We had a great time contributing to the Royal Edinburgh Hospital Summer Fete, held on 19 August. As in previous years, our produce stall was very popular, and the rain held off for most of the event! There was also fantastic music, with flamenco provided by one of the hospital staff, inspiring jazz singing, and lots of customers for our fruit, veg, flowers and apple juice.
We have recently been working with Anna Canning and Nicky Brownrigg of Flora Medica to deliver sensory healing workshops on hospital wards, and one in the Growing Space at the Community Gardens. These have been very popular with patients and staff, who have made bath/shower treats, body creams and lip balms for herbs and other ingredients such as oatmeal. Some of the herbs are picked fresh in the hospital grounds on the day of the workshop. The project is part of our Recovery Pathways programme, which is bringing a taste of the gardens to the patients and staff, in order to encourage them to experience all that the community gardens and other green spaces at the hospital have to offer. These DIY remedies/body care products include ointment, balm, hand cream, body scrub, bath treats, cough linctus, toothpaste.
On Saturday 18 June Cyrenians Royal Edinburgh Community Gardens opened its gates as part of the Power of Food Festival, a celebration of 16 community gardens around Edinburgh. Over 200 people took part and had a great afternoon. Stalls included Breadshare, Bread Matters, our own produce and plant stalls, tombola, and plant your own herbal tea bag by Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace Trust. There were also sessions by Edinburgh Community Yoga, children’s activities including a bug hunt, mass participation games, storytelling and some great music! We made lots of good contacts and had a range of enquiries about volunteering.
We have been very busy sowing and planting our veg beds and new planters this month, and enjoying the warm sunny weather of late. We have been delighted to welcome large numbers of hospital patients, visitors and staff to the gardens on a daily basis. Nursing staff, patients and Occupational Therapists from Eden Ward have been planting up the raised beds in our All Ability Garden, and we have continued to work with Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace Trust to select and plant sensory plants in the planters they built for us recently. A number of staff and patients and people from the local community are also attending our Grow Outside session on a Monday, run by Lucy Holroyd our Green Learning Tutor. We have also grown a large number of bedding plants for the gardening team at the Western General Hospital, so if you up there soon, enjoy the displays!
Spring has sprung but in the gardens we’ve not only been nurturing plants, we’ve also being creating some new structures with wood. We welcomed volunteers from Marks and Spencer as part of Spark Something Good! to the Royal Edinburgh Community Gardens to create some beautiful new planters and signs for the garden. A big thanks to all the volunteers, Marks and Spencers and Greenspace Scotland for this project, and the funding to support it.
We’ve also been working with Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace Trust who have consulted with participants on the design of lovely new planters and seating and then built them, providing all the materials and dedicated staff time. along with our willow hurdles built by John Kyle of Willow Traders, will offer a quiet space for people to use. John also ran a workshop demonstrating how to build a hurdle, which was very popular! As you can see, hospital patients, staff and others are already making use of them.
Together we learned about tree identification in Winter, mythology and folklore of certain native species, and how to formatively prune and care for a young hedge.
Thanks to the hard work of everyone involved our hedge will thrive for another season.
Another group of hospital patients have been very busy taking part in an SVQ course at the gardens, including visits to the Royal Botanic Garden and Cyrenians Good Food project in Leith.
We’ve also been busy sowing seeds, and adding to our raised beds with a beautiful panel made recently!
Despite the changeable weather, we’ve been busy with a couple of events. At a Burns lunch for volunteers this month, we cooked our own neeps and tatties, and listened to Tam O Shanter, address to the Veggie Haggis and some great singing. A great way to spend time and take stock on a cold January day!
On a wet and wintery December evening, close to Christmas, the Royal Edinburgh Community gardens became a beacon of light in the hospital grounds. We opened our gates to patients, visitors and friends at dusk until dark, inviting them to take a walk around our illuminated trail, taking in the main sights of the garden along the way.
This month we have been busy welcoming patients and new volunteers on their roads to recovery.
We’ve had a great harvest of potatoes, parsnips, and greens alongside many other vegetables, as well as Christmas Wreaths and preparing for our Winter Lights event, which was well attended – our thanks to the young people and staff who led the organisation of this event.
We’ve juiced most of the apples that we harvested from the orchard. The juice along with a range of products from the Cyrenians Farm, are available at our Weekly Garden Gate sales held on a Friday between 11am and 3pm, using Vegware bags so thanks for that!
Many visitors came to know our garden this summer: our first full summer in our new space!
We’ve had patients, their families and staff enjoying the garden. We’ve had the help of corporate visitors from a range of financial institutions putting in work to create our new features:
- More vegetable beds
- A floral border
- Two evergreen hedges
- An all ability area known as the ‘Garden of Eden’
- A wildflower mound and bee haven
While the new hospital buildings go up around us the ‘Growing Space’ is developing!
Fruit and veg are once again growing well and so are our plans. The mood board above was one of many produced at the conclusion of concept and design workshops facilitated by the hospital’s Public Social Partnership Team. Staff, patients, volunteers and representatives from many organisations contributed. Progress on the ground in the gardens has focussed on temporary and experimental features.