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Intergenerations in the Gardens

Posted June 28th 2016 by Outside the

On a very Scottish June afternoon where the weather doesn’t quite know what to do with itself, we joined a stimulating group of people, all loosely connected by an interest in intergenerational matters*, in the stunning Botanic Cottage at Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens.

As we tucked into scones and jam from the fruit plots just outside, we first learned of the incredible story of the old cottage which has been moved stone by stone from the bottom of Leith walk to its current resting place in the Botanics; the grand move and restoration only completed this last May. “This building is very old and very new at the same time” began our host. A merging of the young and the old – both elements making the place unique; a fitting venue for an intergenerational meet up.

We were led around the ‘edible garden’ which surrounds the cottage and gives opportunities for a range of community groups, people with learning disabilities, refugees and asylum seekers & students of horticulture to grow their own fruits and vegetables in small plots, which they can then learn to cook & eat in the cottage kitchen.

Back in the cottage, we learned of the socials for people affected by dementia which the Botanics hold regularly as the Garden element in a ‘national collections’ collaboration with Edinburgh’s Libraries, Museums and Galleries. The sessions are free and are open to anyone affected by dementia, including friends, relatives and supporters. They are relaxed and interactive and allow those attending to recall their own connections with these gardens or others. They give participants a highly sensory experience – such as picking, smelling and tasting herbs from the garden – activities which can be highly conducive to memory. The Botanics was set up 150 years ago with a primary aim to improve people’s health and wellbeing – it is encouraging to see that it is still doing so, in a genuinely creative and community-focused way: find out more about the Botanic’s Garden Socials.

*The Intergenerational National Network is an informal network, open to anyone across Scotland (and further afield) who has an interest in intergenerational practice.  We meet from three to five times a year.  People come both as individuals and from a wide range of organisations and backgrounds; statutory, voluntary, academic and private.  They come with a great variety of interests, such as history and heritage; arts and culture; community safety; gardening; lifelong learning; and health and well-being. If you are interested in coming along to, or hosting, an Intergenerational National Network event, please get in touch with Pat Scrutton at patscrutton247@gmail.com

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