Apr 032015

JimMcCollWith thanks to Michael Jamieson.

Disability charity Momentum Skills has announced details of their next fundraising event.
Beechgrove Garden presenters Jim McColl and Carole Baxter will be answering questions at a Gardener’s Question Time on Wednesday 29th April in the Inverurie Town Hall at 7.30pm. Joining Jim (pictured) and Carole on the panel will be locally based horticultural advisor and soft fruit specialist, Colin Stirling.

The evening will be hosted by STV news presenter Chris Harvey. They have all given their time in supporting this, the very first Gardener’s Question Time in aid of Momentum Skills.

Momentum is a leading not-for-profit organisation providing rehabilitation, training and care services for disabled and socially excluded people in Aberdeen and North East at their Centre in Migvie House, Aberdeen.

They empower people to gain the skills and confidence they need to live independently and to fulfil employment goals. Momentum’s services help a wide range of people, including those with a brain injury, spinal injury, mental health difficulty, physical or learning disability, all in the areas of employment and training, job retention and community rehabilitation.

Momentum Fundraiser Michael Jamieson said:

“We are most grateful to Jim, Carole, Colin and Chris for giving their time and expertise to help raise funds to support the continuing work of Momentum in the North East.

“This is the ideal opportunity for all budding gardeners, and indeed those like myself who perhaps just want to find out about gardening generally, to come along and have their horticultural problems and queries answered by these three gardening experts. Of course we also have one of STV’s top presenters hosting the event for us which will most certainly add to the overall enjoyment of the event.”

Tickets cost £8, including refreshments, and are available in advance from Michael Jamieson on 07739 526531

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Dec 022014

Dr Garuth ChalfontWith thanks to Jessica Murphy.

An innovative garden project devised by Simeon Care for the Elderly will become a reality after securing £45,000 in funding.

The Aberdeen-based charity was delighted to find out it had been successful in the final of the Big Lottery Fund People’s Millions competition last night (Thursday November 27).

Simeon’s Golden Garden will provide a therapeutic haven for the 23 residents in the new care home they are building.

The home is taking shape but the outdoor space consists of piles and rubble and mud, which will now be transformed thanks to the funding.

Jeannie Carlson, Simeon Care for the Elderly manager, said the charity was overwhelmed with the support they received from the public.

“It has made such a huge difference in helping spread the word about The Golden Garden. The response we have received is just amazing and we are delighted as the process has helped more people find out about Simeon. Winning the funding means so much to us and will make such a difference to the residents as we can now fast-track the plans for The Golden Garden,” she said.

“We would like to thank everyone that took the time to vote for us as you have helped make the project a reality. For us, the garden will form an integral part of the care we provide residents here at Simeon. It is not just in the building, so much of the life of the Simeon community happens outside.”

The innovative garden plans will include a terrace with views towards the River Dee, seating alcoves taking their inspiration from seaside pavilions, a variety of alcoves with seating for groups, a hand-crafted wooden bridge, potting shed, food and flower patch, wildlife stations and personal patios leading from individual bedrooms. Carefully planned planting and features such as swing seats developed specifically for those with dementia are also included.

Jeannie Carlson added:

“Simeon is driven by a commitment to provide as much comfort and care as we possibly can. For so many elderly people, being outside is a great joy. It aids wellbeing and brings happiness into their lives, and for many, is something they treasured in their own homes. To be able to offer that same simple pleasure in a care home that is now their home is an essential support.

Dr Garuth Chalfront (pictured), a leading expert in the design, research and use of healing garden, therapeutic landscaping and dementia-friendly spaces, has developed the garden blueprint. It forms part of the new Simeon Care for the Elderly development, which is currently under construction in the grounds of the organisation’s existing facility at Cairnlee Road in Bieldside.

More Info: Simeon Care for the Elderly has been meeting the needs of older people for 30 years. Simeon’s philosophy of care, compassion and companionship supports older people to have an active, meaningful and purposeful life in a community setting and provides dignified and compassionate care and end of life care, supporting the individual as well as their families. The independent charity is part of the Camphill Movement and one of seven Camphill charities in Aberdeen.

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Oct 182012

With thanks to Rhonda Reekie.

Awards for All have approved a grant of £2854 to Bucksburn and Newhills Community Council, to establish a herb garden for the use of residents. The garden will comprise a series of raised beds, and it’s to be on the site of the former library, just off Kepplehills Road.

A wide variety of hardy herbs will be grown, with labels to identify them.

Car parking is available nearby and the beds will be suitable for disabled access.

