Grant marks new chapter for Penicuik’s Lost Garden

Florence Kennedy at the garden's gate. Picture: Toby Williams
Florence Kennedy at the garden's gate. Picture: Toby Williams
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A SECRET garden inspired by the extravagance of a long-lost London landmark is being restored after 50 years of neglect.

A team of volunteers has been awarded a grant of almost £32,000 to help return the Lost Garden of Penicuik to its former glory. The green space, which was built in about 1877, lies north-east of Penicuik House.

When it first opened the garden became known for its imposing gates, grand staircase and nine hothouses.

The walled garden’s 110 yards of glasshouses were inspired by London’s Crystal Palace – a giant cast iron and plate glass building erected in Hyde Park that was destroyed by fire in 1936.
Penicuik’s jewel has become overgrown after being largely forgotten about over the past half-century.

A 30-year lease was granted to the Penicuik Community Development Trust, which will use the garden to grow food – as would have happened in its heyday.

The trust has been working on the restoration project for the past 20 months, and the £31,900 grant awarded yesterday from the Climate Challenge Fund will come as a welcome boost.

Trust convener Roger Kelly said: “This is a 50-year project to undo the past 50 years of dereliction. We see ourselves as primarily a community growing project, but we’ll be restoring the garden as we go along.”

Crops being reintroduced include potatoes – intended to rejuvenate the soil – and ultimately vegetables and soft fruit.

“It really was extravagant in its heyday,” Mr Kelly said of the garden. “Money was no object when it was built. That’s why it’s such an asset. The grand staircase right in the middle of the whole project is magnificent and still there today. There’s enormous stones there.”

Under plans, an old bothy in the garden will be restored to show how people would have lived a century ago.

Midlothian South MSP Christine Grahame said: “I met campaigners last year and agreed to look into what funding might be available for them. They have now successfully ­secured this substantial amount, which will benefit the local community.

“When I visited the site I could see the potential for a community resource and I know the trust has worked hard to tidy it up.”

The trust is calling for volunteers with building skills needed to help restore walls, the main conservatory and 
the original greenhouses.

dale.miller@edinburghnews.com