For many years the site of the former petrol station close to the attractive harbour area in Avoch had remained unused and had become an eyesore, attracting fly-tipping, weeds etc. Following discussions between Mike Armitage, Vice–Chair of Avoch and Killen Community Council and the owners of the site, Pencon Productions Ltd, they agreed to let the Avoch and Killen Community Council make use of the land and generously agreed to fund the clearing of the site in order to regenerate it into a Community Garden for the benefit of the residents and visitors. Work began in early 2016 to clear the site of all the unsightly waste, topsoil was donated by Tulloch Construction Company and transported using GF Job Ltd vehicles, the area was then landscaped by Aardvark Contracting Ltd. ready for planting. Munro’s Nurseries in Bogallen very generously donated trees and shrubs which were the first to be planted by volunteers. By now, passersby had become very curious as to what was going on and before we knew it, people were very kindly donating plants and their time to enhance the garden. A sturdy picnic bench was donated and erected on the site once the gravel had been spread and then another picnic bench was donated. The garden started to fill up with a variety of lovely trees, shrubs and plants, some well known and some quite exotic, but happy to grow in the shelter of Avoch bay located in the temperate climate of the Black Isle. The planting scheme provides year round colour and interest as well as a haven for wildlife such as birds and insects. The variety of plants, trees and shrubs will be low maintenance once established and are being maintained by local volunteers who are very proud of the garden. A compost bin ensures that all waste generated in the garden is utilised to regenerate the soil and provide excellent growing conditions as the garden matures. The benches provide facilities for al fresco dining and litter bins are emptied very frequently to ensure the area is kept tidy. The garden is well placed to attract visitors passing on the A832 and has good car parking and access to (seasonal) public toilets next to Avoch Harbour and within the listed Dock area.
Everyone involved deserves a huge thank you The garden is a beautiful place in which to relax and enjoy the surroundings and it is all through the efforts of local residents and businesses working together. It is hoped that not just the local residents can have this pleasure but also the many visitors to the area. Many compliments are being received, including a visit from David Stewart MSP to the new garden during his recent visit to the village. It was suggested a mosaic could be erected on the site, complementing other mosaics in Avoch and on the Black Isle created under the guidance of Sally Purdy, a local multi-media artist specialising in mosaics. A local fisherman offered to fund this idea if the theme of the mosaic would reflect Avoch’s fishing heritage including the valuable role played by women in the fishing industry which is often overlooked. Sally designed the mosaic with AKCC members and the local Friendship Club in Avoch along with other local residents are creating the mosaic which will be completed and installed in early March 2017. The garden is further enhanced by an interpretation project. The idea and design originated from AKCC members and is in keeping with the village’s strong fishing heritage. The installation comprises of the prow of a boat in red sandstone, sitting on a compass rose of Caithness slate. It overlooks the Moray Firth with views all the way from Avoch Harbour through to Ormond Castle. It has been skilfully crafted by Jack and Patience Building Contractors, commissioned by the AKCC and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Postcode Local Trust and the Ward Discretionary Fund. AKCC are extremely grateful to the Avoch Harbour Trust who gave their permission to install the structure on their land. It will display four new interpretation panels detailing the history of Avoch Harbour (designed by Thomas Telford); Avoch village and fishing heritage; the archaeological and historically significant Ormond Castle and local wild life, including the important Common Tern breeding rafts in the Bay. The panels are due to be completed and installed by January 2017. All the work has been carried out by local companies and volunteers. This area around the harbour in the heart of the village is the perfect place for locals and day visitors to absorb the fascinating history of Avoch whilst surrounded by the tranquil and beautiful views overlooking the Moray Firth. We did not encounter many difficulties because all involved were so keen to see the garden transformed from an eyesore to a thing of beauty and residents have all collaborated to achieve this, even visitors to the area have contributed by providing plants and encouragement.