The project is led by City of Edinburgh Council in partnership with the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society (RCHS) and the Friends of Saughton Park.
Saughton Park’s history dates back to 1639. It housed an asylum in the 19th century, where plant care and gardening were used in patients’ recovery. Between 1900 and 1905 the park was purchased by the council to provide a community recreational space. Its tradition of nature-based therapy continues to this day.
“[volunteering] was a great thing to build up my confidence and self-esteem.”
- Michael, Saughton Park volunteer
Project works include the restoration of the bandstand and walled garden and a new plaza and café. Nature and wildlife have also been boosted. These provide the perfect space for wellbeing activities, including pioneering horticultural therapy classes run by RCHS.
Michael, a volunteer who has experienced poor mental health, has been on a placement with the park’s head gardener. In a recent park research report, he said: “[volunteering] was a great thing to build up my confidence and self-esteem.”
Other activities include cycling classes for people with disabilities, making use of modified bikes and re-designed park paths, and events organised with local Syrian community groups to make refugees feel welcome.