Catherine Evans

Mar 242017

By  Julie Parkin (Schools Education Tutor) and Cath Evans (RBGE Education Officer)

Digging for Victory (Photo credit: Brenda White)

Our new Schools Programmes are settling in well in the Cottage and we held our first Dig for Victory Week from 6th – 9th March 2017 where P6-7 classes from various schools came to the Botanics to join our Home Front for the day.

The Home Front during World War 2 is a popular project in upper primary classes, focusing on evacuation, air-raids and rationing, with teachers always looking for ways to make it relevant, fun and active for the children. Schools can readily access books, pictures and DVDs, but the RBGE Dig for Victory programme links with real gardeners from the past and gives the children chance to wear the clothes, sing the songs and do the same gardening activities as shown in the old instructional Pathé films and leaflets issued by the Ministry of Agriculture. This hands-on learning is motivating and can build confidence and relationships, bringing success to the children who do not achieve so easily in the classroom. Our session also includes some local history using old photos of the allotments on Inverleith House Lawn and of a Land Girl who was the mother of a member of staff at RBGE.

Setting the scene in the Cottage (Photo credit: Brenda White)

The facilities in the Botanic Cottage and the adult support from tutors and volunteers give confidence to teachers who don’t have prior gardening knowledge. Some of the pupils have never seen the Botanics before and are unfamiliar with the range of vegetables in the Demonstration Garden. The ‘Vital Vegetable’ trail widens their knowledge about seasonal produce and contributes to the health and well-being focus in all schools.  

Feedback from teachers has been positive in that the session complements what the children are learning in school and the children really enjoyed being taught how to dig. They gained a real sense of the differences in the modern and wartime diets when there was little choice – you had to grow and eat your own veg to have fresh food on the table and stay to healthy. The programme also has a relevant message for present times after the shortages of Iceberg lettuce, spinach and courgettes following bad winter weather in Spain. Learning how to grow our own is just as important a skill as it was back then. 

We’d like to thank volunteers who help run our school programmes in the Cottage and spend hours making props, preparing the plots and sharing their enthusiasm about gardening with the children who visit.

Nov 192015



Botanical artists Jacqui Pestell and Sharon Tingey create our backdrop

As the opening of the Botanic Cottage is fast approaching props and resources are being made and tested for the new school programmes which will open for bookings next spring.
Education volunteers, who are an essential part of the team, have been beavering away making bespoke items such as gnome hats, laminated vegetables, wiggly worms and labelling tools.


School Gardening Project volunteers Helen and Charlie make gnome hats

RBGE’s botanical artists Jacqui Pestell and Sharon Tingey have been hand painting and printing a beautiful backdrop for ‘Grandpa’s Garden’, our new nursery programme. Grandpa (a green-fingered puppet) will invite children to come and meet him in his potting shed (the Botanic Cottage) to help him in his garden with activities such as digging; Colour match in the rainbow patch; Swish and sniff; learning Grandpa’s special gardening song and lots more. They will learn that everything has its season in the garden through listening to Grandpa’s story. The backdrop shows four seasons in one and contains visual clues to bring the whole experience together.

Other new programmes include ‘Dig for Victory’ and ‘Grow your Own’ for older children.The new Botanic Cottage Schools Programme is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Cruden Foundation, The Edina Trust, The Ernest Cook Trust, The Gannochy Trust and The RobertsonTrust.


To find out more about these and other school programmes at RBGE RBGE Schools Programme 2015-16.

Nov 212013

100_2719 smallThe Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is delighted to be the first garden ever to take part in the national  ‘Kids Takeover the Museum Day’ on Thursday 28th November 2013. We are pleased to be working with pupils from Broughton Primary, Leith Academy and Prospect Bank School.

The Takeover Day has been running in England for the past 10 years but this year sees its launch in Scotland.

The idea behind the Day is to give children and young people meaningful roles and for the organisation to learn from the young people themselves. Available roles range from horticultural jobs; working as assistants in the café and restaurant; carrying out the duties of the Visitor Welcome Team; inputting ideas into products for the Botanics  Shop; taking over the social media and official photography for the day; developing trails; writing for the magazine and helping in the library.

