The garden was the Community Company’s first major project and was created in 2002 in partnership with the BBC’s Beechgrove Garden, the Boat Hotel and the Strathspey Steam Railway and with help from many volunteers and sponsors.
Originally the Station Master’s vegetable garden, its management was taken over by the Community Council in the 1970s and many of you will remember Margaret Hutchison, who tended the garden for many years. It was a hidden gem in those days, accessed by a rickety wooden staircase from the hotel’s car park, and not visited or even seen by most passers by.
Two of the founding directors of the Community Company, Shona Tatchell (who then owned the Boat Hotel) and Christine Morrison (owner of Moorfield House), applied to be one of the BBC’s Birchgrove Garden projects. Managed by Lorraine MacPherson, Iain Murray and Anna Barton, the project was completed within five months and the grand opening took place in September 2002, complete with a display from the village’s Flag Troupe. More than 50 residents became members of the Garden Group, committing to maintain the garden.
The garden is still managed by these volunteers who meet once a month for an hour or so, finishing with refreshments and a blether. Some people have their own area to look after. New volunteers are always very welcome and are invited to get in touch with Sue Murray on 831012.
Many visitors give donations, including benches and plants. We have a lovely weeping cherry which was planted to remember Margaret Hutchison.
The Boat of Garten Wildlife Group, BOGWIG, advised by Gill Nisbet, planted an area specially to encourage bees, insects and birds. Sadly, Gill died in 2006, but the Wildlife Corner will always be Gill’s corner.
Thanks to a generous grant from The Cairngorm National Park Authority, the Community Garden has an interpretive panel to the right of the entrance, and three new benches surrounding the grass as well as a picnic table in the centre of the hard standing near the grass. The benches have inscriptions to draw attention to the peace of the garden, and to the proximity of the steam train. The benches were designed by Interpretaction and made by The Forestry Commission at Mosstodloch.
In 2020 the picnic table was replaced by the wonderful Leaf Table, designed and created by Black Ox Arts.