The organisers of Gardening Scotland – the country’s national outdoor living show and garden festival – have launched a brand-new, nation-wide competition to find Scotland’s best gardener, and people in East Lothian are being urged to apply.

The Gardener of the Year award is open to anyone with a passion for creating inspiring outdoor spaces, from novices to experts, young to old and amateurs to professionals. Everyone can apply, and people can also nominate friends, colleagues or relatives.

The new award has been launched in order to celebrate the skills and enthusiasm of gardeners up and down the country, from vegetable growers to chrysanthemum exhibitors to budding garden designers and primary school allotmenteers.

The winner of the award will be selected by an expert panel of judges who are looking for a gardener with infectious enthusiasm, a drive to learn and a passion for gardening. The announcement will be made at Gardening Scotland 2017, which takes place at the Royal Highland Showground, Ingliston, from 2nd – 4th June.

The lucky winner will receive, amongst other prizes, £250 of Caulders Garden Centre vouchers to spend on transforming their own outdoor space.

Martin Dare, Gardening Scotland’s organiser said:

“Gardening Scotland is a celebration of all things related to the great outdoors. We know for a fact there are thousands of outstanding gardeners who never get recognised for their hard work and commitment to gardening – we want that to change, which is why we’re launching this new award.

“To enter, all you need to do is send a written submission of no more than 250 words explaining why you or the person you are nominating should be considered for Gardening Scotland’s Gardener of the Year Award. Please also send relevant photographs and drawings. Entries should be emailed to before the deadline of 1 May 2017.”

Now in its 18th year, Gardening Scotland is a celebration of gardens and everything related to the great outdoors, encompassing horticulture, gastronomy and family-friendly entertainment.

Macplants win Premier Gold award at Gardening Scotland

Gardening Scotland, Scotland’s National Gardening and Outdoor Living Show, has announced its 2016 Award Winners which include Pencaitland based Macplants.

Macplants Gavin McNaughton took to Twitter to share the good news:

Exhibitors and designers have been working hard for many months to display the very best in floral art, floral exhibits and Show Gardens and their efforts were judged last night (Thursday) by an esteemed panel of judges, including TV gardening expert Jim Buttress.

In total, there were six Premier Gold winners:

Ayr Bonsai Group; Scottish Rock Garden Club; Macplants – Herbaceous and Woodland Plants; Kevock Garden Plants – Alpine, Bog and Woodland Plants; Dibleys Nurseries – Streptocarpus and SRUC – The Hive Jive Garden.

Martin Dare, Show Organiser, said:

Everyone who exhibits at Gardening Scotland is a winner as far as we are concerned but each year we are delighted when we see some of the most truly outstanding exhibits walk away with a well deserved certificate.

When it comes to gardening at home however, it’s not about winning awards, it’s all about doing something you enjoy and learning on the job so please do come along to Gardening Scotland to find some inspiration to help your own garden grow.”

April #EastLothianHour – Kindness, Coffee and Guerrilla Happiness

For this month’s #EastLothianHour, we are going to discuss intentional, anonymous acts of kindness performed in playful, creative ways for strangers.

So what does this actually mean?

If you give someone £2 for a cup of coffee, that’s a nice, decent thing to do.

If you campaign for fair trade coffee, that’s activism (there a good selection in Earth Matters, North Berwick).

If you stick “Pay Your Tax” stickers on Starbucks, that’s subtervising/guerrilla stickering/culture jamming…or something (Some local, independent coffee establishments are listed here, but there’s heaps more).

If you and your pals run on to a train, dressed as waiters, set down a tablecloth and pour free cups of coffee for the bemused passengers that’s, well, frankly, that’s just brilliant (but not recommended on the morning commuter train to Waverley).

We’d love to hear your ideas for Random Acts of Kindness or ideas to make East Lothian and beyond, a wee bit more pleasant.

Join in the discussion, from 9p.m. – 10p.m. on Friday 1st April and use the hashtag #EastLothianHour


Prizes to be won!

gardeningscotlandNot taken part in an #EastLothianHour before?  Don’t be shy.  Just jump right in and tweet your suggestions or share your experiences – as an incentive, everyone who contributes to the discussions will be entered into a prize draw.

Prizes are:

A pair of Gardening Scotland tickets

A pair of Scotland’s Big Nature Festival tickets.

Stuck for ideas?  An A-Z of Guerrilla Kindness might look something like this:

Action for Happiness@actionhappiness helps people take practical action for a happier and more caring world. And guess what? Being kind, makes you happy.

Bus Shelters – Bus shelters are the perfect places for random acts of kindness.  East Lothian has it’s own tweeting bus shelter @PPansBusShelter where it is rumoured you may catch a glimpse of tiny people waiting for the X15.   With a rather larger budget that the Prestonpans prankster, Pepsi created an amazing augmented reality stunt at a bus shelter:

Next time you’re going for a bus, why not leave a pair of gloves, a joke or a book…or a chair? The Guerrilla Upholsterer a.k.a. @mick_sheridan leaves beautifully restored chairs in bus shelters.

