Allotment 'bee cafe' creates a buzz as winners are revealed

AN ALLOTMENT with its own "bee cafe" and a community garden designed by volunteers are among the winners of this year's Edinburgh in Bloom competition.

The city council has announced the winners in the contest to encourage people to make the most of their gardens and open spaces.

They include the Ferry Tap pub in South Queensferry, which is decorated with brightly coloured window boxes and hanging baskets. Midmar Allotments, one of the most popular sites in the city, won the first prize in its category.

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And John and Monica McKinlay, from Meadowbank, won the prize for the best allotment plot. They have been growing flowers and vegetables at their site in Craigentinny for 14 years.

Mr McKinlay, 58, who works for Standard Life, said: "We were really surprised when we heard we'd won. But we did think the plot looked quite good, with everything growing nicely.

"We've even got a 'bee cafe' – it's got flowers and herbs that bees like and little pots on sticks where they can rest. I've always loved growing things, and it's a nice way to get out in the fresh air."

The prize for the best community garden was won by Redbraes, in Leith. A team of volunteers transformed the land into a flourishing garden last year, which is now popular with local families and groups. Community police officer Simon Daley was one of the driving forces behind the garden.

One of the Edinburgh in Bloom judges said: "One year in the making and the garden has already become an important part of the local community. The transformation from the once boring grassed area into a vibrant, well used community area, with vegetables, flowers and wildlife, is truly amazing."

Runners-up were Hailesland Community Garden and Corstorphine Hill Walled Garden. The prize for the best shared tenement garden was won by a group of residents in South Clerk Street, while the best allotment site was Midmar, near Blackford Hill.

The Ferry Tap won the prize for best commercial property. Manager Linda Gamble, a keen gardener, decorates it with hanging baskets and window boxes filled with seasonal plants. Many of the regular customers help by offering to water or trim the plants.

She said: "It's very popular with the customers, and it gives them and me a lot of pleasure. We often get tourists stopping to take pictures when they see it!"

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The judges visited the nominees in July, awarding points for garden design, quality of floral displays, biodiversity, cleanliness and community involvement.

Councillor Robert Aldridge, the city's environment leader, said: "Well done to all the green- fingered entrants and winners of this year's Edinburgh in Bloom contest. I applaud the effort and imagination of the entrants in creating these beautiful displays, which make local neighbourhoods more attractive and also contribute to the beauty of our city."

All winners have been invited to an awards evening on Wednesday, 2 December in the Assembly Rooms.


Best Allotment Plot

1. John and Monica McKinlay, Craigentinny Allotments

2. Muriel Horsburgh, Lady Road Allotments

3. Lesley McCarthy, Lady Road Allotments

Best Allotment Site

1. Midmar Allotment Site

2. Inverleith Allotment Site

3. Greendykes Allotment Site

Best Community Garden

1. Redbraes Community Garden

2. Hailesland Community Garden

3. Corstorphine Hill Walled Garden Community Garden

Best Front Garden

1. Jaqi Armstrong, Cornerstone

2. Catherine Murray, Morningside

3. Maruska Greenwood and Kate Fearnley, Slateford

Highly commended: Ann Walton, Sighthill; Maura Spencer, Portobello; George and Kate Lothian, The Inch

Best Shared Tenement Garden

1. 48-60 South Clerk Street (nominated by Julian Bukits)

2. 1 and 3 Millar Place (nominated by Mairi Fortuna)

3. Polwarth Gardens Shared Tenement Garden (nominated by Joan Blair)

Best Commercial Property

1. The Ferry Tap, South Queensferry

2. Real Foods, Broughton Street

3. British Geological Survey, West Mains Road

Special Award: Edinburgh Park, The Gyle