Saughton Park has a long and interesting history and much of that history has had links with The Caley. In the 1980s The Caley had a very active relationship with the Winter Garden, having made a significant contribution to its refurbishment. We continued to hold many events on site including plants sales, well remembered and missed by many local residents. But the link goes back even further, as a former President of The Caley, John Wilson McHattie the creator (along with James Ritchie) of the flower clock in Princes Street Gardens, was responsible for transforming the park after the Scottish National Exhibition in 1908. In 1910 he recorded that:
The Park is now complete… The area enclosed by the old garden walls has been laid out in an ornamental manner. It includes a Rosary, American Garden, Rock Garden and Sweet Pea garden.
The park today
More recently The Caley has been working in partnership with The City of Edinburgh Council on the restoration of the park. Thanks to a successful Heritage Lottery bid, this project will allow the Caley to have a permanent office base within the park, with active teaching and demonstration gardens.
Unfortunately, not all of the elements on the Caley’s wish list are included in the lottery funded element – for example a Caley glasshouse and potting shed, so we have much more work to do. The Caley’s aspiration to have a demonstration garden is not new. Since 1809 the focus of the Society has been to share knowledge and skills and to give advice on the best varieties of fruit, vegetables and flowers to grow in Scotland.
Here is the latest news update on Saughton Park. There is still a lot to do, but the park is starting to look fantastic.
The construction phase of the project is progressing well with the landscape contractors scheduled for completion by the end of August 2018 and the building work to finish at the end of November.
Some areas of the park will re-open to the public on 3 September with the remaining areas to open in early December.
3 September – areas outside of the Walled Garden will re-open, including:
- The new Playground for All, a fully inclusive and accessible playground with paths and equipment which will accommodate wheelchair users and those with restricted mobility.
- All of the new and newly restored paths including the Main Drive, the Balgreen Road path, the Stevenson Drive path all of which have new LED lighting. Other new paths include the Water of Leith route with its new viewpoint at the Weir. There is now new seating placed all over the park.
- The new Balgreen Road car park and part of the West Car park.
- All of the new entrances to the park including the restored Exhibition Bridge.
- The Outdoor Gym.
- The roller hockey and basketball rink.
See next section for areas opening in December 2018.
Early December – everything inside of the Walled Garden due to re-open including:
- The Winter Garden which has been completely re-engineered and landscaped with exciting new displays featuring plants from the Americas, South Africa and the Himalayas and the Atlantic Islands.
- The Courtyard with the restored stable block which will house the Caley Office.
- The Bothy, a base for volunteers and community groups to use, which has a kitchen and a wood burning stove.
- The Bandstand – the original Lion Foundry model No.23 Bandstand is back, fully restored to its original glorious beauty.
- The new café – it is hoped that the café will open to the public in the new year.
- The redeveloped Rose Gardens with their new pergolas, restored sundial, seats and wealth of new roses and other complimentary planting, The Friends of Saughton Park’s new Scottish Physic Garden, The Caley’s Demonstration Garden, The Bandstand Garden with its lawns and prairie planting and the Royal Promenade which was created for the 1908 Scottish National Exhibition is now one of the largest and most spectacular herbaceous borders in the City.
Both the Caley and FoSP are taking very active roles in the planting and future maintenance of various areas within the park including the new Winter Border, Physic Garden and Community Orchards.
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