what's on april-may18


Our Garden Hero

This year the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens has been running a campaign called  ‘Local Heroes’ as part of their Growing Together (GT) project. The aim is to get more people actively supporting city farms, community gardens and other community growing projects by celebrating the work of unsung heroes volunteering or working in these projects.
The volunteers in the garden have voted and our Local Hero is Brian Matthews!  Brian is the longest running volunteer at Ninewells Community Garden, having been involved for around 5 years.  He is a popular presence in the garden, with time for everyone. No matter what the weather, Brian volunteers 3-4 times a week – feeding the birds, developing new areas of the garden and doing a lot of the dull, but important parts of gardening that make such a difference, but often go unnoticed. His humour, creativity and kindness are appreciated by all and he is a great inspiration and support to many of our group – it’s fair to say that the garden just would not be the same without him.
Thanks for all your hard work Brian – and here’s to the next 5 years!

Digging Through the Past

A charity metal detecting dig was organised recently on Sunday 17 September 2017, to help raise money through donations for the Ninewells Community Garden by volunteer David Drummond, with permission kindly given by farmer Michael Arbuckle to use a couple of large stubble fields for a day’s metal detecting to take place on.

This was achieved just outside Dundee at the Star Inn fruit farm.

Fifty metal detectorists came along on the day and right from the off finds came to light through the searching of the fields – the fields were situated near the site of an ancient Roman Camp at Invergowrie and there had been an abundance of later histories in the area that included the tales of Highwaymen who would hold up stagecoaches from woods that once stood near the fields.

Finds on the day included a Gold Sovereign dated 1861, loads of other coins and tokens dating back to the 1700’s, lead flax seals from the time when Jute was King in Dundee, and buttons and military badges, among notable finds was an old Dundee Police Button and a Dundee Farthing Token from 1798.

A large bronze bell that might date back to medieval times called a Crotal Bell and giant lead weights one of which might be Roman.

The whole day was a terrific success and everyone attending thoroughly enjoyed themselves, there was teas and coffees and biscuits provided by the Ninewells Community Garden that went down a treat with the detectorists and being manned by Trustee Rodney Mountain but in between time he also managed to have ago metal detecting himself with his daughter for the very first time and were rewarded in finding their first old penny.

Donations given by the metal detectorists attending amounted to £406.82 for Ninewells Community Garden and its safe to say the folks at the garden are quite delighted with this.

And there will be another Dig scheduled to happen again next year.


Co-design workshop and volunteer awards

We had a great session last week where we were exploring possible future directions for the garden – as well as looking at the obstacles we face.

There were no shortage of ideas!  Everyone had the chance to suggest new activities or features, which we grouped into different themes (see below).  We then spent some time with the 3 themes which had the most interest, working in groups to understand how they might be progressed (underlined themes).  If you are interested in getting involved with any of the ideas, or have an idea or comment of your own, please do get in touch.

After the workshop we awarded the first batch of our volunteer certificates – volunteer time amounted to around 2500 hours last year!  The garden wouldn’t exist without our wonderful volunteers – everything from planning to sowing; polytunnel building to bird feeding… This time, effort and creativity enables so many people to enjoy the garden when they visit – so thank you.

Water: wildlife pond, water fountain, wishing well
Communication: website, research into benefits of therapeutic gardening
Themed gardens: Japanese, continents garden, desert garden
Wildlife: bird hide, wildlife pond, more bee habitats (honey and bumble), animal corner
Garden features: pizza oven, time capsule, weather station, barbecue area, bike rack, low maze
Garden development: pear trees, snowdrops, expanding the garden, another polytunnel, own plots, more summer fruit
Skills and activities: more teaching sessions, bread making, preserves, beginners lessons in gardening, kite making, tai chi and yoga, photography club, cups of tea for visitors, cooking skills
Sales / enterprise: more veg for sale, shop for produce and crafts, growing food for hospital, create a cookbook, herbal calendar
People: more patients to visit the garden, day trips for volunteers, corporate volunteering for big jobs

