Feel-good gardening

Edinburgh Libraries continue to bring awareness of diversity and inclusion in the public arena by teaming up with Trellis for Mental Health Awareness Week whose theme this year is nature. Trellis the place to go for know-how about therapeutic gardening and the art of using gardening to help people take care of their physical, emotional and social well being. To get to know more about Trellis visit: www.trellisscotland.org.uk    

Today, we hand over to Trellis to tell us how to connect with nature.

“You probably know that feeling that comes when you’ve been in a garden for a little while: a subtle slowing of your heart rate, a moment when you notice all is quiet inside your head – the anxious, irritated thoughts from earlier, now gone, and your breathing, fallen into an even, easy rhythm. You may find you’ve lost track of time, the knot in your shoulders has loosened up. These are the feel-good effects offered by gardens or parks, for free, any time you care to wander out and let them have a few minutes to do their thing.

Trellis is the charity that promotes and supports therapeutic gardening all across Scotland. That means harnessing these feel-good effects and deliberately using them to help people feel better and improve their quality of life. Gardening is used to help people manage or recover from depression, stroke or trauma. It can be a way to build strength after an accident and a step towards getting back into work. Garden programmes help people build confidence, gain qualifications and surprise themselves and others with their achievements. They help people stay fit or manage chronic pain. No matter the circumstances, we offer guidance on adapting gardening so its benefits are within reach for everyone.

Therapeutic gardening with Trellis

Did you know just being near a plant can reduce your blood pressure, slow your heart rate and decrease feelings of pain, stress and fear? There are some fascinating Japanese and Korean studies that have measured such changes taking place, though the precise mechanisms remain somewhat mysterious. We don’t know quite how gardening works its magic on us, simply that it does.

Therapeutic gardening with Trellis

Gardens restore us in so many ways, coaxing us into a better mood or getting us moving when we don’t feel like it, or, when a beautiful blossom opens, gently distracting us from nagging worries. It’s no wonder then, that each week skilled practitioners at 480 therapeutic gardening projects harness these benefits, helping over 12,000 people feel better. For Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, why not try out the feel-good effects of gardening for yourself with some easy tips coming your way.

  • Lots of people can relate to the idea of gardening being therapeutic, but there’s lots more to find out about the amazing therapeutic gardening projects quietly tending corners of neighbourhoods across the country.
    What is a Therapeutic Garden?
  • A tender and tasty treat that is easy to grow and perfectly suited to our cool northern climate, why not try your hand at raising a crop of broad beans this year?
    How to Grow Broad Beans
  • Everyone loves a fairy tale – and you can create your own beautiful, enchanted world in a small corner, even if you don’t have an outdoor space.
    Fairy Gardens
  • Peas are possibly the nation’s favourite vegetable and easy-peasy to grow, producing a feast for the eyes as a bonus with their gorgeous, scented flowers. They’re the perfect take away food – no washing or preparation required.
    Early Peas
  • Watching wildlife from your window or doorstep is a great way to switch off for a moment and allow your mind some breathing space. Here’s a cheap and simple way to welcome the birds to your place.
    Cheery Cheerio Ring Bird Feeder

Green fingers at Oxgangs Library

For the past year here at Oxgangs Library we have been working hard to improve the green spaces around the library. This has been done with the help of the community, especially the local children who have played a pivotal role in getting things done!

Initially the kids seemed unsure, can gardening really be that exciting? Well it turns out… it can!

Our first project involved planting some lovely pollinator friendly bulbs at the front of the library, these were a mix of snowdrops, crocus and snakes head fritillary. Although the local earthworm population might be a bit disgruntled, it turns out they have played a key role in getting the kids involved. Who can find the biggest earthworm providing all the motivation needed to get stuck in do some digging.

We then set our sights on bigger goals! Our attention was brought to the wonderful Free Trees scheme by the Woodland Trust, so we decided to apply for a hedging pack. This provided us with a whopping 36 trees, including Dogrose, Dogwood, Crab Apple, Hawthorn and Hazel! These arrived mid-November and were successfully planted once the ground had thawed, again with the kids providing a helping hand.

Box of saplings from the Woodland Trust

We are looking forward to these maturing over the next couple of years. Not only will our new hedge provide food and shelter for local wildlife, it will also provide a nice outdoor space were the community can feel closer to, and learn about, nature.

If you would like free trees from the woodland trust scheme, please find more details here https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/plant-trees/schools-and-communities/


Buzzing about books…in the garden

Staff at Blackhall Library are looking at ways to open the library’s garden space up for readers and community groups to use. It’s a lovely space to sit and read, you can even bring your own picnic!

However, it needs a bit of TLC and we are asking local people to give a helping hand. We are starting a Gardening Volunteer Group on Saturday 23nd June from 10:30 to 11:30am, and fortnightly thereafter. So please bring gardening gloves if you have them, we’ll supply the tools and a cuppa too. Contact Sean or Heather for more details 0131 529 5595 blackhall.library@edinburgh.gov.uk

On the reading front we have a Book Group Gathering in the garden on Saturday 14th July. From 11am-noon we’ll have a discussion about ‘Elinor Oliphant is completely fine’ by Gail Honeyman. The book group chat is open to everyone, you don’t have to be in a group. Then from noon-1pm you can bring a picnic along with you and have lunch in the garden. Contact Carol for more info at  carol.marr@edinburgh.gov.uk

We’ve got other events organised over the summer too including a Teddy Bears Picnic, so please check out our Facebook Page.


Can you dig it?

With the sun shining and long summer evenings ahead, we thought we’d share some pictures on Capital Collections of  Warriston Allotments, one of Edinburgh’s many community green spaces. Gardener and school librarian, Carol, invited us into her allotment to find out about her spare time spent in this hidden oasis in the city.

Here Carol explains what the allotment means to her:

I’ve been a plot holder for over 15 years. For me it’s always been more than the science of vegetable growing. Although I cannot deny a real sense of personal satisfaction from digging, planting, tending, weeding, and just waiting for your produce to bloom.

Each plot has its own personality, some functional in purpose, while others are more esoteric in their outlook. These vary from brightly coloured floral displays to random garden objects, including a mishmash of cobbled together sheds and greenhouses.

The allotments are also about the importance of community, especially the people and the sharing of their horticultural highs and lows. It’s also about the sharing of rural space in an urban landscape, much more than a simple plot.

Inspired? View more pictures from Carol’s allotment at Warriston on Capital Collections.



A calendar of flowers

It may be thought perhaps the Winter months are void of the delights expected in a flower garden; but the mistake will soon be discovered by any curious observer, when he shall find, that there are at least two and thirty flowers of different kinds then in their splendour.

So wrote the author in ‘The Flower Garden Display’d’ volume of 1732.


This vibrant display shows January’s blooms. The following months’ illustrations can be seen in our latest Capital Collections exhibition. The flowers from each month’s bouquet are identified to help the budding horticulturist.