Rhonda Reekie, who chairs the Community Council, said:

 “The intention is that once the garden is established and the herbs are growing well, residents will be invited to take modest quantities for use in their cooking.  We also hope to have events to tell people about herbs and their uses.

“The garden is being established in partnership with Bucksburn Academy and we hope that members of the community will volunteer to help too.”

Work will begin on the site on Saturday, 10th November, from 10am to 12 noon. The garden will be marked out and a start made on preparing the ground to take paving slabs and raised beds.

Senior school pupils, parents and members of the wider community will hopefully join in these preparations.

To volunteer to help in the project, phone Aberdeen 712605.

Buckburn and Newhills Community Council have also produced the first Beautiful Bucksburn Calendar. It shows a month per page and includes photos donated by local residents featuring beauty spots in and around Bucksburn, Newhills, Stoneywood and Forrit Brae.

Calendars will be on sale for £5.00, from Monday 15th October. All sales go towards funding local improvements. Contact Lesley, tel 01224 712605

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May 112012

Solstice Nurseries will hold a plant sale on Saturday 26th May between 10.30 and 13:00 to give people in our neighbourhood an opportunity to come to our wholesale nursery and buy plants directly from us, the growers. The Fruitbat tells Voice readers:

We are a social firm ( a not for profit organisation) which operates commercially.

Solstice provides garden maintenance and is also a wholesale nursery that sells heathers, herbaceous plants, shrubs and alpine plants to the retail market.

This is a superb opportunity to support our organisation which works with adults who are recovering from mental health issues and preparing for employment.

Admission is by donation for Solstice funds; we will have a raffle and, of course, we will sell plants.

The local Guild has kindly agreed to come and share this event by selling refreshments and home bakes for their funds – great value!  They will also have a couple of fundraising stalls.

We are located at Banchory and Leggart Estate (the policies) and nestled in a beautiful secluded site at Drumduan Walled Garden. The main entrance is best found from the South Deeside Road, about one mile from Leggart Terrace heading out of town, and will be signposted on the day.

We hope that you will come to support this event and get to know us.




May 032012

Located at a beautiful site within a secluded walled garden, just a short distance from Aberdeen on the South Deeside Road is a wholesale nursery with a difference that is unknown to most people. The Fruitbat tells Aberdeen Voice more about this interesting, unique and worthwhile project.

Solstice Nurseries is an organisation that exists to provide training, qualifications and work experience to people with or recovering from mental illness.

On the face of it this sounds like many other organisations, whether they are charities or council run projects, but Solstice is run as a Social Firm – that is a not-for-profit business – in simple terms it means running as a commercial business but ploughing any profit back into the business.

The business consists of a wholesale plant nursery and garden maintenance services whereby people can stay and work in the nursery or, following training, go out and work with the maintenance team.

The maintenance squads cover the usual range of garden services such as grass cutting, pruning, weeding and tidying. Occasionally, people require a garden created from scratch and the guys have enjoyed working on these and seeing the finished design.

The nursery specialises in hardy Scottish Heathers, offering plants from a range of over 100 different varieties! We also sell perennial herbaceous plants and Alpines with most of our stock going to council landscapers, garden centres and nurseries.

Throughout the year there are small sidelines that help to keep everyone busy even in the bad weather such as table centrepieces for weddings, and a few years ago we started to make Christmas wreaths and some of the participants found hitherto unknown artistic talents to the extent that feedback from customers is fantastic.

People coming to Solstice for training and work experience usually begin with two days a week with the option to attend more often after initial training.

We pride ourselves in looking at the individual and their needs rather than focussing on a diagnosis.

For a number of folk, Solstice is their first stop following recovery and almost all need to regain or attain skills; this can be social and life skills in addition to employment skills and qualifications.

Participants can undertake a VQ Level 2 in Amenity Horticulture, which is taught on-site in partnership with Aberdeen College. A few people come to Solstice for a relatively short time before moving on to open employment, while for others Solstice is their supported workplace where they will stay and assist by ‘buddying’ new participants and helping with training.

This system boosts confidence and self-esteem for the ‘old timers’ and allays new people’s anxiety.

Visitors are always impressed when they see the nursery and realise the full extent of our operation with thousands of plants at varying stages of growth and up to twenty five participants all working away potting, weeding and propagating etc.

However, to save anyone from the impression of institutionalised regimentation, it’s worth also mentioning that there is a miscellany of dogs who accompany participants and staff to work and can be found playing together or lying at someone’s feet – not necessarily that of their owner. Currently we have eight regular attending dogs ranging from Chihuahuas to a St Bernard!

