development Trust, this coastal garden was developed with and for the local community, properly marking the arts, crafts, heritage, produce and culture of the area. People can meet, sow, grow and share at the garden, all while enjoying views of the sea stretching towards the horizon.

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The Drying Green, Greenock

Inspired by (and named after) the traditional communal laundry areas shared by tenement buildings throughout Scotland – the places where communities grew close through games, leisure and shared childcare, this community-led garden occupies a space behind the South West Library in Greenock and accommodates a reading garden for the library as well as community-focused activities. 

During the Dandelion project, the garden hosted story-telling, poetry and craft sessions and workshops and is now fundraising for cooking afternoons at Belville garden, grow-at-home packs, a seed library, information packs, and further times towards the growing officer working there.

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GalGael Garden and Ibrox Commons, Glasgow

GalGael's garden and the adjoining Ibrox Commons are a space for learning, growing and gathering. They grow a mix of vegetables, fruit, flowers and herbs -for food, for beauty and for ceremony, on an organic basis with the help of a lead gardener (who's at the garden two days a week) and a team of supportive volunteers. 

Ibrox Commons mostly provides growing space for local residents and somewhere beautiful for them to walk their dogs. They also have a hand in shaping the planning and implementation of this space and try to stay responsive to the community's needs and feedback. 

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The Orchard, Leven

Vertical growing, upcycled railway parts and interactive elements gave a new lease of life to the car park of Leven Community Centre, a market garden inspired by the planned reopening of the Leven railway line was created. In celebration of this development, long hoped for by the community, the garden reimagined the railway in miniature scale. Leven residents drove the whole concept, a result of a close collaboration between The Leven Programme and its community. The garden incorporates sensory elements to immerse visitors in a fun, surprising environment, with the concrete surrounds of the car park transformed into a thriving, above ground construction filled with edible plants. Beautiful but functional too, the garden includes a stage and seating area where performances, growing and cooking classes, arts activities, climate and sustainability workshops, intergenerational activities and more are held. A place to explore, unwind, socialise, learn new things and help grow food for the community. This is not your ordinary car park!

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With views over Loch Long and Gareloch, the Unexpected Gardens in Argyll share a proximity with salt and fresh water, basing their gardens around the nearby flora and fauna. This makes them fascinating locations to explore how the area's indigenous plant life is used in food, medicine, dyed textiles and art. 

The Cove Sailing Club's garden uses their space in an allotment type capacity, have established a monthly Scran providing free family meals using produce from the garden, and grow perennials and planters with peas, strawberries, and potatoes.

The garden at Centre81 is used by various groups and individuals who use it (including carers, youth groups, Cafe n' play, a veterans charity, people with additional support needs, people in pre-employability programmes and volunteers) as well as people and groups from the local community, including the local ELC In addition, the successfully grown produce from here has been shared with the community and used within the centre to provide free lunches for community groups.

Cove Sailing Club

Centre 81


The garden is located on Lauriston Farm, neighbour to Lauriston Castle, with dramatic views of the North Sea and surrounded by the communities of Silverknowes, Muithouse and Cramond.

A small mound has been landscaped into a gentle amphitheatre, filled with coastal planting and wild crop relatives, that gives a vantage point from which to take in the 100 acres of Lauriston Farm. Wildflowers, herbaceous, edible and medicinal plants grow in planters across the site, with scattered fruit trees across the garden. 

The garden also hosts music and theatre performances, workshops, volunteer sessions, a wildflower nursery and medicinal herbalist sessions harvested from the crops growing in the garden plot. 

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