Harvest Season and fruits to come

July was a busy month with lots of visitors, new recruits and volunteers helping to bash thistles and other weeds that seed to open up new areas of the garden to community use.

Our first harvests from the kitchen garden are ready to share, delicious hardneck garlic, new potatoes and courgettes. It was a pleasure to picnic and chat about future plans and dreams for the heritage environment. Meet with many interested people and plan things we can do together in the ‘secret garden’.

farmers picnic

Harvest picnic with the garlic filled gazebo photo from Ashley Erdman

The month was made complete with a lovely evening at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh for the preview of the community exhibits, part of the Edinburgh Shoreline  open until the 23rd September. Edinburgh Shoreline Exhibition


Proud knitters with a beautiful backdrop of everyone’s work

Our next Open Door tours day is Saturday 4th August from 12-2ish. Details here Event post

Volunteer mini-sessions to continue on a Weds and Sunday from 11-1pm. Lots of harvesting, weeding, seedsowing, mulching, compost making, firepit building, bramble picking and perhaps some rustic carpentry…watch this space.

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July Open Day & RBGE Shoreline Exhibition

Sunshine and some welcome rain have brought the new plants and heritage fruit trees back to life with a spurt of growth to match the energy and enthusiasm of the amazing garden volunteers. Last summer we began clearing the weeds and broken glass from the 1920’s central glasshouse.  A short film below from In My Presence artists collective made in 2017, capturing the midsummer work tending to the deep soil of the garden and the beginning of its transformation.

Over the winter and early spring of 2018 we continued clearing the invading scrub and tree saplings from about 3/4 of the fertile North Terrace. Creating space and light for community aspirations such as the community orchard and kitchen garden now being planted.


Volunteers amongst the poppies and gooseberries on a sunny Sunday morning

Still loads of work to be done to contain some of the perennial weeds over the summer before they flower and set seed. Thistles and willowherb mainly with the odd patch of  deadly hemlock still in the orchard, now being turned into compost in our newly installed black boxes thanks to the Centipede Project’s recycling.

Upcoming events in July

Volunteer mini-sessions set to continue twice weekly throughout July, Sun and Weds from 11-1pm at the garden.

Open Door Tours of the secret garden – Saturday 7th July, noon until 2ish. No need to book, just visit and enjoy the atmosphere.

Hidden Gems Walk – Thursday 12th July starting at 7pm with Pilton Community Health Project

Edinburgh Shoreline Exhibition – Friends Group story of Granton’s secret medieval garden opens alongside other community creations at the John Hope Gateway, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Running from the 28th July until 23rd September as part of the Edinburgh Shoreline Project. Find out more about the near miraculous survival story of a forgotten walled garden on Granton’s shore; now remembered and cherished thanks to the Smith’s, Written in Film and many more local residents getting involved.

John Smith was correct when he said we are in for ‘a lot of hard graft’, but many hands make the work lighter and it’s very satisfying to see the results. Huge thankyou to all those giving their time and energy.

“There is still so much left to save in this sleeping beauty garden”


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Summer events and volunteering opportunities

Lots happening at Granton’s lost castle garden this May and June behind the high walls. On the 16th we took part for the first time in the Power of Food Festival 2018 with great support and wonderful food provided by the World Kitchen in Leith. Huge thanks to all the volunteers involved in making this happen, for the effort on the day and work beforehand in preparation. The gazebo was very useful as a pop up picnic stall, food looked amazing.

POFF happy visitors

A feast for the eyes and taste buds too

The wee nettle tearoom improvised on the day by In My Presence was a delight to all who experienced the transformation of an overgrown corner into something magical, even in the frequent rain!

Good news is that volunteering mini-sessions will be continuing through the summer on a Wednesday and Sunday from 11-1pm. 

The garden is still very much a work in progress so if it is your first visit please wear sturdy shoes and perhaps bring a pair of gloves if you have them and want to help with the weeding. We hope to host another free open door tours day on Saturday the 7th July from noon until 2ish. Check out our Facebook page for any event updates.

