Highlights of 2023

22 December 2023

Highlights of 2023

Now that we have reached the Winter Solstice, the turning point of the year, it is good to look back on the past twelve months from the comfort of a warm, cosy armchair. We had six weeks of drought in May and June, weeks of rain in February, August and October, snow, high winds, scorching sun and bitter frosts, but despite it all, the flowers and vegetables grew strong and tall thanks to the garden team who work hard, with laughter a necessary element of the ‘job’.

The year began in March with potatoes and the popular ‘Tatties in a Bag’ scheme, now into its fourth year, funded by ‘Good Food for All’. Sixty families were given a potato growing kit consisting of a special potato-growing bag, some ‘Charlotte’ seed potatoes, enough compost to start off and step-by-step instructions on how to grow this delicious vegetable .

Fortunately, in April, some students from St. Modan’s High School helped out one afternoon per week, planting two beds of potatoes and quite a lot of vegetable seeds for us.

Older young adults planting potatoes
Drummond

April’s high point was the arrival of ‘Drummond’, a feral stray about three years old, from the local Cat Rescue. He has settled in beautifully and can be seen prowling around the cottage woodland, sunbathing on his favourite, secluded slope or hunting for voles in the longer grass of our outer fields. Voles eat our strawberries and other produce in the vegetable beds and polytunnels, so Drummond is helping the Buzzards and Barn Owls reduce this population. He is naturally curious although wary and has also developed a taste for pieces of left-over chicken, too regularly provided by garden volunteers!

Drumond the cat
Visitors and Visiting 

We were visited by some of the garden volunteers from the Japanese Garden at Dollar and took up their offer of a reciprocal visit in May, which was really interesting. If you haven’t been to see this garden, you are missing a real treat. It is a unique example of an authentic Japanese garden, at one time considered the finest in the West, set in the foothills of the Ochils and the cakes are scrumptious! Our garden is a very different experience as we have a formal layout growing mostly vegetables and flowers, whilst their garden is ornamental and predominantly shades of green foliage. 

Forging a future food-growth Strategy

In May we hosted a food growing conference for Forth Environment Link. This brought together food producers across Scotland and beyond for a day of talks, demonstrations, tours, discussions and planning, forging a future food-growing strategy for Scotland. As it was a sunny day, the delegates were able to have lunch outside in our Courtyard.

Food future
Glen and Robin

Glen and Robin, American tourists from Washington, USA, turned up towards the end of their holiday, just before the July wedding, offering to do some volunteer work for us. They were soon allocated to painting our garden benches on the only dry day that week and saved the day – a huge thanks to them.

To adult 's standing next to a bench
September

Later, in September, we hosted the AGM of the Scottish Garden Landscape History Group.

Once their meeting was over, we gave them a house tour and a light lunch. In the afternoon, Christopher Dingwall, a renowned garden historian, helped to deliver the garden tour, imparting some fascinating information about the history of gardens. We hope to open the gardens to the public next year so his knowledge will be passed on.

Wallunteers

 Willie Mc Ewen and ‘The Wallunteers” spent the Summer rebuilding a collapsed section of the East Wall and continuing the repointing work. The result looks fantastic, and we will be creating a border along the wall so that we can plant more heritage apple trees there. By late September, a major project was completed when 70 tons, or more, of gravel and sand, was shifted manually by a combined team of garden and maintenance volunteers to finish off the path surfaces in the main garden: a very concentrated burst of work that saw the paths completed within a fortnight.

Paths
Food Donations

In addition to all the above events, the day-to-day, tireless efforts of the garden team has provided in excess of two metric tons of fruit and vegetables for the Ladies of the Rock food bank, Park Drive Nursery and our own volunteers with some of the produce growing to giant sizes. A massive thank you to all these people who put their whole hearts into creating our garden.

2024 and beyond

There is much to be done in 2024, so if you want some fresh air, good company and a bit of exercise then why not come along and join in. You will be most welcome.

Volunteers and Veg
Written by Margaret.
Margaret is the Head gardener and leads the Gardening team.

 

Catherine Bradley.<br />

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