Gardening Scotland 2009

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by Julie Kilpatrick

Now in its 10th year, Gardening Scotland is the must-see event for gardeners north of the border. After the Royal Horticultural Society dropped its Scottish show, Scotland's national gardening show was taken over by its current organisers, Rural Projects and its thanks to them that Scotland's gardening industry still has a national show to call its own.

I don't know the true reason why the RHS pulled out but perhaps they were put off by Scotland's changeable weather and its true to say that, in the past, the weather has put a bit of a dampener on things. Not so this year. The sun shone on Gardening Scotland's 10th anniversary show and the organisers once again did themselves proud. However, brilliant as it was to see the sun shine and the people turn out to support this show, there was one low point.

Disappointing outdoor show gardens

Once again, the outdoor show gardens were disappointing. There just wasn't enough of them and I'm afraid to say that this section of the showground didn't hold my attention for very long.

I'd like to see a lot more show gardens in the future but I know that it's an expensive business - not just in monetary terms but in the time and effort required.

Gardening charity Perennial's gold medal winning garden (pictured left) did make people smile and it was beautfully planted out as was Var Scotica's gold medal winning 'Neep Hut'.

Thank goodness for the Scottish education system!

Okay so that's the low point out the way. The rest of Gardening Scotland 2009 was all highs and it was particularly nice to see Scotland's colleges and schools come up with such good, creative work.

Gold medal for Borders College

A well-deserved gold medal and 'Best New Show Garden' went to Borders College's 'Credit Munch' garden. I knew I was going to like this garden when I read the spec and I wasn't disappointed. The garden was just really well put together. The construction was good and, more importantly all the plants bar the fruit trees were grown from seed by the college itself. To get all the plants in the right condition in time for the show must have taken a tremendous amount of effort, not to mention good horticultural skills. Materials for the garden's structure were donated using freecycle along with offerings from Border College staff members and local businesses so the garden becomes even more impressive when you discover that the total build cost was just 200.

You can read more about Borders College and see pictures of the show garden as it's being built on the Borders College Horticultural Students Blog.

I particularly liked the hexagonal greenhouse built from window frames and topped with the ballcock from a cistern.

SAC Ayr's garden design students go wild

Another college garden that was really well put together was SAC Ayr's 'Go Wild' garden. It successfully managed to marry a very clean contemporary look with woodland wildflowers. Because you normally expect to see something like a hot tub surrounded by expensive architectural plants, it's one of those clever things that shouldn't work but actually does.

The bench surrounding a firepit was built by the students to match the Norwegian soaking tub and the woodland wildflower planting scheme was created by sowing a wildflower mix and planting perennial plugs into boxes, shaped to fit the design.

Also in the college's section, we had SAC Edinburgh's 'Whiskey Galore' garden and Barony College's 'Baronial Burns'.

I think it's a shame to stick the colleges out of the way in their own little section and I'd like to see them beef up the main outdoor show garden section instead.

Pallet Gardens

More imaginative offerings came in the form of the hugely popular pallet gardens. These miniature gardens, each one the size of a pallet were built by Scottish nursery, primary, secondary and special needs schools. Hosted by the Scottish Gardener's Forum, SGF members also took part. Each of these tiny gardens would not have been out of place in the show gardens section had they been built in larger size and there were just too many really good ones to go into detail about each one so here's some pictures of my favourites:

Ratho Primary
The Ugly Bug Ball

Lilybank Biodiversity Team
Bumblebee Heaven

Green Routes
Green Roots to Work

Bridgend Allotment Community Health Project

If you want to know more about entering a pallet garden for gardening Scotland, you can email Jim Dickson at

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