Apart from birdwatching and identifying butterflies  and bees we have a good few gardening tasks to do too. On the menu for June activities.

Seed sowing and planting plans in the kitchen garden.

Harvesting soon of the early potatoes and garlic.

Wildflower planting and sowing for the bees and butterflies.

Building a firepit

Weeding and compost making

Probably a few other things too, depending on the weather and what needs done. Get in touch if you haven’t been along before and have any questions. There are no toilets at the garden and access is via a footpath from West Shore Road (roadside parking) or Caroline Park Avenue (private road) – cycletrack and footpath.

new location map for the walled garden with cycletracks and FG door

If you have visited the walled garden this year, volunteered or attended any events it would really help us if you could take 5 minutes to fill in the survey on formative plans and ideas for the historic garden’s restoration. We want to hear from you! Granton Walled Garden Survey

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Midsummer dreaming at Granton’s secret garden, 16th June…and beyond

The Friends Group will be opening the walled garden alongside many other community gardens around Edinburgh this weekend for the Power of Food Festival 2018.  poster for Granton's lost garden POFF

From noon until 4pm on Saturday the 16th of June. Expert local volunteers will be on hand offering guided tours on the hour, helping to tell the story of the late medieval garden’s survival on the waterfront alongside the World Kitchen in Leith

We hope to open this magical green haven of tranquillity to curious visitors & those keen to get involved and shape community plans for the future restoration.  Free entry and a multicultural picnic from 2-3pm. Documentary filmmakers Written in Film  will be present on the day recording the event.

The Friends Group are currently undertaking a survey of ideas suggested for future uses of the garden and possible sustainable income generation with help from Community Enterprise  Please fill in the electronic questionnaire if you are able,  Granton Walled Garden survey or come along to the garden where paper copies are to be found. We want to hear from you and need your opinions to help us prioritise and plan for the longer term.

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Hope to see you at the walled garden soon, where volunteer mini-sessions will continue on a Weds and Sunday from 11-1pm.  Photographs above from Mariola Albinowska.  Landscaping, planting, weeding and composting all in the plans for June. Our race against thistles and willowherb before they flower and set seed is on!

Get in touch first via our contacts page above if you haven’t been before, there is a wee bit of paperwork due to health and safety issues.

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Spring News, May 5th Open Door Tours & AGM

Spring has been slow to come this year but visitors and volunteers at the walled garden have been enthusiastic. Joining in with activities like planning and planting the community orchard, preparing the soil in the kitchen garden.

John at work on the dahlias with fingers covered

2018 brings exciting opportunities to take part in the Edinburgh Shoreline Exhibition  hosted and supported by the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, in conjunction with other community groups.

Our wonderful film in the making with Written in Film and the retired previous owners of the historic garden may be part of this. It is John and Agnes Smith whom we really have to thank for the enormous gift of their knowledge, experience and life stories being shared so kindly and warmly with us.



Hopeful news this April following our first meetings with the Granton Team from Edinburgh City Council and a new lease agreement for 2018 to look at with legal advice from the Community Land Advisory Service

Granton team visit to the doocot

Friends Group members admiring Granton castle doocot with the Granton Team

May 5th is our next Saturday afternoon open door tours day & will mark our first full season inside the secret garden and a famous historic event from the mid 1500’s….  Come along to hear more with a free guided tour, see the impact volunteers have been made, plans and ideas for the future.

Our  Annual General Meeting is being held at nearby historic landmark, Madelvic House, on the same morning. Members will be electing a new steering group and discussing what the future might hold as we move forward into our second year. AGM agenda 5th May 2018

5th May AGM plus tours at the garden final L

Save the midsummer date 16th June in your diary: our first time taking part in the Power of Food Festival when we hope to share some of our first harvests grown in Granton’s ‘lost’ castle garden. Help has been offered by the wonderful World Kitchen, who made this insightful short film..Food for thought

Lots of planting plans for April at our volunteer mini-sessions from 11-1pm on a Wednesday and Sunday. Get in touch via our contacts page if it is your first visit and you want to join in with work at the garden, there are some hazards and no services or toilets at the garden.  There is also a little bit of paperwork to complete on first entering and a wee induction tour. Sometimes we have documentary filmmakers and photographers present recording our progress Ashley Erdman 2017-18 images

Please get in touch if you would like to attend the morning 5th May AGM as seating spaces are limited. We are recruiting new steering group members, max 15, so let us know before the end of April if you want to help and have some time.