Pupils have studied the job descriptions of various roles and have written mini CVs to help them decide which job they wish to do.

We hope that the experience increases the pupils’ confidence in the world of work and gives them a better understanding about the work of the RBGE – what goes on behind the scenes! We also hope that they will share their own expertise, giving RBGE a better understanding of what young people want and producing trails and publications that we can use as part of our visitor welcome.

All pupils will gain a certificate to say they have taken part and will write a report to go into the Botanics magazine in 2014.

We hope that some of you come along to meet the young people and enjoy their enthusiasm and energy!






Apr 122013
Digging is fun!

Digging is fun!

Pupils finally had a chance to work on their plots this week due to better weather. We prepared our plots by first weeding them using hand tools and used our fantastic Burgeon and Ball Apprentice spades to dig out deeper-rooted things. We even found a few garlic cloves that had been missed in last year’s harvest which had started to sprout so we broke up the cloves and replanted them.

We then mixed in some of our vermicompost (‘worm poo’) produced by the worms in our wormery. This ‘black gold’ is full of nutrients and it will help our plants grow better.

Next we raked the soil to make it level and to get rid of any stones.

Some of us even sowed some spring-planting garlic and onions.

In our more sheltered site, which is surrounded by walls, we sowed our first seeds.

Here’s hoping for good weather next week so we can get more seeds in. It’s been a cold, late start to the growing season, but it’s better late than never!


Replanting the garlic

Our worms  Photo: Brenda White

Our worms
Photo: Brenda White

Mar 202013
Acer platanoides L. 'Crispum' 19031037 David Knott on 20/10/2007

Acer platanoides L. ‘Crispum’ 19031037 David Knott on 20/10/2007

Schools or community groups please see new grant details:

The Tree Council’s Tree Futures offers help for tree planting through two grants programmes, the ‘Trees for Schools‘ and ‘Community Trees‘ funds. Any school or community group within the UK that is planning a project that actively involves children under 16 is encouraged to draw on the fund to plant trees and make a greener future.

The Tree Council’s National Tree Week (this year from 23 November to 1 December) is the focus for these projects and successful applicants organise their planting events in conjunction with our annual celebration of the new tree planting season.

In addition, in 2013 we are offering funds for fruit tree planting by schools and community groups through our Orchard Windfalls fund.

 We are able to fund projects between £100 and £700 and successful applicants will receive up to 75% towards their planting costs. For example, if your project totals £700, The Tree Council would offer up to £525. The remaining 25% will need to be secured by your school or organisation.

Applications for 2013 are now OPEN.

Mar 182013

RBGE School Gardening Project begins again! We are delighted to be working with classes from Leith Walk Primary School, Flora Stevenson Primary School, Stockbridge Primary School, Broughton High School and Pilrig Park Special Secondary School.

The 2013 growing season has got off to a cold and frosty start so we stayed indoors and made newspaper pots to sow seeds into.

Seeds in paper pots

Seeds in paper pots

These pots are perfect for larger seeds which like being started off indoors such as: peas, beans, sweet peas, courgettes and sunflowers.

We make them by folding a sheet of newspaper in half (landscape) then rolling it around a tube, such as a toilet roll, scrunching the bottom of the paper together then pulling the tube out. Fit paper pots into plastic tubs without holes in so that you don’t have to worry about the watering over the weekend. Any excess water is soaked up by the paper.

We will keep the pots in a light place over the next month until the frosts are over when we can plant them outside in our plots. There’s no need to take the paper off – just plant them as they are! Free, recycled and fully biodegradeable!

We also looked at potatoes which are chitting nicely (growing shoots and roots from their eyes). We will plant them in tyres after the Easter Holidays. Groups of children will come on rotation each week to tend their crops but it looks like we’ll be waiting until after Easter to get our ground prepared and seeds sown outdoors.

Our potting area set-up with bags over the compost to stop it drying out