Greenbank Garden lies on the very southern edge of the Glasgow conurbation. Just over five miles south of the city centre, this really is the point at which the city meets the countryside. What you find here is a 2.5 acre or 1 hectare walled garden divided into a series of discrete "rooms" intended to give gardeners used to a more domestic scale inspiration, ideas, or simply enjoyment.
The surrounding grounds amount to a further 6 hectares or 15 acres and include a woodland walk. Meanwhile, the beautiful Greenbank House, normally used as offices by the National Trust for Scotland, is open on summer Sunday afternoons.
Greenbank is an important garden in its own right. There are some 3,700 named species of plants to be found here, including a national collection of Bergenias and over 447 different named forms of Narcissus. The garden also includes a trials area used by "Gardening Which" to assess the suitability of plants for the Scottish climate.
Everyone will find something to enjoy at Greenbank. You approach the garden from the car park to its east, and enter via the tea room and shop, then through a courtyard that doubles as a plant sales area and outdoor seating for the tea room, and finally emerge on the lawn that extends to the south of Greenbank House itself.
Crossing the lawn brings you to gateway to the the walled garden. Within the garden, favourites include the topiary area, complete with a very large rabbit standing on its hind legs and, presumably, eating a carrot. On the opposite side are the superb anniversary borders, celebrating 30 years of ownership of Greenbank by the National Trust for Scotland, and 25 years of support by the Friends of Greenbank.
The sound of bubbling water will, sooner or later, lead you to the foam fountain. This isn't quite what the name suggests: instead you find twin jets of water playing over the statue of "Foam" a green and obviously female water nymph.
The centre of the garden is marked by a sundial, and beyond it you find the foliage and cottage gardens, the "winter and spring" garden, the summer garden, and the autumn walk. These are balanced by a series of raised beds and by the garden's nursery and greenhouses.
Immediately to the east of the walled garden is the woodland walk, which is especially attractive in spring, when the daffodils are in bloom.
The story of Greenbank is almost as interesting as the garden itself, if perhaps a little more morally complicated. The house and its walled garden were built for Robert Allason in the 1760s. Robert was a local lad who had started out as a baker. He then set up with his brothers as traders and merchants in Port Glasgow and later diversified into land holdings in the Caribbean.
Their trade, primarily in tobacco and slaves, soon made them very rich men, and Robert used his part of the family fortune to return to Clarkston, buy Flenders Farm, and establish Greenbank House.
Whether the source of the money that originally paid for Greenbank makes any difference to your enjoyment of its beauty today is a matter for you. But it is interesting as you look around this sublime oasis to bear in mind what allowed it to come about.
Over the years, many different people have owned Greenbank House and the surrounding estate. In 1962, it was purchased by William Blyth. Until then the walled garden had served the house primarily as a source of fruit and vegetables and it was William Blyth who set to work transforming it into an ornamental garden of the sort you see today.
In 1976, William Blyth gifted Greenbank House and Garden to the National Trust for Scotland, and since then the NTS has worked to built on what Blyth began, since 1981 with the help of volunteers from the Friends of Greenbank Garden.