"SO are you going to release my inner Poldark?" I ask scythe-sharpening outdoorsman Stephen Porch. "Poldark?" he replied. "Never seen him. Heard he wasn't that good with a scythe."

So we're maybe not going to recreate television's famous scything scene after all. And we're not in a wheat-field in Cornwall either. We're on the site of a disused sewage plant. Next door is where a dog-food factory stood. It is the outskirts of Glasgow after all.

The derelict sewage works are at Barrhead, the former textile and manufacturing town, just a few miles from the genteel suburb of Newton Mearns, which has had a tough few years dealing with the closure of much of its industry. Spillers, canners of Kennomeat have gone, as have the mines, the carpet factory, and more recently Armitage Shanks pulled the plug on its ceramic toilet factory.

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So the sewage works closed and became derelict land - handy for dumping the occasional old sofa and that was about it. The only good thing about it, say locals, is the area no longer has a certain whiff in the air when the wind is blowing the wrong way.

Then came some lottery money. Not much. But enough to turn this unloved and forgotten area into a small patch of wild flowers with a decent path built through it. Now they have not created the Hanging Gardens of Babylon here, which is perhaps the point. Well-tended gardens, such as the nearby Rouken Glen Park, costs thousands in upkeep every year with dedicated staff to look after it. This is a more modest project. Plant some wild flowers, put in some paths, take the old rubbish away. It will need the minimum amount of care which is good from a frugal council point of view, but at least improves the area.

And so The Water Works at Barrhead were born. Wisely they concentrated on the water aspect rather than the sewage aspect when thinking of a name. The plan can be summed up as turning a no go area into a must go one. Council officer Mark Brand showed me round, and explained that the project had involved local school pupils, with teenagers from the nearby secondary planting apple trees in the makeshift orchard. Primary pupils have planted a pumpkin patch.

Now apple trees can take a few years to reach maturity, but pumpkins, well they just shoot up it seems. Must be something in the soil. Well in fact there is, says Mark. A local stable has helpfully provided some sacks full of the by-product of horses. A little wooden sign carries the gentle hand-painted admonishment "Please leave the pumpkins. They were planted by children for children."

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They are yellow, not orange. Not sure if that is because of the variety or whether there is a sunshine deficit in Barrhead. They are big though, and growing. Should be ready just in time for Hallowe'en.

There are beehives also, built by local retired joiners. You sense that Barrhead, like many Scots towns, has a surfeit of retired craftsmen who have skills that could be put to use. Says Mark: "The skills are amazing. The measurements are so precise. If you are just a millimetre out the bees won't take to the hive, or something like that."

So the area is used by school pupils, retirees, and groups involved in therapeutic gardening. There are many who can benefit from saving even a small patch of land from the fly-tippers.

And then we had the scything workshop at the weekend. You see wild flowers will simply be enveloped by grass if left alone. Giant grass-cutters use fuel and can be a bit indiscriminate in their cutting. So bearded Stephen, a natural networks project officer, came long with his scythe to show how it is done.

The schoolboy error is to attack the grass with the scythe. That will just leave you knackered. It is gentle sweeping strokes from three o'clock to eleven o'clock if you imagine a clock face. And you have to swivel on your feet. And keep your legs bent, Now that bit looks complicated. "It's a bit like tai chi," says Stephen. "Looks a bit like being a goalkeeper," says Mark. You sense he is grasping for a more recognisable synonym as perhaps tai chi is not uppermost in the minds of Borrheedians. And the blade is kept far closer to the ground than I expected.

It also clears the grass astonishingly quickly. The arc of a scythe is larger than you realise.

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Stephen, who originally trained in lighting design, before seeking a career outdoors, is a big fan. "You don't need petrol of course, and it is a lot quieter. Whole communities would go out hay-making together and would be able to hold conversations as they worked, catching up on all the local news.

"Scything lets the seeds set, and lets light in. It's a fluid movement, letting the tool do the work. Anyone can do it. And this area has many tree frogs. Using a trimmer could have been horrendous."

I've always regarded the phrase "anyone can do it" as more of a warning than a sign of reassurance. But Stephen has a rhythm going. The long grass is quickly disappearing. Every few minutes he stops to give the blade a quick sharpen with a whetstone he keeps in a holster at his waist.

The wild flowers include cornflowers, clovers, corn marigolds. I can easily spot red poppies, but after that my wild flower knowledge is scant. But much of the summer colour has already died away. Council officer Mark is already planning what other wild flowers can be added to extend the colours further into the autumn. Concrete pipes have been donated by civil engineers George Leslie who have a depot on Barrhead. The concrete sections are standing upright and can be used for planting strawberries and other fruits.

So slowly the area will develop, involving local people as much as possible. But it will never be huge. Just a local patch of colour and somewhere pleasant to stroll.

Sadly, much as I tried, it didn't turn me into Poldark.