In general, I think Edinburgh is a fairly green city. Forever a city of two halves, there are lush, leafy squares in the middle of New Town roads and the Old Town buildings all too often seem to melt into craggy hills. There are secret gardens hidden down secret closes. Or the not-so-secret Princes Street Gardens, hundreds of feet swinging from benches and Marks & Spencers carryouts dotting the landscape. And there are the sleepy Sundays spent lying in the Meadows, the afternoon leaving little grassy imprints on your elbows and new freckles on your cheeks. Or climbing to the top of Arthur’s Seat to watch the sun rise and, amidst your heavy-eyed youthful determination, forgetting that you’re in a city at all. But, it’s still surprising when you stumble across a magical, secret patch of greenery which you never knew existed.
Tucked away behind the suburban streets of Slateford and Craiglockhart, Redhall Walled Garden is a beautiful six acre haven in the grounds of the 18th century Redhall House. Although the mansion house has been laid to rack and ruin, the garden is thriving under the care of SAMH, with a little help from Jo Malone. The garden is looked after by trainee gardeners who are affected by mental ill heath; SAMH offers them training in horticulture, conservation, life skills and – in the words of Jo Malone London – “as well as being rejuvenating and restorative, it’s a place where trainees can rediscover hope for their future”.
Gardens have always been at the heart of Jo Malone London’s charity work, and Redhall is the latest place to benefit from sales of the Silk Blossom Charity Candle. The proceeds from this have helped to fund the new Herb Garden and Roundhouse at Redhall, which I went along to the opening of last week. We spent a couple of hours breathing in fresh air, winding down paths and behind hedgerows, through garden gates and alongside allotment plots. Our tour of the garden was accompanied by the most beautiful afternoon tea I’ve ever seen, courtesy of the rather lovely Three Sisters Bake.
Redhall Walled Garden is open to the public daily from 9am to 4pm, and I would encourage you to visit for a little escape from city life. Lose yourself in the wild meadow, admire the summer strawberries, breathe in the fresh scents of sweet mint and marjoram in the Herb Garden. The garden is designed to encourage confidence in trainees and help those who have been struggling to find a place in the wider community. It’s all about integration, inclusion and encouraging a positive sense of purpose. Considering approximately 1 in 4 Scots are affected by mental health issues at some point in their life, projects like Redhall and charities like SAMH are vital.