Dr Neil's Garden
Old Church Lane
Duddingston Village
Edinburgh, EH15 3PX

E: Info@DrNeilsGarden.co.uk
T: 07849 187 995
(Opening with restricted days and hours from 7th July due to COVID-19)

Gardeners Blog

Update April 2016

Since the last update we have two new Volunteers, Graeme and Nicolette.

We have also made links with a group from the Milan Organisation, which is a group of day-care centres for Retired Asian Women. They have been in for a guided walk which they enjoyed and will come back in the summer for a picnic.

Most of the conifers have been clipped over and 15 tons of compost has been spread over borders as mulch for the year. That is 5 of our own and 10 tons bought in, of which 5 tons was free (as a community garden) through the council recycling green Cornus Nuttaliwaste scheme.

The Azaleas and Rhododendron have all been fed, the roses fed and pruned, the Cornus cut back too.

We have received our lovely new solid Oak,  two seater bench. It is on the bank at the top of Howards End.

There has been some new with the donation of a small ornamental tree,  Cornus Nuttali “Eddies White Wonder” and the planned donation of a bench that will go at the back of the Physic Garden.

The nursery has been sorted out for the season and we are just in the process of potting on all the plants that need a bit more room in their pots. Lots of seed has been sown.

The Perennial Vegetable garden is re-emerging from its winter dormancy, it’s been weeded,  mulched and the chicken-wire fencing re-erected to protect it from the rabbits.narcissus

All the narcissus are flowering and the garden is a picture just now.

That’s about it folks!

Here we go into the season.




Update March 2016

A volunteer has started to work on a short film for our use, so watch this space. It’ll also be used for Grant Applications.

Work on a newsletter is also underway.

All the borders in the garden have been cut back and tidied, this is a repeating process due to all the storms we have had. The trees have all faired well, losing only smaller branches in a few cases.crocuses

We received 5 tons of free council compost (this is our quota for the year), however, this is nowhere near enough for the entire garden. Luckily we are able to produce 8 – 10 tons of our own, but nonetheless we could still use another 3 – 4 tons seeing as many borders as possible are mulched.

The Volunteers have coped very well over the winter and are looking forward to the spring.

We had a lot of rain over the winter and the loch has just started to recede. The Reeds are mostly cut and cleared, with one wee patch still to do.

The Perennial Garden in the Glebe is cut back, mulched, re-fenced and now ready to go into production again.white iris

The builder also helped to build a lovely wee wall with steps into it for a bench, behind the Physic Garden. All we need now is a bench to be donated.

The Narcissus and Dwarf iris that we planted in the autumn are flowering beautifully in the scree. The Crocus have been hammered by the 5 Pheasants in the garden, to my intense irritation.  I have had to put wire baskets over them to try and protect them, slightly spoiling the effect!

Lots on as we go into spring next up another bonfire to burn, Newsletter to complete, rabbit guards to go around all their favourite nibbles, sweet peas to grow on, Sweet Williams to plant out etc. etc. etc.


Update January 2016

11th November

Last visit of the year from the “Good Wood” Team. This group have become regular users of the garden. The team enjoy the garden and feel they are able to make a positive contribution. We spent the day clearing up leaves, a seasonal job that we all enjoyed and with their help we were able to make a serious impression on the deluge.

17th November

This week also saw the arrival of the spring bulb order … 4000 bulbs! A mixture of Narcissus, Alliums, Dwarf Iris and Crocus to be planted in the Scree, Peat Beds, Tower Border and down the banking towards the Tower. Planting bulbs along with clearing leaves and collecting Moss and green material for the Wreath making Workshops will be the main jobs for the next week or two.

5th/6th December

Wreath making Workshops went off very well. wreath making workshop 2016

I always get so very anxious about this event … will we have enough moss, string, wire etc?

The following week 5 Volunteers made wreaths and I got Dr. Jack a Christmas Tree for Duddingston Kirk.

We also gained a new Volunteer called Jack. A lovely young man who is in the middle of his Doctorate … but needs some time outdoors.

On this subject, our lovely Volunteer Lizzie has now qualified and is very busy working as a 1st Year Doctor, on rotation through hospital departments throughout Edinburgh and the Lothians. Lizzie pops in for some fresh air and gardening whenever she gets the chance.

14th December

Because the weather was still so mild, and as a change to lifting the still falling leaves, we got on with the cutting back this week … seems a very odd thing to do just before Christmas but it’s nice to see some clarity in the garden.

