The project being put forward is a community garden situated in South Queensferry called Hawthorn Bank Walled Garden. The site, owned by Edinburgh City Council, stands just off the High Street and had been a derelict children’s playpark for over twenty years.
In February 2015 the registered charity, Greenferry Trust, headed by Juliette Lee, held a community engagement day to discuss potential use of the site. Most of the discussion centered around a local children’s nursery, Tom Thumb, having only concrete on which to play as there were no green spaces within the heart of our town. Consequently, support for a community garden was overwhelming. Funding was secured from the lottery, local businesses and individuals throughout the project – around £28,000.00 in total.
Initial plans for contractor estimates were drawn up in June 2015 and the community parks officer, Douglas Cruikshank, granted permission to start applications for funding for phase 1 which involved removing tarmac, metalwork and concrete and levelling and turfing the front part of the garden. MW Groundworks were awarded the contract in April 2016 with completion the following month. This allowed the front half to be used by the nursery and the local community.
The phase 2 preliminary design from Edinburgh Council was drawn up in 2017 and this was again won by MW Groundworks. Work started in July 2018 and comprised of the construction of a stage and two planting beds along with a raised bed and a path running from the gate to a high viewing platform. Following an interruption because of a crumbling limestone wall, necessitating the closure of the garden and urgent repairs by Edinburgh council, work finally finished in September.
Since we had the structure of a garden, but no plants we invited the community for a soft opening ‘Tea in the Park’ asking for any plants to be donated. Consequently, we received enough plants to start our community planted beds. Subsequently, throughout 2018/19 the community donated the majority of plants currently in the garden with other plants coming from Edinburgh council and the Botanics. In December 2019 we obtained a grant which enabled us to plant an edible hedge of red and black currents and gooseberries between eight apple trees. We also planted three pear trees.
In early 2019 community artists Mike Spring and Gary Smith approached us with a view to housing a thirteen metre mosaic mural which had been made by over 100 local people some twelve years previously. They had spent ten years looking for a suitable site and were about to give up when we suggested they could use our back wall. Various members of the community helped Mike prepare the panels by waterproofing and mounting them on scaffolding boards. This project took around six months to complete and involved a scaffolding construction along with precision engineering.
The garden was officially opened in August 2019 with a large garden party which involved speeches, a piper, tea and home baking provided by local people. A truly joyous occasion.
Supporting StatementThe garden has been widely used by the community and has welcomed many visitors, both locally and abroad. It is very versatile with a large grassy area for play and events coupled with a beautiful planting area and a tranquil viewing seated platform with stunning views across the Forth. Most of the garden, apart from the platforms, is wheelchair friendly.
We have held many events including Christmas carols by lamplight, children’s parties with bouncy castles, a small concert by Queensferry High School and a wedding. We have also been visited by CBBC’s ‘Lets go for a walk’ filming crew for a programme due to go out in Spring 2021. The garden has attracted various artists, mainly drawing and painting and it boasts a small staging area which has been used by travelling musicians.
Octopus Energy donated ten trees which were planted by a team of community volunteers and a local councillor, Norman Work. The local Beaver’s built an eco-brick planter in our alcove using plastic bottles stuffed with non-recyclable plastic waste bound together with straw and mud. The alcove also houses our recent addition of six raised beds which have been adopted by local groups including the Women’s Institute and the Tom Thumb nursery, along with local residents mainly living in flats without gardens. We hope to replace the flooring at a later date.
The garden has a team of twelve volunteers who regularly maintain it on a rota basis. Queensferry Planting, which also comes under the umbrella of Greenferry Trust, although primarily concerned with providing and maintaining planters around the High Street and other areas of the town also helps to maintain the garden.
Tom Thumb nursery were coming into the garden to play about twice a week. However, since COVID-19 they have been instructed by the education department to be outside as much as possible. Consequently, the children are in the garden every day and all day for structured activities as well as free play time. We have also allowed them to erect a small portable gazebo for rainy days.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has curtailed most of our planned events. However, the garden continues to be used by those requiring a quiet, tranquil place and the mosaic continues to attract visitors from near and far.
By transforming this derelict space, we have managed over the years to create a beautiful and stunning community garden which is accessible and used by everyone.