Access: From hospital – no proper door or path, lack of signage, car parking, better awareness
Funding: sustainability, secure future
Facilities: lack of toilet, water and electricity
Health and safety: security, hygiene, safety, steps to leaf room, better wheelchair paths
Capacity: more volunteers, staff, more space for new features

A ‘patient’ volunteer – Fran Gillespie

When I was admitted to Ninewells Hospital last October I was fortunate enough to be given a bed beside a window with a magnificent view – not only overlooking a wide silvery stretch of the Tay estuary but also some acres of mature woodland and an intriguing-looking garden. “Designed by the Beechgrove Garden team,” I was told by one of the nurses. As an ambulant patient I was allowed out once the day’s treatment was complete, and, rather like Alice in Wonderland, how to get into the garden became my ambition.  I lost no time in heading for the garden, where I was told that anyone who wished to could lend a hand. And so I was introduced to Sarah and volunteered for gardening duties.

Being in hospital is a strange experience, so unlike one’s normal everyday life as to seem almost divorced from reality. The privilege of being able to do everyday jobs like weeding, dead-heading, sweeping leaves, cutting back plants for their long winter hibernation, really helped to keep me sane!  Even getting one’s hands dirty was a pleasure, as a break from the super-sterilised life on the ward.  “Next time I’m admitted to Ninewells I’ll be sure to bring my wellies with me,” I joked. The Community Garden, with its wide range of herbs, flowers, fruit bushes and vegetables, is a marvellous place in which to be and I spent as much time there as I could and also enjoyed daily walks in The Arboretum. Although I had to laugh on the day when I’d escaped to the garden both in the morning and the afternoon and a nurse came by my bed in the evening to give me an injection, “To stop blood-clotting, because you’ve been lying in bed all day.”

220px-archibald_menzies_1754-1842By the way, all you fellow gardeners, with the support of the Clan Menzies I’m currently raising funds to restore the sadly neglected grave in a London cemetery of Archibald Menzies, one of the great 18th century Scottish plant collectors. Think Monkey-puzzle tree, Noble and Douglas firs, Sitka spruce, Western Red Cedar – we owe not only these economically valuable trees but also the astonishing number of more than one hundred flowering garden plants to the efforts of that globe-trotting Scotsman. He deserves to be suitably commemorated. Please take a look at the clan website and if you’d like to send a donation you can press the Donate button and send an email to the clan treasurer [address beside the button] making clear that your donation is for the Archibald Menzies Memorial Fund, or send a cheque to The Treasurer, The Clan Menzies Society. Castle Menzies, Weem, Aberfeldy, PH15 2LL.



Upcoming events

Tuesday 31st January 11am: planning a grass-free lawn.  We are hoping to give our orchard area a makeover by planting a low maintenance herbal lawn under the trees.  Come along to an initial meeting to find out more and share ideas for suitable plants – for more information  All welcome, booking essential by emailing

Sunday 12th February 10am-12pm: Bird Watching in the Garden. Join Brian, our resident bird watcher to observe our feathered garden visitors. Please wrap up warmly. You may like to bring a camera, binoculars and a flask of something warm to drink.  All welcome, no booking required.

Thursday 16th February 2pm: Mosaic installation. Dundee Urban Orchard have given our mosaic it’s final touches.  Come along to see it being installed and find out more about upcoming mosaic and craft sessions.  All welcome, no booking required.

Thursday 23rd February 1-4pm: Co-design session and volunteer awards.  We’ll be working together to develop a vision for the garden.  How do we see the garden and charity develop?  What are the opportunities and challenges?  This workshop will take approximately 2 hours, after which we’ll have some refreshments and present our volunteers with their much deserved certificates!  All welcome, no booking required, please bring food or drink to share if you are able.

Volunteer Day Saturday March 25th 10am-3pm. Seasonal gardening tasks AND learn how to dowse for water with David Drummond – lets find those 9 wells!  All welcome; booking required if you would like to attend the dowsing workshop by emailing