On a serious note, the dogs attending has helped a few folk who were nervous around animals, and the relaxed atmosphere they engender encourages socialising which is a huge part of recovery from mental health issues.

Therefore, not the usual run of the mill organisation, but nonetheless a successful one in terms of working with people and working on being successful commercially to ensure that we continue to be able to ‘grow people and plants.’

Mar 082012

The Council has taken a bit of a pasting recently, probably in Voice as much as anywhere. That’s what happens when we invite citizens to pen articles for us. One of Aberdeen Voice’s founders, Ross Cunningham, makes a welcome return by musing on some of the things that councils responsible for the city actually got right over the years.

Let’s face it, our city council is pretty woeful.
Hundreds of millions in debt, essential services cut, hair-brained schemes to revamp the city centre and deafness to those who wish to voice their opinions on the city itself.

But, was it always like this? Surely our great city’s leaders must have been competent once upon a time?

I’m sure there are many more fantastic schemes the council has facilitated over the years that I’ve left out, so please feel free to add to the list. But first try these…..

1. Raising Union Street to street level from Union Terrace to Castlegate

What a superb plan. It almost bankrupted the city when it was built in the 19th century but that was the problem of Aberdonians back then and not ours. Can you imagine having to go downhill and back up again to get from KFC to Poundland? No thank you!

2. Putting the Canal Street signpost on top of a pole instead of at street level

Brilliant! We were all tired of seeing people scoring out the C and S to formulate a crude and badly-spelled statement. To hell with delivery drivers unfamiliar to the area who may not have a TomTom to guide them. Someone needs to treat these things anally!

3. Britain In Bloom champions umpteen times

Being an ex-gardener, the floral displays in the city have always delighted me. Considering we are surrounded by grey, the colour and vibrancy the flowers provided were always a welcome sight. It looks like we may have a new place to show off our horticultural nous very soon. I’d rather we just did up the old one.

4. Revamping Marischal College

It’s amazing what you can do with a pressure washer nowadays. The granite sparkles with a freshness not seen for at least half a century – apart from the old church on the side – and it sits across the road from the recently-evacuated monstrosity. Still, the view from the never-ending queue to wait to discuss inaccuracies on your council tax bill is better than it ever has been.

5. Rebranding the city arms logo

Does anyone remember when the leopards on the city logo looked a bit too fierce and menacing? Surely not the sort of image the city would wish to portray? The answer? Make them look more like a cartoon drawn by an infant, with their tongues sticking out. Sorted.

Nov 172011

Bucksburn in Bloom was born because we wanted to brighten up our neighbourhood with floral displays and to try and make it a brighter place to live. Drew Levy,  President of Bucksburn in Bloom writes.

For a good many years I as an individual had entered into Aberdeen in Bloom and after 6 years of effort in 2011 our garden was awarded 1st prize.
However back in 2007 we were asked what we could do with our street.

To start with I suggested we could get some brackets on the lamp-posts and have two hanging baskets on each lamp-post, then as well as making our own planters we also looked into asking the council if we could have 4 planters as well.

Since 2007 we have added different things to our area and it was one of these improvements, at the entrance to our  our street,  after seeing an article for “Britain’s Best Flowerbed Photo Competition” in a Beautiful Scotland & the RHS News Letter, that we decided to enter into the competition.

At around this same time we were making improvements with floral displays to Bucksburn and also choosing a name and so: Bucksburn in Bloom was born.

Back to the photo competition, we decided to send in the photos of our flowerbed and the entry letter to go with it. We did not expect to win anything, and when you consider that the competition was across the whole of the UK and we are just a new group, you can imagine our surprise when a couple of months later we had been awarded 2nd Prize in our class.

There was more to come, as a result of the prize we were given a 7mtr x 4mtr flowerbed at the North of England’s largest show – The RHS Tatton Park Flower Show in 2009, similar to the Chelsea Flower Show in London .

Once the shock and surprise had eased off we set about designing the flowerbed with all the plants and landscaping. We submitted our design which was a floral oilrig, themed “Scotland’s Homecoming”. In July we packed up all the plants and accessories and we were off to Manchester to take part in our first RHS show.

We had three days to build the flowerbed and on the Wednesday it was judged. We were awarded an RHS Merit, the first they have ever given and we were very proud of it especially as we were up against 26 local council’s in the same category. On the Wednesday after judging the show was opened to 90,000 visitors until the Sunday. We were not just representing Bucksburn but Aberdeen and the North of Scotland and as such we were proud to be dressed in our national costume- the full kilt outfit.

