Bosses at the National Trust for Scotland are being urged to rethink plans to close the historic aviary at Inveresk Lodge Garden.
Concerned villagers fear the future of the garden is being put at risk by “remote management” and the gradual downgrading of its facilities.
We wonder if they’re going to downgrade the garden to point where they just close itDenis Mollison
They hope supporters of the garden will turn out in force for a public meeting in Musselburgh next week at which the trust will outline its “revised operational arrangements”.
Inveresk resident Professor Denis Mollison, a former NTS Council member, recently wrote to chief executive Simon Skinner asking that the closure of the aviary – and other changes – be put on hold to allow talks with local stakeholders.
When the trust ran into financial difficulties in 2009, the community rallied to save the garden, with Inveresk Village Society raising more than £9000 to help keep it afloat and local volunteers offering physical help.
In recent months, however, supporters have been angered by the decision to do away with the property manager at Inveresk Lodge, leaving the garden to be managed remotely from the trust’s nearby property at Newhailes.
They believe this will lead to difficulties in maintaining the garden and keeping it open to the public 365 days a year.
Only last week, villagers stepped in and saved the aviary from closure by offering to feed the birds in the absence of the gardener.
Professor Mollison said: “The Bruntons, who developed the garden 100 years ago, and later gave the property to the trust, built large aviaries in the garden, of which this one in the greenhouse is the only survivor.
“The greenhouse aviary is an attractive feature to visitors and an important part of the garden’s history.
“We do wonder if they are going to downgrade the garden to the point where they actually end up just closing it altogether.”
The trust said it was sorry to learn about these concerns and hoped they could be allayed at the public meeting, taking place at Loretto School on Wednesday, October 28 at 6.30pm.
A spokesman added: “We are revising our operational arrangements in line with practice already undertaken elsewhere, through which we group a number of properties together under a single management team in the interests of co-ordination and efficiency, and we can offer assurances that we will continue to welcome visitors to Inveresk Garden.
“We also want to work in close partnership with the local community and have a number of volunteering opportunities at the property which may be of interest.”