David and Jack cleared the stem of the large golden Lawsons behind the Golden Border….that changed the view….amazing. I cannot wait for summer, we will be able to see the border from all sides now.

29th / 30th Dec

Suddenly there are Aconites coming up through the soil! And the Hellebores have buds, Iris Unguicularis has its first flower, the Winter Cherry is beginning to flower and the Viburnum Bodnantense is now really flowering at full tilt. It’s in these dark midwinter days that any scent or colour is the most cheering.

Dec 30th

Was in fact the day of ‘Storm Frank’! I spent the day raking up debris, but had the joy of a ‘will o the wisp’ dancing in a puddle beside the corner of the Tower. Never seen anything like it before and I was enchanted.

Week of January 5th 2016

Still clearing up in the garden … planting donated shrubs. George our lovely Canadian Volunteer who left to go to a full time gardening post in Perthshire came in for a visit this week. Lovely to see him and to hear that he is getting on.

We also had a new volunteer, Lorna begin with us. Lorna used to volunteer with me when I worked up in the Community Vegetable Garden, so it is lovely to catch up with her again.

11th January

Another new Volunteer, Michael started with us this week. He is a young American undergraduate studying at Edinburgh University. He came along after looking up “things to do” on Trip Advisor.

Seemingly we have ‘outstanding reviews’ on Trip Advisor … It may explain why we have so many foreign visitors, from all over the world.

15th January

bonfireAn unbelievably cold and frosty day, the ground was frozen solid. At last winter temperatures make their entrance. It was so cold I was wondering what I could possibly do with 6 volunteers … it was a perfect day for a bonfire!

We managed to cut up and burn all of the accumulated garden arisings, including the two huge heaps of brash from the conifer I cut down and the left overs from the wreath making workshops. We also had sausages. This is becoming a tradition on bonfire days … 1st day sausage dogs. 2nd day … potatoes baked in the hot ash. Nothing better and enjoyed by all


April Showers

ChurchI love this month in the garden. It is full of glorious woodlanders; bulbs, herbaceous perennials, shrubs and trees that live in and on the margins of woodland; Cornus nuttali, Magnolia, Epimedium, Trillium, Erythronium, Primula, Pulmonaria and Omphaloides.

The Cornus nuttali has been super this year, with more flowers than ever. We have been watching the flowers develop slowly over the winter months with a huge sense of anticipation and we were not disappointed. It is always a delight to see the delicate flowers of Epimedium surrounded by there bronzy, heart shaped leaves. Another favourite is Erythronium californicum, ‘White Beauty’, always a delight, delicate and magical; seeming to float in semi–shade. There were other delights; Fritillaria, Camellia, Cherry blossom, Narcissus.

The Volunteers worked hard all month, laying 13 tons of grey whinchip topping up the paths and steps. It was the last big ‘winter job’ and has made such a difference to the look of the garden.

What a month it was though. It started off cold, windy and march – like, no surprises there. It improved and got up into the high teens towards the end of the month and everything seemed wonderful; blossom, bees, butterflies and blue skies. The garden had picnicking families one day and sunbathing beauties the next, folk were sitting on benches and snoozing in the sun, I even took off my thermal leggings! All was lovely……. and then it got cold again, diving from the high teens, right back down to -1, morning frosts, sleet and snow.

Still, lets look forward to the glories of June; Lily of the Valley, Bearded Iris and Roses.

March; ‘In like a Lion, out like a Lamb’

BonfireWell true enough, it started out pretty cold and grey, it still feels chilly, but its not so grey!

We have had slightly warmer days. Buds are breaking, a few early bees are buzzing and there are definitely more visitors in the garden.

So much has been done in the garden over the winter. The Volunteers have tirelessly cut and dragged reeds, barrowed 10 tons of grey whinchip for the paths, weeded and cut back borders, raked and swept and removed moss from the paths and lastly we have had a couple of magnificent bonfires! I am constantly moved and impressed by the resolute dedication of the volunteers, on days when I am feeling like the winter will never end, they pitch up smiling and enthusiastic and very quickly we are hard at it….and then all of a sudden, it is lunchtime and a difference has been made, the wind has dropped and the sun has come out.

Now the garden is truly waking up, birds are nesting, bird feeders need constant replenishing and colour is spreading through the garden. Here are some photos to give you a taster,

Even better, Come in and see for yourself!

Claudia (Gardener)

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