Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Jupiter Artland

There's treasure hidden away in a West Lothian woodland. There's a rather special garden called Jupiter Artland.

Having made a fortune in the family business, a couple bought Bonnington House. They've turned the grounds into a sculpture park with works from some of Britain's leading artists.

There's pieces from Andy Goldsworthy, Charles Jencks and Anthony Gormley amongst others. Also, bees! Even the cafe's worth a look: a shining metal 1952 Silver Streak Clipper caravan.

The place opened to the public in May and by all accounts is fantastic.

It's also a labour of love: only a hundred people are allowed in at a time and it's only open three days a week. The couple behind it have admitted they'll never come close to making their money back.

It's open 10 - 4 Friday to Saturday until the end of August. Admission is five pounds each and it's essential to let them know you're coming.

The garden is easily found by car, or by taking the First Bus 27 to Wilkieston and walking the last half a mile.

Well, we should go! Who else fancies taking a day off the gardening to have a nosey?

Monday, 29 June 2009

Sun 28th June - A hard day's work well done!!

We had another fantastic if exhausting day's work yesterday at Porty Town Hall and more new faces than you could shake a large tree stump at!! (Though we did try) 5 new faces! We carried on from all the hard graft from previous weekends of digging up more tree stumps.

Please welcome new faces Caroline, Michelle (Mickey) and Ansley (Ans). Caroline hails from Leith and whilst by her own admission, a total novice, certainly isn't afraid of hard work! Michelle and Ans hail from Port Seton and have quite a bit of gardening experience. Most folk will recognise Tom in the background (couldn't miss a photo opportunity eh Tom?) who is a regular guerrilla gardener.

The 3 of them took on a pretty mammoth task of digging up one of the biggest stumps on the plot. They were certainly pleased when the beast was tamed! They were helped out by another new member who arrived, Cathy who lives at Mountcastle nr Porty High School.

Me, Tom and another new face, Dawn, took on a slightly smaller beast to tame, but were just as pleased when we finally got the thing uprooted! Dawn also hails from Leith and is another novice but really got stuck in - I think she was joking about using semtex in future!

I think the photos show just how much clearing we managed to do in a few hours yesterday and it was fantastic to have so many new folk turn up to help out.

Our next work days are as follows:
Sat 4th July, 2-5pm
Wed 8th July, 12.30 - 3.30pm (along with volunteers from the Rock Trust)
Sat 11th July, 2-5pm
Sun 12th July, 2-5pm
Sun 19th July, 2-5pm
Sun 26th July, 2-5pm

Tom is currently busy looking into different funding sources and it looks very hopeful that we will be able to secure some money for this project. I'm busy drafting up a design for the garden which I'll e-mail round to everyone soon as I want as much creative input from folk into this as possible! Work is progressing well, so a big thank you to everyone who has been helping out.

Thea's Elderflower Cordial

As promised, here is the recipe for Thea's Elderflower Cordial (inspired by Self Sufficientish):

  • 20 of the most fragrant elderflower heads from the Water of Leith Walkway
  • 1 sliced lemon
  • 2 tsp of citric acid (Edina Home Brew will sort you out)
  • 1.5 kg (3.5 lbs) of sugar
  • 1.2 ltr (2.5 pints) boiling water


  1. Boil a kettle for the water.
  2. Fill a bowl or small bucket with all the other ingredients.
  3. Pour the water over the other ingredients and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Skin the surface of the water to get rid of the scum that can arise. Cover with a pillow case.
  4. Stir twice a day for five days.
  5. Strain though a pillowcloth and decant into sterile screw topped bottles. Refrigerate.
  6. Dilute with 5 parts water to serve to guerrilla gardeners.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Portobello: Summer Solstice Spectactular!

We had a really exhilarating day at the Portobello Town Hall site. If you weren't there, here's what you missed:

After weeks of clearing vegetation, today we started uprooting some of the weeds from what will be the growing space.

We were delighted to be joined by Emma who had heard about us on the Guerrilla Gardening website and came along to join in the fun.

As the sun shone, we all stopped for a well-deserved break and a cup of Thea's elderflower cordial (recipe here); humous and breadsticks, wunderbar seedy biscuits, scrummy chocolate cake and of course our beloved Nakd bars. We chatted about 'greenwashing', apron strings, ladybirds and greenhouses. It was a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

It was just as well we had an energy boost as it took all of us to remove the remains of an old root system which did not want to be dug up. (Think of The Enormous Turnip story and you have an idea of what we were battling.)

