£1.5m bid to salvage city oasis

Gogar's Suntrap Garden has been used as a training site
Gogar's Suntrap Garden has been used as a training site
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Campaigners are appealing for funds to save the historic Suntrap Garden in Gogar, with plans to expand it and develop the site, including the creation of a living museum.

The Friends of Suntrap are hoping to raise £1.5 million so they can buy the three-acre oasis at Gogar, which has been put up for sale by its joint owners the National Trust and Oatridge College.

It was announced in 2010 that Oatridge College would have to give up the garden, which it used as a specialist training site for amateur gardeners and people with severe learning difficulties for more than 25 years, after being faced with a £750,000 repair bill.

The announcement also threw into question the future of the Scottish National Bonsai Collection, which was kept there.

The campaign to save the garden was sparked by concerns it could be sold to developers for housing, and while assurances have been given that the sale would not lead to a housing project, campaigners are still worried that the land could be sold to someone who would not maintain the garden.

Now the support group has announced plans to raise the initial £705,000 needed to buy the land so they can maintain and expand it themselves.

Their proposals for the future of the garden include creating a living museum in Millbie House, a refurbishment of the Italian sunken garden, a new cafe, water sculptures and a children’s educational garden.

Potential owners would also like to hold concerts, plant sales and other events within the garden.

Gordon Murdy, who has helped develop plans to revamp the garden said campaigners had been in discussion with the sellers and were hopeful they could secure the land.

He said: “We feel it is a very worthy project that will engage the public and create a beautiful open space. The first step is to buy the garden, be it with a bank loan, the help of a benefactor, fundraising or public donations.

“There is a bit of pressure as they are looking for a change of use of the land, which would be a huge shame. We have had some useful meetings with the National Trust for Scotland and Oatridge College, and we are hopeful it may be sold to ourselves.

“We plan to introduce many new features and upgrade the house to become a living museum. Suntrap can maintain its ethos and become a successful visitor attraction.”

The garden was created by philanthropist and amateur gardener George Boyd Anderson in 1957. He bequeathed it to the National Trust for Scotland and the old Edinburgh Corporation in 1972.

In 1984, upkeep of the three-acre site was handed over to Oatridge College and it became a Centre for Lifelong Learning in 2001.