With gardeners from fifteen months to fifty-plus contributing to its entries at Edinburgh’s annual “Gardening Scotland” show, SRUC emphasises the role horticulture can play for all generations.
From show gardens to pallet gardens and landscapes dressed with chain saw sculptures, visitors to the Royal Highland Centre will see the many skills taught at the various college campuses and the passion shown by the students.
SRUC, or Scotland’s Rural College emerged in October last year from the merger of Barony, Elmwood and Oatridge Colleges with SAC. Once competitors at Gardening Scotland, these new “campuses” are all now part of the same institution, but are no less keen to show each other and the many visitors expected at Ingliston from Friday 31st May to Sunday 2nd June, just what can be achieved.
In the popular “Show Garden “ area will be designs from the Riverside (Ayr) and Edinburgh campuses, prepared by students following an HNC Course in Garden Design.
The Ayr team’s “Garden Designers Grotto” is a space for thinking and inspiration, with a comfortable bothy, surrounded by planting selected to spark ideas in a designer about shapes, colours and textures. Needless to say the difficult growing season has raised enormous problems for the group, led by Barry Small.
“Despite the pressure I have enjoyed every minute”, he says. “I can’t wait to get to the show and stand proud beside all our hard work”.
Colleagues and competitors will be the “coven” from SRUC’s Edinburgh Campus at Kings Buildings. Their design is inspired by the witches in Macbeth with overturned bubbling cauldrons and a mixture of good and evil plants that either poison or heal.
Designer Jenna Stuart and her team have had a hectic spring sourcing specimen plants, raising others and adapting their design to circumstances. Their design may suggest there is still evil in the land but the co operation they have received proves there is plenty of good will as well.
Students from Oatridge campus at Broxburn have been helping pupils from Broxburn and Fir Park schools prepare their Pallet Gardens for the show and will be assisting the event organisers in many ways. They will also be demonstrating landscaping on the British Association of Landscape Industries stand.
Meanwhile the collaborative display forming one of the entries from the SRUC Elmwood Campus in Cupar, follows the theme “Footprints to Success”. Contributing to it have been nursery groups, primary and secondary schools and further education students, all of whom work with the Elmwood Horticultural Department.
“We believe that horticulture is an activity that can be enjoyed by anyone, irrespective of age, academic or physical ability”, says Horticulture Programme Leader Stuart MacDonald. “We work with a diverse range of students, from nursery teachers to commercial nursery staff, promoting inclusion, equality and opportunity”.
Each of the pallet sized gardens in the exhibit is linked by footprints. The small ones are for the nursery children and get larger through the school years to the adult boot marks round the central display, designed and constructed by National Certificate of Horticulture students.
Celebrating our natural habitats and nature during this year of Natural Scotland is a show garden designed by Elmwood lecturer Sheila Filsell for the Garden for Life Forum. It can be found in the Living Garden area of the show, surrounded on 3 sides by the environmental groups which are part of the forum. The garden is funded by the Scottish Government.
“I have designed the garden to depict natural landscape rather than a wildflower garden,” comments Sheila, who comes from Coaltown of Balgonie. “There is coastal habitat, wetland, meadow, upland and woodland edge. The HNC Horticulture students I am working with have sourced Scottish native plants from throughout the country, including the rare Linnaea borealis (Twinflower) and Primula scotica (Scottish Primrose)– which only grow in the wild in a few sites in the North”.
However what has particularly excited Sheila is the stunning work by chainsaw sculptor Iain Chalmers of Culbockie in Ross-shire. His four creations representing a golden eagle, red squirrel, harbour seal and otter are joined in the landscape by a metal red deer, making up the Big 5 as selected by SNH.
SRUC Elmwood Campus offers a range of Horticultural programmes for introductory level to Higher National Certificate in Horticulture with excellent progression to degree level qualifications. The portfolio of courses includes, NC Introduction to Horticulture, NC Horticulture, HNC Horticulture, SVQ Level 2/3 Amenity Horticulture and SVQ Level 2 Production Horticulture.
The HNC in Garden Design course run by SRUC introduces students to the many facets of garden design from design to plant knowledge, hard landscaping and business studies. During the year students design gardens for real clients and develop hands-on horticultural knowledge. Some, with previous relevant experience go straight into designing gardens and setting up their own business, although they often come back to take more advanced HND modules while working! Students can also progress to the Garden & Greenspace Design BSc/BSc (Hons).
For further information contact Ken Rundle (Senior Communications Officer SRUC) on 0131 535 4196, Ken.Rundle@sruc.ac.uk. Or for Elmwood and ‘Footprints to Success’ contact Audrey Peebles at Audrey.Peebles@sruc.ac.uk or 01334 658956.
Caption: Last year's team and entry, Cornucopia.