Small Edinburgh park gifted trees and shrubs to brighten area and tackle emissions

A small park next to the Water of Leith has been brightened up with a host of carefully selected trees and shrubs.

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 7:00 am
Lady Jennifer Bute and with Ruthe Davies Edinburgh City Council's trees and woodlands officer Picture: Lisa Ferguson On March 15 Edinburgh City Council’s Forestry Department will be planting a collection of exciting trees and shrubs in this little park which runs between the Water of Leith and Arboretum Road. As the UK has a critically low level of tree cover, which is needed to mitigate climate change, this small contribution will not only beautify this little park but assist in removing greenhouse gas emissions. "The trees and shrubs chosen are a mix of native and select horticultural species, including Acer, Stewartia (originally Stuartia), Gingko, Metasequoia, Salix, Davidia, Magnolia and Cornus, as well as a lovely Rosa 'Mary Queen of Scots', not to mention a wealth of other trees and shrubs. The new plantings will be labelled to permit park users to both enjoy and learn about the species. These plants have been gifted to the City by Lady Jennifer Bute, who lives near the park; she welcomes enthusiastic locals to volunteer to assist with the watering during drier periods of spring and summer while the new plantings establish (a portable bowser is available). There will be a celebratory ‘Opening Party’, once the Covid restrictions are relaxed, performed by Simon Milne MBE, Regius Keeper of Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh. Will Hinchliffe has assisted with the design and Helen Thompson with the handsome labels which are very generously being supplied by RBGE.

A total of 31 plants were gifted to the public park in Arboretum Avenue by 88-year-old Lady Jennifer Bute, who lives nearby.

She said: “Hopefully I’ve chosen ones which will contribute something leaf – either in the winter or an unusual shape or an unusual colour – and as many as possible with flowers and some of them to be fragrant.

“There are a couple of benches on the pavement backing onto the park so I’ve put some fragrant plants next to them.

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Lady Jennifer Bute has been a keen and knowledgeable gardener all her life Picture: Lisa Ferguson

“I think it will look very nice – people are enjoying it already.

"The weeping willows have already got lovely buds on them, as have many of the others.

“And because of Covid there are lots of people visiting the Botanics and lots of them walk along Arboretum Avenue the edge of this little park and people keep stopping and saying ‘Good on you’ and ‘What a wonderful thing to see’.

"As the UK has a critically low level of tree cover, which is needed to mitigate climate change, this small contribution will not only beautify this little park but assist in removing greenhouse gas emissions.”

The trees and shrubs Lady Bute has chosen are a mix of native and select species, including Acer, Stewartia, Gingko, Metasequoia, Salix, Davidia, Magnolia and Cornus, as well as a Rosa “Mary Queen of Scots”.

"I’m gathering volunteers to come and help water them in the dry months in spring and summer,” she said.

The new plantings will have labels supplied by the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh to help park-users enjoy and learn about the species.

“I’ve gardened all my life,” she said. “My mother was a great gardener, I’ve always done a lot of gardening.”

And she is a member of the International Dendrology Society – dendrology being the study of woody plants – and goes on tours it organises all over the world.

An official opening by Simon Milne, Regius Keeper of the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, is being planned once Covid restrictions are relaxed.

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