2020 AGM and new website

Some news updates from the charity. 2020 AGM to be held on the 28th Feb, 2pm at Madelvic House. Granton Park Avenue, EH5 1HS.

A new website more suitable for mobile devices and tablets will be coming in the future so for now this is the last post from this page.

Please check the FB page for details of volunteer sessions, open days and events. https://www.facebook.com/GrantonCastleGarden/

A little blog recording the beginnings of a wee dyeplant garden, the first in Scotland for a long time. Natural colour made from plants growing locally, Madder the queen of dyes used since medieval times to make the colour red. was the first to be planted in 2019. This season woad and Japanese indigo to make blue, coreopsis and sawwort to make yellow and orange. https://madeingranton.design.blog/portfolio/midsummer-fire/

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Spring Sessions & Anything but Gardening

March has seen a transformation at the walled garden with ‘Castle Corner’ opened to the sunshine for the first time in over a decade. Scrub kept for nesting birds and bramble pickers too as paths and a clearing were made through the once dense scrub. Many thanks to the brilliant team from Lothians Conservation Volunteers

Anything but Gardening Friday afternoon & Saturday Open Day workshops are happening this April and May. Printmaker and bookbinder Cassandra Barron helping us to create bespoke artworks, inspired by the plants and materials found at the walled garden. The beautiful results of our first botanical stamp and label making workshops pictured above. These events are free and open to all ages, if you can let us know how many to expect by booking through the eventbrite link below it would be much appreciated https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/granton-castle-walled-garden-19091725084

The garden is ready to burst forth with wildlife and greenery as the spring equinox approaches. Catch up with the latest events and happenings on our Facebook Page or drop in for a tour and visit on the 6th April Saturday Open Day 12-2pm https://www.facebook.com/events/644289829358200/

Nettle dye making at the garden
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Frost & Fire to welcome back the sun

January has passed quickly with the deep freeze making the garden sparkle with a dusting of ice crystals and earth crisp underfoot some mornings as work continued with facilities like our new glasshouse installed.

Our lovingly created firepit using reclaimed bricks was lit to mark Imbolc and the lengthening daylight. It crackled into flame scented with lavender twigs and seasoned branches, driving out the cold and warming hands and hearts, with the fire providing a natural gathering point to blether and plan for the spring.

Exciting news is we have two new sessional workers thanks to community grant funding from Edinburgh City Council; helping to deliver some free ‘Anything but Gardening’ creative events and open days. Dates and details to follow soon so keep an eye out.

Extra Monday 1-3pm volunteer gardening sessions for ten weeks from February 18th, starting tomorrow! Our usual Sunday session from 11-1pm and Wednesday from 10-12pm. Huge thanks to Ashley Erdman for her photographic work helping us to document the impact of community volunteers already in 2019. https://ashleyerdman.xyz/2019/02/15/keeping-the-hearth-fires-burning/

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New Years Greetings from Granton’s Secret Garden

The Friends Group is excited to welcome visitors and volunteers to our first Open Door Day in 2019! If you feel like a wander ‘off the beaten track’ why not drop in to this hidden gem on the shore 5th January between 12 and 2pm. Secret Garden Open Saturday  

Past, present and future..of Granton’s lost castle garden… recordings from 2018

Mild winter weather and continued mini-sessions with keen volunteers have wrought more changes and expanding access to the whole 2 acre walled garden for the first time. Now with a view to Fife in the distance.

A view over the Forth emerging from the top of the garden

The New Year gives us time to look back on some of the highlights and achievements of 2018, reflect and plan ahead. A wee timeline of images below capturing the atmosphere and spirit of volunteers helping to restore this remarkable late medieval garden. Hope you enjoy reminiscing and visit us in 2019!  

Lots of volunteering opportunities to come in the New Year and an announcement or two from the group…good news! Get in touch at the new e-mail address grantongarden@gmail.com if you want to find out more.

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Bread and Roses from Granton

October has brought a mellow fruitfulness with burnished red and gold colouring the garden as rosehips ripen and leaves turn. Brambles give a last flourish and some late butterflies enjoy the shared haven and abundance of the walled garden.

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Quiet now except for the birds singing as we take stock after an unexpectedly busy Doors Open Day this September. Many thanks to the tireless volunteers who made it happen welcoming over 300 visitors from the local area and surrounds to the mysterious 2 acre garden, many finding it for the first time. A special mention and thanks to West Pilton Parklife, Social Bite’s new eco-village residents and staff for their support and practical help. Many hands made the busy pop-up cafe come to life in celebration of opening a new area in the walled garden to community use. A synergy of live music, good people sharing food and environmental art in the heritage setting made it a very special open day.

The end of September saw great progress made with clearance of invasive scrub from the South Terrace begun in earnest. Help from Edinburgh University students volunteering for the day was much appreciated, opening the ‘Doocot Walk’ to visitors alongside regular volunteers. An amazing team effort with thanks to Written in Film  and Ashley Erdman for documenting the latest progress in the restoration work.

Wednesdays and Sundays from 11am to 1pm, new and returning volunteers welcomed at the garden. Mini-sessions are set to continue over the next few months with some exciting plans and ideas for the garden gathered over the summer. Get in touch if you haven’t been to the garden before, or check out our ‘Volunteering at the Garden’ page for more details on the sorts of activities you could help with.

An amazing space” September 2018

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September News and Doors Open Day

Bumper harvests from the heritage orchard remnant this year were a great reward to those who worked so hard to clear invasive scrub last summer and autumn. Great feedback and much enjoyment from those picking luscious plums, apples and foraged brambles together.

Our first Saturday of the month ‘pick your own’ fruit and bring a picnic day was well attended with new visitors astonished by the size of the hidden garden and returners remarking on the transformation since their last visit.

The secluded 2 acre haven has been full of wildlife and people enjoying the space this summer, visits recently from Archaeology Scotland, Craigroyston Community High School and even a produce display at the Royal Botanic Garden Harvest festival for the first time.

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Our next event is in less than a week, as part of the Cockburn Association’s Edinburgh wide Door’s Open Day celebration. A link with details can be found here 29th September Granton Castle Garden

No booking necessary, free drop-in event from 12-4pm with a few surprises planned. All ages welcome, children under 16 please bring  responsible adult and note we have no toilets at the garden although there is some good news for the future. There will be some refreshments available at our pop-up cafe, music and  but please feel free to bring  picnic.

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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 by the Smith’s 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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