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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Peek behind the walls of Granton’s lost Castle Garden.

This gallery contains 5 photos.

Long summer days in July have given the Friends Group volunteers the chance to really get stuck into the garden. We hope to have cleared and prepared 1/4 of an acre by the autumn, ready for a bit of planting … Continue reading

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Midsummer News from Granton’s lost Castle Garden

Our Friends Group were excited to sign an agreement with owners Waterfront Edinburgh Limited at the end of April giving the community access to the walled garden for the first time in over a decade.

Group photo 2017

Keys to the Garden Door 27th April 2017

May and June have been busy months with a whirlwind of activity and new visitors to North Edinburgh’s secret medieval garden. Everyone has shared the sense of surprise and wonder when they step through the little wooden door and wander inside the larger than expected hidden gem. It is 2 acres in size and mostly overgrown with tree saplings, brambles and other tenacious plants which can self seed and colonise fertile land if it is left to its own devices.


Getting started in a small patch in May: clearing tree roots for the ‘kitchen garden’ & stumpery

The garden is full of life, with lush vegetation everywhere compared to the dormant grey garden we viewed earlier this spring. ‘Birds Bees and Trees’ is the theme for this years Its Your Neighbourhood scheme by Keep Scotland Beautiful. Lots of birds currently nesting and singing their hearts out, flying constantly searching for food for their chicks. Best practice in managing habitats for wildlife and timing of works like clearance of scrub means most of the garden will remain overgrown for the rest of the summer, but great for birds! So far, wrens, goldfinches, blackbirds, songthrushes, chaffinches and a tawny owl. Lots of butterflies, bees and other critters too, beautiful flowers amongst the weeds like old roses and dames violet.

The walled garden is certainly off the beaten track but well worth a visit if you can find the little door: along a cycletrack hidden amongst the trees between the shore and the industrial landmark of the Granton Gasholder. new location map for the walled garden with cycletracks and FG door

Pleased get in touch if you haven’t visited before & would like to come along to one of our planned July and August Mini-sessions in the garden. Please note it isn’t quite open access as yet, with quite a few hazards and ongoing work on dangerous structures within the garden planned over the summer by the owners. Make sure you have read and signed the following. Visitor Induction form with health and safety warning

FGCG Worksessions flier July to August

The Friends Group hope to continue restoring one area to cultivation this season, showing the potential for the rest of the garden in the longer term. Great ideas bubbling away for sustainable uses and regeneration of the heritage environment. Lots of chances this summer to add your ideas and thoughts on Friends Group plans, explore and dream of what could be…Quote below from a recent visitor.

There is something very special about this garden

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Happy Easter and a chance to visit Granton Castle Garden

March was a busy month for the Friends Group with our second AGM held at North Edinburgh Arts, and outreach community gardening work flourishing in Pilton and Muirhouse. NEArts garden developing. Great to meet like-minded people keen to discuss local environmental issues and get involved. Inspiration from community led organisations like Granton Community Gardeners, regenerating greenspaces, growing more fruit, veggies, herbs and flowers around North Edinburgh.

Openspaces and Environment Planning Meeting

April has started with sunshine and Friends Group members are excited to announce the latest news: in the upcoming months Granton Castle Walled Garden is to be opened to small visitor groups and workparties (by invitation only at first). Developers EDI Group ltd have worked hard over the spring to make the walled garden safe and accessible to community members keen to get started inside. Our proposed Date of Entry is now the 27th April, fingers crossed.

Linda at the new door

Earlier this month we visited the garden site along with Historic Environment Scotland staff to chat about a few ideas and activities as part of Scotland’s Urban Past

Our ‘History’ branch are making plans for possible archaeological investigation, garden interpretation and ways we could raise awareness of this heritage environment.

Weekly gardening and environmental activities to involve local people and meetings to plan things at the walled garden are high on the agenda. Keep a look out for dates to follow soon!

Join in for free and help shape and restore this historic garden for future generations to enjoy.

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