Change the World for a Fiver –  Change the World for a Fiver is a book, priced at a £5, which is packed full of ideas on how to change the world for a better place.  Buy two and give one to someone.  Better still buy your copies from Hive, the network of independent bookshops.

Deeds – You’ve heard the expression, Actions speak louder than words.  It’s true.  Social Media makes it easy for us to say kind stuff, retweet kind stuff and like kind stuff but don’t forget to DO the kind stuff. (Having a Digital Detox every so often is really good for you and frees up some time too).

Effect – The side effects of kindness include happiness and healthiness.  Read more here.  The Science of Kindness –

Flashmobs – A flashmob is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then quickly disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, and artistic expression.  Who can remember the Puffin Flashmob outside the National Gallery?  Take a look at this Mannequin Mob…would something similar work in East Lothian?

Guerrilla Gardening@guerillagarden Guerilla Gardening is the act of cultivating a neglected area.  This can be setting up a community garden growing vegetables or planting up a neglected roadside verge with brightly coloured flowers.  A sideshoot is Incredible Edibles which includes projects in Dunbar.

HugsFree hugs is a social movement involving individuals who offer hugs to strangers in public places.  You might not be entirely comfortably making physical contact with a stranger, but would this ball pit experiment work here?  

Improv Everywhere@ImprovEvery is a New York City based prank collective that causes scenes of chaos and joy in public places.  Check ’em out they’re freaking hilarious.

Jokes –  Jokes, pranks, silliness, high jinx and tomfoolery – when good humoured, and made with the intention to make the ‘victim’ laugh as much as the prankster – can really lift a person’s spirits. Take a look at these daft ‘memorial’ bench plaques.  rogerCuthill Park in Prestonpans played a trick on locals when it announced the installation of a plaque to commemorate ‘physicist’ Avril Fish.  Yes, it was an April Fool’s joke.

KidsFree cakes for kids is a community service to families who find it difficult to provide a birthday cake for their child.  In Prestonpans, a small group, working in conjunction with Prestonpans Community Council & East Lothian Foodbank, provided Christmas gifts to the children of families frequently using the Foodbank service.

Little Free LibraryLittle Free Libraries build and install Little Free Libraries across the UK with the aim of increasing access to books for children, young people and their families.   Find them on Twitter @LtlFreeLibrary. If you like this idea you will love the Athelstaneford Book Nook.  On a similar vein is Bookcrossing.  the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise.  Why not leave a note inside a library book for a stranger to find.

Microfinance@Kiva is a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world. Learn more about how it works. Sign up here.

Nice Graffiti – No, we don’t mean illicit artworks in that beautiful French city (if that’s what you want, look here) we mean, uplifting non-destructive, temporary kind using chalk (see here)  or moss (see here)

Moss-Graffiti-–-How-to-Do-It12One Action@takeoneaction is Scotland’s global action cinema project linking audiences, movies, campaigners and communities.  See the change you want to be in the world!

Pay it Forward – if you’re lucky enough to be the recipient of kindness or good fortune, pay it forward.  The vision for Pay it Forward UK is to assist people to have the opportunity to give to others – particularly those less fortunate than themselves.  One good deed might not seem like much, but if everyone did something good for someone else, then the cycle of generosity and kindness can help us to become better people. @PayitForwardDay is on April 28th this year. East Lothian man, Jamie Morris aims to fund a racing wheelchair then use it to raise funds for others.  Follow his ‘Pay it Forward’ campaign here: raise funds for a racing wheelchair.

QR codes – Environmentalists have used QR codes to great effect to sticker products and give consumers information that companies prefer to keep quiet.  As well as being used by activists, an enterprising person has linked QR codes with kindness and sell kindness ‘tokens’ with a QR code on that ‘tracks’ the journey of the token.

Random Acts of Kindness – – Kindness Day is held on 13th November every year. It is a day to celebrate and promote kindness in all its forms from giving out chocolate at train stations to flash mobs. In February this year, a mystery samaritan left cash to pay for a parking fine while the car owner was in Edinburgh’s Sick Kids. The recipient was so moved by this act of kindness that has paid the favour forward with a fundraising drive for the hospital.  That’s how kindness works, like a ripple in a pond. Still stuck for ideas? Look here >>

Subtervising & Stickering –   are ‘improving’ certain prominent adverts in their own sassy way.  Although technically illegal, a similar guerrilla stickering campaign on the LondonReduction_of_expanded_play_opportunities Underground has brightened up many a commuter’s morning.  Make Magazine produced a series of stickers which could be stuck on some products in toy stores to highlight how playtime is becoming an endangered activity.