Davy, from Pedal, the local climate change group, also stopped by and loaned us a saw. (If you haven't joined Pedal yet, you can download the 'Ordinary'/Portobello residents form here; or Associate membership form here. Membership is only £1 and is necessary to work at the Porty site.

Finally, we filled a dumped loo with soil and planted it up with some of the wild strawberries which grow in abundance on the site.

A tiring but fun day, fab food and new friends. Please join us for the next work-in on Sunday 28th June from 2.00 p.m. You will be most welcome!

Friday, 12 June 2009

Stop Press: Rebel Tomatoes Hit Porty!!

No, it's not a 1950's B-movie... but if you fancy becoming a rebel tomato for a few hours, days or months, these are the next work days for our community growing space at Porty Town Hall.

Wed 17th June 2009 at 12noon till 3pm Joining us will be some volunteers from the Rock Trust who work with vulnerable young people.

Sun 21st June 2009 from 2pm. We will be gardening hard as normal but as this is the summer solstice please bring
along some food and drink to share and let's party like

Sun 28th June 2009 from 2pm

Please wear sensible old clothing, gardening gloves and bring tools such as forks, spades, loppers, rakes etc if you have 'em!

All aspiring rebel tomatoes very welcome!

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Porty: Four Days of Hard Labour

On the last Saturday in May, while sensible people had gone to the beach, our chain gang were starting the first of four clearing weekends at the Porty site.

As previously reported, the site at the rear of Portobello Town Hall is as large as it is overgrown - i.e. very.

We set to work clearing the site to see exactly what we are working with. We removed a lot of ivy but left the patches of honesty and feverfew in situ for the time being. The buddleia provides some welcome shade and is enjoyed by birds and butterflies so survived the cull (although will need to be cut back at some point).

It was really nice to have some new faces join us, some as a result of signing up with Landshare. (Lots of people were very keen to have a wee 'allotment' - but are a bit overwhelmed at the amount of work required before that is possible!)

As the Town Hall is a working building, we soon made friends with Council workers, caterers, wedding guests and of course residents in the neighbour houses.

Highlights of the week included:
  • Discovering a wasps nest (you should have seen us run)
  • Getting support from the locals
  • Being given drinks by wedding guests
  • Recruiting new volunteers ('Join us and get Nakd in the long grass' is a very effective slogan).
It has been hard work but seeing the results of our efforts has been great. It's been pleasant too with a real social vibe about the place as volunteers were rewarded with yummy Nakd bars to keep their strength up. The odd apple pie bar certainly helped smooth relations with the security staff to the point that we can now fill our watering can in the building. A fight broke out between Sarah and Jason over the last coco loco but they calmed down on being threatened with the naughty nettle step. Thank you to Natural Balance Foods for their continued support.

As work progressed, we could begin to see the possibilities. We toiled away with thoughts of wildflower meadows, treehouses, raised herb beds, picnic tables, al fresco film screenings, outdoor art exhibitions, orchards, community cooking, clay bread ovens, wedding receptions, sensory gardens, Nakd gardening...

With such a good-sized site, once cleared, there is scope for a multitude of uses - we would love to hear your ideas....but we would especially like your HELP!!!!!!

We want to have a really big push at this site on Sunday 21st June - Summer Solstice/Father's Day/Nakd Appreciation Day. Please join us.
Bring food to share,
bring tools (if you have them),
bring a friend (if you don't have one, we can supply these).
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Friday, 5 June 2009

Porty: the challenge, in pictures

Nature gone wild, wasps nests, dumped material.

Tree-mendous potential....
But where to begin?

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Monday, 1 June 2009

Sunflowers - One month later...

It is one month since we planted Russian Giant seeds around Prestonpans. I'm pleased to report that the seeds are now flourishing seedlings.

We paid the Preston Road site a visit today and did battle with the weeds, got stung by nettles and extracted lots of crisp packets from the tree cages.

A woman walking her boxer dog remarked on their progress and some passengers on the X5 looked on encouragingly - children are a great decoy when guerrilla gardening!

On the way home we spotted an 'accidental sunflower' growing at the edge of the road. The householder gave us some funny looks when we stopped to take photographs of it!

p.s. Any Panners reading this - help watering and weeding Prestonpans sunflower sites would be most welcome!