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March came in like a lion, Volunteers and Visitors we need you!

Our cancelled due to the snow March monthly tour is now on next weekend instead, weather permitting. Saturday 17th March noon until 2ish, come along and see the progress made in our first year, find out more, meet the people involved. Have your say about the latest plans and ideas for the historic garden restoration to benefit people, wildlife and the environment.

February was a busy month at Granton’s hidden gem on the waterfront. Flurries of snow, drizzle and sometimes sunshine all in one morning haven’t daunted our hardy volunteers and visitors this winter. Optimism and enthusiasm seem to be the hallmark of all our volunteers, sometimes joining in on a first time visit with the latest task at the secret garden. A short film made in Feb with kind help and support from Written in Film, helping us document community involvement and progress made this winter February 2018 inside Granton’s lost castle garden 

Snowdrops in the orchard

Spring is definitely on its way with the daintiest of flowers peeping out from the cold earth, still growing despite the recent snowdrifts.


The heritage orchard remains at the walled garden are now clear of scrub and ready for a bit of remedial pruning to help bring them back into fruit, even if just a few apples the taste of the past would be worth it. We have plans to regenerate this area for a community orchard.  Good news, twice weekly mini-sessions for volunteers at the garden are back on since the storms have abated. Weds and Sundays from 11-1pm. All welcome to come and help plant the first new baby apple trees which have arrived from Perthshire, thankyou to Plants with Purpose & Appletreeman

Please get in touch via our contacts page above if you haven’t been to the garden before and want to find out more. It can be a bit hard to find.

Or you could just pop along on our next Open Day and chat to other volunteers and tour Granton’s secret garden. Join up and volunteer to dig for victory, we need you!

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Hopes & reflections on our first year at the garden

Signs of spring are upon us already at the walled garden with buds swelling and catkins forming on the trees at the sheltered garden. January has passed quickly with many hands making light work of the weed clearance needed, whatever the weather, to begin planting the community orchard of our dreams!

Local volunteers getting started on the heritage orchard restoration in January

Exciting times ahead with recent news of a funding award from the National Lottery. A chance to begin this spring as we aim to go on creating a space to dream, learn and grow together.  Written in Film – Granton castle walled garden

We hope to begin with our first row or two of new fruit trees in the community orchard, where volunteers have been preparing the land for planting soon to benefit wildlife and people too.

“I have learned so much already just being here”  2018

Lots of lovely ideas for heritage varieties and modern ones too suitable for Scotland, organic growing methods and different uses for the fruit. Some more unusual edibles may be planted around the garden too, nothing is written in stone with our outline design plans as yet, we want people to keep adding ideas to the melting pot.  Granton Castle Orchard planning Overhead photo with overlay 2017 Nov KSIt has been an incredible first year with many inspirational moments and always the encouragement and energy of everyone who visits or volunteers their time at the secret garden. The transformation of the once neglected space has been aided by larger teams from the Lothians Conservation Volunteers & most recently the Dirty Weekenders,  helping tame the wilderness on the North terrace. Blitzing the weeds in the old orchard

Groups of all ages have enjoyed the ‘hidden gem’ tours of this unexpected historic garden and tales of its sometimes dramatic past. Keep up with our progress since May 2017, find out more by paying a visit to Granton’s lost castle garden this year. Next monthly Open Door tour this Saturday, 3rd Feb at noon. Get in touch via our contacts page if you have any questions or just come along, it’s free.


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New Year tours at Granton’s lost garden

Lots of ideas and plans for the new year and sharing the garden with more visitors already started on January 6th with our free drop-in monthly guided walks. The first Saturday of the month from noon until 2ish we hope can become a regular event over the spring. To let people of all ages explore and take part in the restoration of this heritage environment.