#ThisIsThoughtful@Thtfl is a magazine, studio & creative community on a design-driven mission.  Read about their Penny for your Thoughts project here  .  #ThisIsThoughtful is a little experiment…

Walk Raleigh Mount_Urbanism -It’s easy to fall in to the trap of thinking that big cities and towns and unfriendly, uncaring places and wee villages have a wonderful sense of community.  A group of North Carolina residents mounted walkable direction signs around their town. What changes would you make to your town to make East Lothian a wee bit more pleasant for residents and visitors?  Public bike pumps? Vegetable vending machines?  .  Check out some of the the improvements that three designers made in Paris. If you want proof that cities can be caring places, read these examples.  Better still, be the example.

Voice activated – You know how it is, you have a new label maker, you’re feeling a bit mischievous and next thing you know, there are confused shoppers trying to operate a ‘voice activated’ trolley.  No? Just me then.  Also works well on doors and hand dryers.  Have fun.

Weird and Wonderful – Using materials found in the local environment and some basic artist supplies such as clay and paint, Mark Buckman crafted unique quirky pieces and placed them back on the Littlehampton beach where he had found them for beach visitors to discover.  Perhaps you’ll find something at Dunbar’s Stone Stacking Challenge….

X – X is for Crossing -Would Remi Gaillard’s famous prank work in East Lothian?  And where should we carry it out?

Yarnbombing and craftivism – Crafty members of @musselburgh2016 have been decorating the Honest Toun with all sorts of creations to foster interest in the forthcoming Riding of the Marches. Follow the #ROMArt hashtag to discover more.

Zzzzz – that’s it.

Be kind to everyone you meet, not because of who they are but because of who you are!

Nothing says ‘I love you’ like tickets to Gardening Scotland

February is here and Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. This year, instead of giving a dozen red roses, why not surprise your loved one by treating them to a pair of tickets to Gardening Scotland?

What could be more romantic than giving your heart’s desire the opportunity to see the most beautiful floral fair in the country, taking place at the Royal Highland showground at Ingliston from Friday 3rd to Sunday 5th June?

Tickets to Scotland’s biggest and most renowned outdoor living show will give the love in your life the opportunity to learn about growing gorgeous flowers for cut displays as well as access to the best seasonal gardening tips, foody delights and maybe even a champagne afternoon tea.

If roses are on your mind as Valentine’s Day approaches, then perhaps you may also appreciate some tips on how to take care of them at this time of year.

rosa-ena-harkness-While roses may be prominent in February, they do not naturally flower at this time of year. If you are a fan of this full bodied bloom, then winter is the perfect time to order bare-rooted roses to ensure you can get them off to a flying start for summer. There is a huge variety of roses on offer, from floribundas to hybrid tea cultivars, bush varieties and creeping vines. Here’s a few things to keep in mind when caring for them.

Roses are hungry plants, so make sure you add plenty of organic matter, such as well-rotted manure or compost, to the soil before planting.

Newly-planted roses will need to be kept well-watered when they are trying to establish.

Add rose fertiliser in March or April, at the start of the growing season, and again in June to repeat-flowering varieties.

When flowers are ready, cut them regularly to encourage further growth.


The Gardening Scotland event, which takes place in the grounds of the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh from 3rd-5th June, welcomes a new Chairman to the fold ahead of the 2016 event.

 Jimmy Gilchrist, who runs family business GP Plantscape Ltd, based in Lanark, takes over from longstanding Chairman Donald Wemyss.

Scotland’s national gardening event has long been about gardens and not just gardening, offering ideas and inspiration for anyone who would like to better embrace their outdoor space and not simply those who are already knowledgeable gardeners. However, new Chairman Jimmy Gilchrist is determined that the event continues to evolve for the benefit of a wider audience.

Speaking of his appointment, Jimmy said:

Donald has provided me with a very sound footing and his knowledge and contacts within the sector have developed Gardening Scotland into a superb event.

I am now passionate about pushing the boundaries and maximising opportunities to ensure that everyone feels welcomed into Gardening Scotland and that by providing a day of entertainment, education, information and inspiration, the event can change the way people see their gardens. Gardening Scotland will evolve alongside the needs and demands of the public and hopefully enthuse many more people about their gardens along the way.

Outgoing Chairman, Donald Wemyss, who steps down after 6 years as Chairman and 13 years on the Gardening Scotland Board, said:

During my years at the helm, Gardening Scotland evolved from a pure flower show to an event which promises fun for all the family and I’m proud of how I have contributed to that. I am excited to see Jimmy further develop the show and enhance its appeal to a wider range of age groups, a great diversity of garden user and a wider geography than just Edinburgh.

The synergy we have managed to develop between Gardening Scotland and, for example, the food sector, really demonstrates how the event offers a superb day out for all the family, and the fact that much of the show has now been ‘weather proofed’ also means that whatever the sky throws at us, the show will go on!

I am proud to be handing the Gardening Scotland ship over to Jimmy on an even keel and am excited to see how he further develops the show, particularly given his strong commercial skills.”