Melville tenants transform unloved Midlothian garden



A green fingered couple have teamed up with Melville Housing Association to transform an unloved patch of communal space behind their Penicuik home into a fabulous community garden.

(from left) Shona and Sam Wilkie with Melville housing officer Emma Shanks

Sam and Shona Wilkie, who moved into Melville’s Windsor Lane development in 2013, began the project a little over a year ago following a chat with their housing officer. Sam, who is a retired gardener, has used all of the skills built up during a lifetime of landscaping work to create a lovely garden for the small community.

Although the main growing season will shortly come to an end, the most recent addition to the garden is a chatting bench, funded by Cycling Scotland’s Social Housing Partnership Fund. Made of durable, recycled plastic, the new bench provides a sheltered spot for Sam, Shona and others to rest, reflect and enjoy the fruit of their labours.

“It’s been a lot of hard work to get to this stage, but it kept me busy during lockdown,” said Sam. “The garden’s on a pretty steep slope which has made planting tricky but we’re far from finished. The next stage is to replace the slope with three terraces. This will make planting much easier and increase production.”

“We’re both really pleased with what we’ve achieved over the past year and the neighbours seem to like what we’ve done as well. The bench is a nice addition and we’ve also appreciated the garden centre vouchers that Melville has donated. It’s little things like this that make a real difference.”

The garden, made up of a mix of flowers and veg, is a brilliant demonstration of what can be achieved in a small space by motivated people. It’s also sustainable, with Sam collecting rain to water the plants and encouraging bees and other insects for pollination.

“What Sam and Shona have achieved is truly inspirational,” said Emma Shanks, Melville Housing Officer for Penicuik. “We love to see our tenants taking ownership of projects like this and we’ll always help out if we can. Any Melville tenant who is inspired to try something similar should let us know and we’d be delighted to see what we can do.”

The Social Housing Partnership Fund for Improved Cycling and Walking Facilities, is delivered by Cycling Scotland in partnership with the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), Living Streets Scotland and Sustrans. Funding can be used for a range of infrastructure proposals including cycle parking shelters, street furniture such as seating, litter bins, bollards and planters as well as improvements to access points and lighting.



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