Creativity, humour and green fingers in Girvan

Girvan Community Garden
By Fergus Walker

On the 28th of September, the Seed Truck took a trip to the south to visit a wonderful community garden in Girvan. We went there to run a workshop on the the healing powers of wild fruit trees, and the stories behind them – and we came back full of inspiration on how to use recycled materials to bring a community garden to life.

While we were there, Girvan Community Garden had organised a seed swap, with all sorts of herbs, flowers and vegetables, all from seed collected in the garden and round about. We joined in by opening up our Seed Kist, and as it was such a balmy sunny day, we brought out the mill bike too- and why not?

Stories and Remedies

This was the first workshop we have run where we combined herbalist Elspeth Killin’s knowledge of the medicinal powers of plants and Marie Louise’s (a.k.a. Mrs Mash the Storytelling Cook) talent for telling a good yarn. While Elspeth was showing the good people of Girvan how to make Elderberry Syrup, Bramble Oxymel and Apple and Bramble Butter, Mrs Mash was telling the tales of trees and foraging, some as old as the trees themselves – such as the search for Rowan berries in the tale of Diarmuid and Grainne from the hero tales of the Fenian Cycle (the famous Irish-Scottish tales of Fionn MacCumhail and his band of warriors)

Creative recycling

While we were there, we were very impressed by the level of quirky recycling and clever solutions at the garden. There was also a good sense of humour, with a TV and chest of drawers sprouting flowers – have a look at the photos!

After our the Seed Truck Summer Tour, when we were visiting all sorts of growing spaces across Scotland, the visit to Girvan Community Garden made me realise that it is a great example of the value that community gardens across the country have: they are often unique as communally owned outdoor spaces where people can work and spend time outdoors together, grow their own food, hang out in a cosy shed and make cups of tea, sit in the sun and chat, and most of all, use their creativity to build fun and innovative structures that perfectly suit their environment. It makes you realise that when people have access to their own bit of land, and some time and the means to build things, they do not need to go to a garden centre to buy unsustainable mass manufactured solutions. That is why everyone needs a community garden!

 

Here is the Secret Garden-like entrance to GIrvan Community Garden, with a path made from salvaged old pavement slabs.

Here is the Secret Garden-like entrance to GIrvan Community Garden, with a path made from salvaged old pavement slabs.

 

Here's Elspeth Killin demonstrating her Hedgerow remedies - here it is Elderberry Syrup

Here’s Elspeth Killin demonstrating her Hedgerow remedies – this time it is Elderberry Syrup

Elderberries picked by Julie from Girvan Community Garden

Elderberries picked by Julie from Girvan Community Garden

Elspeth Killin, medical herbalist, shows off her stylish elderberry hand dye

Elspeth Killin, medical herbalist, shows off her stylish elderberry hand dye

Mrs Mash entertains

Mrs Mash entertains

Mers Mash entertains again

Mrs Mash entertains again

There was quite an interested crowd at the seed swap - all seeds gathered at the community garden

There was quite an interested crowd at the seed swap – all seeds gathered at the community garden

Hand stamped seed packets

Hand stamped seed packets

Seed Head - I'm not sure what...

Seed Head – I’m not sure what…

Here's the Seed Kist in fromt of the greenhouse

Here’s the Seed Kist in front of the seed-swap greenhouse

I loved the chest of drawers and the home-made TV - a much better version of TV than usual!

I loved the chest of drawers and the home-made TV – a much better version of TV than usual!

The flowers look comfy! Fancy a nice cup of succulent tea anyone?

The flowers look comfy! Fancy a nice cup of succulent tea anyone?

I was very tken with this clever design. A local Girvan man builds these using an old whisky barrel base then hand made window-frames with perspex.

I was very taken with this clever design. A local Girvan man builds these using an old whisky barrel base then hand made window-frames with perspex.

 

Another view of the Girvan Garden Lighthouse (not the official name...)

Another view of the Girvan Garden Lighthouse (not the official name…)

This is a beautiful bit of upcycling - an old cable reel has had a mosaic put on top of it ot make a stunning garden coffee table

This is a beautiful bit of upcycling – an old cable reel has had a mosaic put on top of it ot make a stunning garden coffee table

This was one of several clever uses of pallets - a vertical growing space made out of an old pallet. Jim at the garden (the originator of many of the innovations) says it needs an inbuilt watering system to take care of it dring out in hot weather.

This was one of several clever uses of pallets – a vertical growing space made out of an old pallet. Jim at the garden (the originator of many of the innovations) says it needs an inbuilt watering system to take care of it dring out in hot weather.

A pallet bug hotel - 5 star biodiversity lodgings

A pallet bug hotel – 5 star biodiversity lodgings

Delicious tomatoes for sale at their garden shop. Currently this is just a table they put out when they are open, but they are about to build a shop and workshop shed.

Delicious tomatoes for sale at their garden shop. Currently this is just a table they put out when they are open, but they are about to build a shop and workshop shed.

I thought these were very fun - growing succulent plants (that survive with little water or soil) in teacups are like something striaght out of a Lewis Carrol tale!

I thought these were very fun – growing succulent plants (that survive with little water or soil) in teacups are like something striaght out of a Lewis Carrol tale!

Even an old window blind was chopped up and made into plant labels

Even an old window blind was chopped up and made into plant labels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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