The Edinburgh Civic Trust laid on a day where gardens not usually open to the public threw their gates open, and I organised a cycle tour around a few of the sites. Starting at 60 South Clerk Street with some volunteers from Sustrans — the sustainable transport charity we met members of the public at the Mound and cycled to the botanical gardens. From there, we had a leisurely ride around the North Edinburgh cycle routes to a community back green in Dalry.
60 South Clerk Street
Built in 1870, these tenement flats were allocated generous land at the back. Since 1992 the residents have developed them so that each flat has a semi-private area surrounded by perennial borders, and each area has paths and stepping stones to join up with the rest to form a large communal garden. One area has chickens, another has a firepit, and there’s a smashing shed with a sofa. There’s also a paved area where they were providing refreshments.
In the tenement itself, there’s an A3 bit of paper with the flowering times for each of the plants, and I noticed lots of fragrant plants. Fantastic at midday in May, this will undoubtedly be a magic garden in the evening during Summer.
The tenement next door never had a dividing wall, and recently they’ve started to develop the gardens to merge with number 60. You can see a chicken in the foreground!
19 people on the bike ride from the Mound to the Botanics. I thought it might take longer to do, so when we got to the botanics most people were up for a longer ride (we lost 4). We took a leisurely ride back along the disused railway paths that make up the North Edinburgh cycle paths, stopped for a quick snack near Roseburn, and then made our way round to Dalry Road.
This project is part of the community backgreen initiative and is managed by the Green Caretakers. They’ve got funding as part of the community composting schemes, and put in a communal composter. On the back of this, 7 tenements’ gardens have been merged into one (they’re individually smaller than the 60 South Clerk Street patch, but collectively they’re bigger). 10 fruit trees and scores of fruit bushes have been put in the area and it’s been planned as a forest agriculture/edible landscape. Much to learn about this; too much for a small post.
I can’t find any links to a Green Caretakers website, but there seems to be many such groups. Crafty green Poet links to Re:solution, and The Edinburgh Evening News has an article on them, as does the Scotsman.