2018 January tour

Great enthusiasm and positive feedback from a walking group visiting for the first time Jan 2018!

We are now planning regular twice weekly mini-sessions over the coming months to continue work begun by our core group of volunteers during our first year in the garden. So many great ideas and local involvement to build on in 2018, planning the community orchard, kitchen garden and much more. Granton Castle Walled Garden, Dec 2017

We will be at the garden on a Wednesday and Sunday from 11-1pm, beginning on the 10th January. Wrap up warmly if you are coming along and wear sturdy boots or wellies, a big hat and gloves.

FGCG Worksessions flier 2018 Spring

Please be aware the garden restoration is still in its infancy, being ‘tamed’ a little at a time and not fully accessible. There aren’t any toilets or indoor heated space, quite a few hazards still and dirt paths which can get muddy.

All the best for 2018 and hope to see you at Granton’s lost castle garden this spring. Please get in touch via the contacts page if you would like to find out how to join in with volunteer sessions and haven’t been along before. Or you could drop-in and chat with members at our next free guided tour afternoon, Saturday 3rd Feb at noon. 

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Late-Medieval Walled Garden in the middle of Granton?

This secret walled garden has somehow survived for over 450 years, through wars and industrialisation, changing fashions in garden design and neglect. Mary Queen of Scots was a toddler when Granton Castle had to be rebuilt after ‘the Burning of Edinburgh’ by Henry VIII.

The Castle was demolished in the 1920’s after standing there since ~1544. Each owner through the centuries added to it, but eventually it was left as a ruin. The attached walled garden however was always useful, and was maintained with uses ranging from fruit and vegetable growing to more ornamental flower production and a pleasure garden in Victorian times.

Since 1914 it has been used as a market garden producing cut flowers and tender annuals. Now it is a little overgrown with an air of faded grandeur, but the remains of a Heritage Orchard are still productive.

“A delightful taEast Wall - trained fruit trees ngle of flowers, fruit trees and crumbling glasshouses”

A number of community members have fallen in love with this garden’s remarkable history and survival story. Late-medieval style walled gardens are very rare nationally, and it is a bit of a miracle to find one in the middle of the industrialised waterfront area in Granton.

We want to help restore and maintain this beautiful garden for future generations to enjoy!

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Midwinter in the garden

Magical moments caught on camera as our intrepid volunteers and visitors keep coming to the garden despite the frosty weather in December. Landmark events continue like the planting of the first handful of new fruit trees at the walled garden in decades, the best of old and new varieties of an ancient delicacy….the Damson.

delightful damsons

Some we grew earlier, at the nearby community garden in Muirhouse

Our experimental permaculture based approach to preparing the land for planting is in full swing with the first hugel beds being built. Using up the branches from tree saplings cleared from the ‘kitchen garden’ area earlier in the spring.

Hugel bed builders

Hugel bed builders

Birch, willow and ash branches have been used to weave a hurdle edge to the long raised beds for hedges of soft fruit, flowers and herbs in-between the veggies.

Over the summer and autumn the garden space has attracted a lot of creative interest from photographers, sculptors, dancers and filmmakers. Crossings and Intervals by Improvisation Collective The garden volunteers have enjoyed creating their own structures and embellishments too, with art and gardening naturally going hand in hand. A huge thankyou to photographer Ashey Erdman for capturing the essence of the walled garden this summer, people working, plants and the atmosphere during our first season. A link to our 2017 progress Granton Castle Walled Garden

Recently documentary filmmakers visited the garden and were entranced by the story of Granton’s ‘lost castle garden and the energy and enthusiasm of the Friends Group volunteers in taking on the restoration of this unexpected treasure. A massive thankyou to Trina and Kev for their hard work in making a film of our December work. Written in Film

The hardest question to answer was, “what has been most special at the garden this year”? Answer, too many things to write on this page, but a common theme has been the joy of sharing the surprise with first time visitors at finding such an unexpected living link to the past in a derelict area of Granton. Since January a diverse group of volunteers have spent hundreds of hours working to restore a tiny bit of the once magnificent 2 acre garden. Many visitors from different nationalities and lots of highlights to celebrate in our first year at the walled garden only possible because of continuous support and hard work from community volunteers, visitors, Friends Group members and associated groups.

