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.

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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.

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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.
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    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.

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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.

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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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Dreams of a ‘Heritage Gateway’ to the Waterfront in Granton

September was a busy month for the Friends Group preparing for a presentation to the owners of Granton Castle’s historic garden. We had a small gathering and press-release of the Friends Group plans on the 5th of October. Nourish Scotland tweet

Ideas proposed by local people to restore the B-listed walled garden were opened for discussion earlier this year, Survey Monkey Questionnaire. The results were really positive and comments constructive, so we began the design process with help from a local landscape architect taking on board everyone’s suggestions. We hope this could be the start of something very special; community management of a heritage asset to benefit people, the environment and the local economy. Living Landscapes

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How the garden could look if restored and opened to community use – graphic design by Ellie Clarke

Our Friends Group has had great support and encouragement from owners EDI Group ltd and architects 7N in drawing together community ideas for the walled garden which could be incorporated into the new Masterplan for Granton’s shoreline. We hope to cherish and tend to this historic garden, sheltered, fertile and ideally suited to growing the best of old and new varieties in Scotland’s sometimes harsh climate.

The community plans (pictured below) were presented on the 5th of October to EDI’s senior management team: as an alternative to housing within Granton’s secret garden.

How the ideas could fit into the walled garden.

How the growing ideas could fit into the walled garden, regenerating the land for everyone to enjoy

Ways to join in this autumn.

  • Community Gardens. Although the walled garden is still closed there are some great community growing initiatives in North Edinburgh, with regular drop-in gardening days. Granton Community Gardeners and Pilton Community Gardeners.
  • Scotland’s Urban Past: 29th November, 1pm-4ish. A field archaeology training day with expert tuition from Historic Environment Scotland staff. Mapping the historic footprint of Granton’s Lost Castle, are there any traces?

Please get in touch if you would like to attend this training event, it is free but numbers are limited to 20. Last autumn we learned loads from the archaeologists about the ancient walls themselves, piecing together stories, historic maps and images. Any findings on the walled garden will be added to the digital National Record being compiled by HES. Granton Castle Record

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How old are the walls of the old castle garden beside Caroline  Park House? 1500’s -1600’s with a minor extension ~ early 1900’s.

The Friends Group has had an offer of funding to help make the garden accessible again, with improvements to the footpath and cycletrack leading to the shore at Royston Beach. We wait eagerly to hear from the owners following our meeting on the 5th October. Will post news soon if an agreement can be reached, and when people can visit the garden!

Our next Friends Group meeting will be at the beginning of November when we hope to have news from the owners of the garden about its future. Please get in touch for more details if you would like to attend and haven’t before.

e-mail : grantoncastlegardengroup@gmail.com

Friends Group Plans for the walled garden will be displayed for comment in the Community Shop, 57 Pennywell Road, EH4 4TY from the start of November. Please let us know what you think of the ideas, or add more! 

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Community Plans for the Garden – almost 700 sign council petition!

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Meeting with MSP Andy Wightman outside Granton’s ‘secret’ garden

The Friends Group were overjoyed by news that we have reached the target number of signatures needed for a hearing at the city chambers. Thankyou to everyone who signed and shared ‘Save Granton Castle Walled Garden’, we got to 694 in the end. Council Petition Page

What now?

On Thursday the 8th Sept three of our members will attend the Petitions Committee meeting at the city chambers: to plead the case for protection of the lost castle’s late-medieval walled garden from unnecessary development.

Dreams and Ideas for the garden’s restoration: raising awareness

Friends Group Draft Plans were drawn up to help developers understand our ideas, and show how the garden could be retained in the new Masterplan for Granton’s Waterfront.

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Members have been busy over August with another article published ‘Last Days of Granton Castle’ in Scottish Local History, meetings with architects and developers to convey the community aspirations for regeneration of the historic garden. We feel its potential for health and wellbeing benefits are great, being ideally placed on the waterfront to form a green jewel in the network of openspaces and wildlife corridors essential to healthy living in North Edinburgh.

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Hidden Gems of North Edinburgh health walk

A big thankyou to all the supporters and members working hard to safeguard a little piece of paradise and Scotland’s history for future generations to enjoy. Our draft plans for the gardens restoration and supporting documents are to be presented to the owners Waterfront Edinburgh Limited on the 5th October, as will repeated plans for housing… Waterfront Edinburgh Limited’s senior management team will then decide on the future use of the walled garden in their upcoming outline planning application.

