Since 2016 our aim has been to provide a beautiful garden space for people and plants to grow – a perfect place for the nurture of Health and Wellbeing, and the promotion of Biodiversity and Sustainability .
So far we have laid out the structure and created several planted areas of flowers, shrubs, willow, and vegetables beds, an orchard and a forest garden.
We have a volunteer hut, bee hives and a polytunnel, and provide opportunities for developing horticultural and craft skills through practice and courses.
This a young project with a long way to go. It’s exciting to see the garden develop, and it has great potential. There are so many opportunities to have a go, and we would love others to come along and enjoy the journey with us.
We meet twice weekly to work in the garden, catch up, learn and be inspired.
Many of our projects are ongoing – such is the nature of gardening, with up-keep and maintenance of the cut flower garden, shrub borders, orchard and grassy areas keeping people busy. We raise plants from seed and cuttings to plant or sell, and grow produce in the polytunnel.
But we also have projects in their infancy such as the Forest Garden and Veg beds being developed with Permaculture in mind, and lots more potential for creating a fantastic productive space.
Building and Landscaping
Fundraising, donations and hard work have allowed us to erect the hut and polytunnel which are both much appreciated and well used by volunteers.
The next exciting phase is the new craft centre.
We use the resources of the garden to run courses on willow weaving and bee keeping. These are open to all, and we plan to offer a wider range of classes in the future.
Presently we are seeking funds for our new exciting project to build an experimental archaeological early medieval roundhouse from hazel and willow. The project will be overseen by local archaeological wood expert Hamish Darrah who will teach the traditional skills required, and will help to forge links with other local community groups, ultimately providing the garden with a very unique space.
Health and Wellbeing
As a member of Trellis, the Scottish Therapeutic Gardening Network, we subscribe to the idea that gardening can positively affect our health. We support each other to develop our physical and mental well-being as we enjoy work in the peaceful atmosphere of the garden, respecting each other’s need for companionship or quiet. ‘Growing at Gilmerton’ has developed as a collaborative project that aims to understand individual needs and welcomes input from everyone.
We provide a space for people to nurture health and well-being, with opportunities for personal change through time spent being, doing and learning in the garden.
All our volunteers will experience changes through becoming involved, which may include;
- Enhanced self-esteem resulting from activities well executed
- A feeling of personal involvement from collaborative working in an ongoing project
- Inner peace from the natural rhythms and stability of a garden space
- Opportunities for focussed attention providing respite from stress and worry
- Improved physical health through being active outside
- Increased interpersonal/social skills both within the garden and in their home life
- Less isolation and better community integration by working with others in a productive space
We take Health and Safety seriously. Volunteers are advised about simple, necessary precautions for safe working within the garden. All sessions are supported by at least one member of the Volunteer Steering Group.
The Walled Garden is surrounded on three sides by woodland belonging to the Gilmerton Estate. To the south are arable fields typical of agricultural land in East Lothian.
With species decline now being seen within the widely recognised global climate emergency, we are keen that this garden should embrace biodiversity and be a home for many species. We see our efforts as part of a national move to provide a corridor for wildlife; part of East Lothian’s network of green spaces.
Our gardening practice is geared to supporting pollinator and other insects.
Already we have noticed an increase in insect life, as both cultivated flowers and wild ones, attract a range of visitors. Bumble bees, honey bees, and other types of bees, moths, flies and butterflies feed on wild flowers such as dead nettle, yarrow, teasel, alkanet, clover and vetch. Understanding that the larval stages of our insects need to be nurtured, as well as the attractive adults, we have left areas uncultivated, allowing nettles, grasses and wild flowers to grow along the walls.
In our cultivated flower garden we grow old fashioned perennials and, wherever possible, we select the best forms to provide nectar and pollen for bees. We manage the garden without using pesticide or herbicide. A less tidy sort of garden, for sure, but a friendly one.
We keep a biodiversity log book to record sightings – which has resulted in more discussion around what we have seen and how to encourage biodiversity. In 2018 we found elephant hawkmoth larvae in willow herb, and a puss moth caterpillar in the willow bed. Inspired by these finds, we invited Kati Baird to do a moth count and were pleased to record the presence of a wide range of species.
We have good contacts with the local ranger service and hope to welcome them to work on projects with children in the garden.
Whenever possible we try to reduce, re-use and recycle…
- Using reconditioned tools and making our own compost are ways in which we can reduce our carbon footprint as gardeners.
- When we do buy in compost, we source it from local suppliers who make the compost using recycled materials.
- We are lucky to have in-house expertise, with volunteers who enjoy mending things and building with reclaimed timber.
- We make our own plant supports from the willow we have grown from donated cuttings.
- Although we inherited many plastic pots at the start of the project, we try to conserve these, reusing them many times.
- We grow comfrey to make our own organic, nutrient-rich plant feed
- Waterbutts on the hut and craft building allow us to conserve water
- We collect vegetable and flower seeds to sow again next year
Get involved with the Gilmerton House Kitchen Garden through one of our many projects or by helping advertise us in your shop or at your event.
Please contact us to find-out how you can volunteer and support Growing at Gilmerton.
- Hazel Roundhouse
- Planting a dyer’s garden.
- Continuing to plant and develop woodland/forest garden.
- Developing the vegetable beds and investigating new growing methods.