Plans for the spring

Plans for winter and early spring work

The aim of creating a space to dream, learn and grow together seems to have been infectious and a leap of faith taken by many people working together to restore one area of the historic garden, showing the potential for the rest.

There is still so much left to save in this sleeping beauty garden” Nov 2017

Hope to see you in the New Year, when we are back at the garden on the 6th January for an informal gathering to welcome back the light, celebrate the achievements of 2017 and discuss plans for 2018. 



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October news and our 1st ever Door’s Open Day

The equinox has passed and the turn of the season can be felt at the garden with plants beginning to set seed and the bees, birds and butterflies feeding on the last of the summer flowers and fruits at the garden.

It has been a peaceful haven to work in over the summer with the backdrop of nesting birds in the ‘wild’ areas filling the air with their songs. Brightly coloured bullfinches & golfinches alongside song-thrushes using the old stone walls as anvils for bashing snail shells. A tawny owl or two seem to be in residence in the tall trees to the east of the garden, no doubt enjoying the wildlife as much as the volunteers and visitors.

guardian at the crossroads

Helga seated at the crossroads, where North and South meet in the garden

Our first ever Doors Open Day has come and gone, blessed with sunshiny mellow September weather and a gentle breeze. Lots of new visitors sharing the sense of surprise on entering the wee door to Granton’s lost Castle Garden. It is much larger than expected, a green jewel of history and archaeology on the edge of the Forth.

Impromptu additional tours for visitors on the 23rd were kindly hosted by our knowledgeable history and archaeology team members, to avoid disappointment for those that had turned up on the day not realising booking was essential. The deadly hemlock in restricted access areas of the garden was a talking point as were the historic photographs & maps, role of honour of summer volunteers and Improvisation Collective’s dancers, sculptors and filmmakers at work on the day.

What next for the autumn and winter?

Friends Group members and new volunteers have been as busy as the bees over August and September tackling all manner of weeds and sapling trees in a small central area of the garden in preparation for some autumn crops. scotsman.com/heritage/people-places/work-underway-to-revive-long-lost-medieval-garden-in-edinburgh

Pioneer species like birch felled in February have provided a lot of useful small timber to work with either for building gates, composting frames, plant supports, sculptures, rabbit-proof fencing posts and signage supports. Even the roots and rotting logs have been utilised in many different ways, especially in our stumpery garden shaded by the high stone dividing wall and perfect for our rescued native ferns.


Preparing the soil in the kitchen garden

  • We hope to continue working with volunteers and local groups on our cleared area in the North terrace, 1/4 of the proposed kitchen garden area: ideas to create linear hugel beds, hurdle fencing, edible hedging and autumn planting of heritage wheat from Scotland the Bread as part of the Soil to Slice initiative.
  • October clearance of the scrubby vegetation from the Heritage Orchard area proposed. – Lothian Conservation Volunteers to assist.

    Discovering the secret door in the wall


A celebratory ‘Gardeners’ Gathering’ is planned for Tuesday the 24th October at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Cottage. The event is free and open from 2-4pm in the ‘potting shed’. Members shall be demonstrating autumn berry cordials and jams inspired by the walled garden’s seasonal produce and a ‘taste of the past’ shared on the Doors Open Day. On display what we have done so far, plans for the future and ways to join in. 

Gardeners Gathering at botanics cottage 24th OctAlso present will be Improvisation Collective sharing their beautiful films and responses to the historic garden over the summer. Working together at the beginning of its restoration and how this helped to define their evolving performance and sculptural pieces for the Doors Open Day. Click on the link below to view a snapshot in time, the digitised version of a small booklet created this summer by a diverse group of resident artists.

Crossings and Intervals – IMP

Room for 20 seated and more if you are happy standing. Just come along if you want to find out more, get in touch via our contacts page or FB event

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