Housing Development or Openspace?  Fertile land to grow food sustainably is incredibly rare on the waterfront’s industrialised area, making the historic environment of the B-listed walled garden even more precious. A great example of good land stewardship and regeneration of neglected greenspaces is being set locally by associate group Granton Community Gardeners. Social inclusion, civic pride, increased biodiversity, skillsharing and simple joy can be the outcomes of community growing, not just a bag of tatties.

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Small copper butterfly on golden marjoram

Get in touch if you want to join the Friends Group, attend monthly meetings or even do a bit of gardening.

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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 Hendry 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!

Contact grantoncastlegardengroup@gmail.com

 

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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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Meeting Notes 2016

Our Friends Group meets monthly in North Edinburgh. Our last public meeting at Royston Wardieburn Community Centre generated some interesting ideas, and lots of enthusiasm and support from outside organisations too.

Get in touch if you want to come along – grantoncastlegardengroup@gmail.com

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21st Nov letter from EDI to MSP Andy Wightman

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Community Plans presented to the developers on 5th October

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Community council supporting letter -of-wg-petition-7-9-16 and coverage in local press of petition hearing Edinburgh Reporter article

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Drawing up our plans

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botanics cottage meeting 4 28th June

June meet at Botanic Cottage

Friends Group Committee Meeting 28th June

19th May Friends Group Public Meeting approved

Friends Group meeting April 28th 2016

Feb 18th Friends Group meeting notes

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Sketch of new steps and wheelchair accessible footpath proposal

29th Jan 2016 Friends Group meeting with Lesley Hinds

Jan 21st 2016 Friends Group Meeting notes

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The garden from above in October 2015 – a bit overgrown!

Meeting notes from 2015, our first AGM and earlier meetings are available too, under the archive category ‘Meetings notes & Discussions’.

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Space to Grow, Learn and Dream

Winter has brought together people ready to make a start in Granton Castle Walled Garden, tending to it and bringing it back to life this spring. Over the last three years many of us have planned what we could do in the garden based on hopes and dreams, a shared love of the history and potential of this ‘secret’ garden.

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Some of the Friends Group Members outside of the garden

Last week we received word from the owners, they are to proceed with making a new doorway into the walled garden and a temporary licence agreement with the Friends Group. This means we could start hosting activities and small group visits as soon as April 2017! 

Help our community group get growing in 2017 by supporting our crowdfunding campaign to raise £10,000 for essentials needed to begin work. Read more about our proposals for 2017. Share and donate if you can at, Space to Grow, Learn and Dream 

170211_cowdfunder_poster_1Every £1 raised will go towards involving community members in reshaping the neglected historic garden to benefit people, the environment and wildlife. 

This appeal has been aided by Greenspace Scotland who support MyPark Scotland and fundraising undertaken to help manage and improve urban greenspaces. Some help people grow too,  MyPark Projects

Our next public event is an exhibition at North Edinburgh Arts beginning on the 20th February: to display our garden plans for the two acre walled garden and share photos of community growing around Forth Ward’s regenerated openspaces. We will be under the heading Community Food Growing and Sharing.  North Edinburgh Arts community plot

Friends Group February meeting date tba, new local venue. March 11th AGM where everyone will have a chance to join in, ask questions and add ideas.

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Good News for 2017!

The New Year has brought welcome news to the Friends Group members, and our first visit to the walled garden since 2013. A small supervised group entered at the start of January to assess the garden’s condition, report back to the committee and begin planning some activities for the spring and summer.

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January sunshine in the garden

EDI Group ltd have continued to meet and discuss options for the listed garden with the Friends Group throughout December and January. The garden hasn’t changed much in terms of its condition since 2013 but the company are now undertaking repairs to make the garden safe and accessible in the near future. A bird’s eye view of the garden

The first step is to put in a new door! Last November the Friends Group undertook some survey work with Historic Environment Scotland and it’s one of original doorways in the West wall, beside the doocot, which is to be re-opened soon to allow visits and work to begin inside.

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17th century doocot repairs underway

Today our Friends Group will have its first formal meeting of the year, to make some plans for the future of the walled garden and the group itself. Lots to do but we have good support and advice from EDI and other expert organisations to help take things forward.

Meeting notes from our emergency gathering  a couple of weeks ago and draft agenda for tonight’s meeting can be viewed if you click on the following links. As ever please get in touch if you would like to attend and haven’t before. Our second AGM is in the planning, more members are welcome and everyone’s opinion on our plans so far.

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