Broomy’s Bees


RIG Arts are extending our involvement with the regeneration of Broomhill by building two community gardens – ‘Broomy’s Bees’ and ‘Broomy’s Butterflies’ – in the area. The garden will support a mini-ecosystem for the area which will in turn support the important campaign to save Britain’s bees.

Broomy’s Bees’ garden links Greenock’s industrial heritage, particularly the history of the Tate & Lyle sugar factory, with a plan to support the campaign to save Britain’s bees, and provide an important footstep towards Broomhill’s regeneration. Tate & Lyle were producers of Lyle’s Golden Syrup, which has the distinctive logo of a dead lion with bees buzzing over it. Underneath, the motto “Out of the strong came forth sweetness” is taken from a Biblical story in which Samson kills a lion, and when passing the same spot on his return notices that a swarm of bees have formed a honeycomb in the carcass. It is thought that the symbolism used by Tate & Lyle refers either to the strength of the company or the tins in which golden syrup is sold. However, RIG Arts also believes that this symbolism can be applied to the current large-scale redevelopment Broomhill is undergoing: out of Greenock’s strong heritage will be a sweet future. The garden will include both covered and uncovered seating, so that ‘Broomy’s Bees’ can be enjoyed even in bad weather, as well as planter beds designed to flower throughout the year attracting a variety of insects, supporting a mini-ecosystem for the area.

‘Broomy’s Bees’ will also act as an educational sensory garden. Information will be provided on tactile surfaces with facts and engaging statements about ecosystems and geography engraved into tiles. These will also bring more colour, especially in the winter months. Bug boxes will be made during community workshops and installed in the garden. Further sensory elements will be provided in terms of planters and fence railings using the honey-comb structure, reeds and rushes that can be said to sound like the buzzing of insects, and patterned windbreakers, also providing more shelter.

Light designers will be commissioned to create subtle interactive lighting to increase safety and create a welcoming atmosphere to the garden after dark. General overhead lighting will not be used so as to avoid mimicking natural daylight, instead creating variance and adding another reason to visit the garden throughout the evening, particularly welcome in the winter months with shorter daylight hours. Simple spot-lighting would be used to highlight the engraved information tiles.

The current site is a concrete courtyard on Ann Street directly across from three high-rise tower blocks of flats. The space would be an ideal relaxation and respite area for the residents who do not have access to their own gardens. There are currently 5 planters on the site however they are overgrown and the concrete area is riddled with weeds. This is the perfect time for improvement as it is coming hand in hand with Broomhill’s regeneration and the growing sense of community pride and ownership in the local residents.

What is involved with the making of the garden:

  • We will improve biodiversity by bringing a range of planted and wildflowers into the mainly concrete area of Broomhill. This will attract bees and other wildlife, facilitating cross pollination of plants and create an environment where wildlife can thrive. The introduction of wildlife and greenery into the urban space will regulate air quality and climate change.
  • We will promote physical activity by making the green space an inviting environment to encourage residents out of their flats, to take walks with pets and to take their children out to play etc. The garden will be a welcoming space to encourage people who are hesitant to leave their home to spend active time outdoors in a place that is local enough not to be too daunting.
  • We will improve wellbeing through creating an outdoor space to facilitate healthy and happy communities. Regular contact with plants, animals and a natural environment for people who live in an urban, mainly concrete area will improve both physical and mental wellbeing.
  • We will create mini allotments as part of the original development of the space – with local residents taking ownership of small pieces of the garden. There will be one team leader/volunteer who residents will be able to report to concerning their allotments and who can maintain the garden more generally.

These are the initial plans for the garden, but they may be subject to change.