Another great surprise was when we were asked to come back next year in 2010. When asked what our theme would be, we decided that we were going to look into doing a flowerbed around the Highland Coo (cow) complete with its long horns.

Well, in 2010 our entry was accepted and in July  we collected “Gracie” – the coo from the Loch Katrine Centre & headed off to Tatton Park flower show.
We drove all through the night to get there for the Friday morning.

We had incorporated not just the coo, but a block of local Kemnay granite into our bed , which our Lord Provost Mr Peter Stephen had chosen the design of a thistle to be carved into its 4 sides.

Much to our delight and all our hard work this flowerbed was awarded an RHS Bronze Medal!

Sadly, we could not go this year (2011) due to my very bad health, but we have used this time to our advantage. The Tatton Park Show Manager phoned me to say that I had to get well for next year as Bucksburn in Bloom is part of the Tatton Park Family now and we have our place for 2012. We have designed our next flowerbed in the form of a flower canoe and paddles entitled “2012 Paddling to Success “.

If anyone would like to visit our web site you will see not only the first and second flower beds, but also our work around Bucksburn and  you will also see our design for the 2012 show when it goes onto the site in a few weeks time.

We bring all our plants back to Bucksburn & plant them around the area. The granite pillar used in the “coo” flowerbed was presented to the Lord Provost who accepted it on behalf of the people of Aberdeen. It has been placed in the floral courtyard at the Winter Gardens in Duthie Park for all to see.

Our flowerbed and Bucksburn in Bloom were featured live on TV at the time on Gardeners World Live

We feel the floral work that we are doing is going some way in not only  helping the area look nicer but in hopefully bringing people together and I can think of no better way than community gardening. You are out in the fresh air, you are improving your environment and everyone young and old can always learn about gardening.

At 59 and with my years of gardening experience I am still learning all the time and it is good that as you grow older you can pass on your skills to the younger up and coming gardeners.

Our entries to the show are all paid for by sponsors and donations, which allows us to represent Bucksburn and Aberdeen at the RHS Tatton Park show. Our flowerbed and Bucksburn in Bloom were featured live on TV at the time on Gardeners World Live.

We always need sponsorship & donations to help us represent the area. Anyone wishing to make a donation or sponsor our flowerbed entries or even wishing to become a volunteer or just wanting to look us up on our web site,  the details are as follows:

On a final note; one of next biggest projects and working alongside Bucksburn and Newhills Community Council is to try and turn an old school playing field into Scotland’s and Aberdeen’s first solar powered, totally green Community Park for the people & visitors to Bucksburn.  We will be needing volunteers to help with the project for the 5 years it will take to build it.

Whether you are young or old always enjoy your gardening.

May 122011

With Thanks To Aberdeen Forward.

As Spring arrives, Zero Waste Scotland share their top five tips to a blooming wonderful garden and a flourishing compost bin.

Gillian Marr at environmental charity, Aberdeen Forward says:

“The start of the growing season is a great time to get out in the garden and also give your compost bin some attention. It’s time to clear out your winter garden debris and fill your garden with bright flowers.
“Composting is a great way to turn all those garden clippings and trimmings into a useful soil conditioner for your garden.  If you don’t already compost at home, spring is a great time of year to start.”

Zero Waste Scotland’s top five tips to a blooming wonderful garden this Spring:

  1. Rake your lawn to get rid of old growth, twigs and stray leaves and put it in your compost bin.  This lets the light and air into the soil level encouraging grass to grow.  Your grass will be looking lush in time for your first summer BBQ!
  2. Cut back last season’s plants and add the trimmings to your compost bin.
  3. Give your soil a boost by adding nutrient rich homemade compost in preparation for Spring planting.
  4. Moisturise with mulch! When planting new shrubs and fruit trees, mulch heavily around the base with compost. The mulch will prevent moisture loss which means you’ll do less watering.
  5. After your Spring clean, add the vacuumed dirt and dust to your compost bin.

For information and advice on home composting and seasonal tips for composting in Spring, visit: www.wasteawarescotland.org.uk

Zero Waste Scotland is the new unified body created to support delivery of the Scottish Government’s Zero Waste policy goals. It integrates the work of WRAP Scotland, Waste Aware Scotland, Envirowise, NISP and the Community Recycling Network for Scotland.

More information on Zero Waste Scotland’s programmes is available from: www.zerowastescotland.org.uk