Our History


Our garden’s journey started when the Merchant City and Trongate Community Council asked Glasgow City Council to provide a growing space in the city centre. We were lucky that there was a local Action Plan that had money for capital works and that Scottish Enterprise had land available.  At the same time Ladywell & High Street Residents & Tenants Association were looking to create a similar project. When we opened the garden in 2012, it included people from both areas.

Design & Build 
The original garden in Shuttle Street was designed by ERZ, Landscape Architects and the contractor was Glasgow Wood Recycling. The project was managed by SAGE, Sow and Grow Everywhere.  SAGE  helped us set up a committee to run the garden.  Our committee successfully applied for grants from Stalled Spaces and Area Committees. When we got the keys to the garden in May 2012, we expected to be there for three years but we were there for eleven. 

Naming the garden

We discovered that our garden in Shuttle Street was next to the location of a 15th Century Franciscan Friary. We could even see part of their original well. When we realised that the Franciscans wore grey habits, we decided to call ourselves Greyfriars Garden as a nod to the city’s medieval history. We added “biophilic” to our name when we applied for charitable status. Why “biophilic” and what does it mean? Biophilia literally means love of life, love of living things, love of nature. When we walk into our garden, it is love at first sight!

Organisational Structure

We started off as an unincorporated organisation with a constitution, a bank account, a committee, BUT we weren’t a charity.  We decided to go for charitable status and in May 2021 we registered as a SCIO, a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation.  Our members elect 5 Trustees and  in addition we can co-opt a further 2 trustees.

Where you can find us.

In April 2023, we moved from Shuttle St to our new home at 321 High Street. We are on the site of the former Hydraulic Pumping Station for Glasgow which was built in 1895. Its job was to supply water at high pressure to premises in the city centre to operate lifts, presses and other devices. It continued until 1964. Our High St garden looks very different from our previous one. We met with the Council’s Landscape Design team to tell them what worked and didn’t work in our original site and we’re happy with the new design for the raised beds.


Funding for our High St Garden has come from the Vacant and Derelict Land Fund, the Food Growing Strategy and the City Centre Strategy. There was also in-kind support from Glasgow City Council’s Neighbourhood Regeneration Sustainability teams including Parks Development, the Landscape Design Team and the Community Payback Team.  The contractor who built it was Landscape Solutions

 Historic Links with the Trades House

Our metal fence has some decorative panels featuring the crests of the 14 Incorporations or Crafts of the Trades House. We are also located very close to the site of the Alms House set up by the Trades House in 1605. The link between Greyfriars Garden and the Incorporation of Gardeners goes back a long way.  A market garden was first established on our original site in 1610/11 by John Govan, who was one of the first Deacons and was the first Gardener to be mentioned in Trades House minutes in 1605. If you want to find out more about the Trades House, click on this link  https://www.tradeshouse.org.uk/

Biophilia is the term coined by the Harvard naturalist Dr. Edward O. Wilson to describe what he saw as humanity's "innate tendency to focus on life and lifelike processes," and to be drawn toward nature, to feel an affinity for it, a love, a craving. Natalie Angier

Do human beings have within them an innate sense of connection to other forms of life? If so, can this natural feeling, this "biophilia," both enhance our respect for ourselves as human and reinforce our sense of obligation to treat other forms of life with loving care? T. H. Watkins
Source: merriam-webster.com