Plants of Meaning

‘Plants of Meaning’ Project
The Hidden Gardens has always used plants as a way to explore and celebrate cultural heritage, faith, identity, and place, and in doing so, has sought to build bridges between communities that live side by side but are often isolated due to perceived cultural differences such as language, religious beliefs or value systems.

Our 10th Anniversary
The Hidden Gardens, with the local community at the heart of a Reminiscence project to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Gardens, undertook an inspirational programme to revisit the significance of the original planting plan and at the same time extend it, to more fully represent the local community as it was in 2012/2013- the new voices and new stories must also be heard.

Back in 2003…
The original planting plan was designed to reflect the extremely diverse local community. The planting philosophy, (developed with the expertise and support of the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh), celebrates native and exotic vegetation and succession, as well as using ideas of provenance and displacement relevant to the diversity of the local population.

Where are we now?
The community surrounding the Hidden Gardens significantly changed over the course of 9 years. There were new communities, which were not represented in the original planting plan, particularly the Eastern European and transient Roma communities.

Plants of Meaning Project
The Hidden Gardens creatively engaged with local communities over a six month period, between October 2012 and March 2013, exploring plants rich with cultural and religious significance.

The project offered a unique opportunity to explore human culture, faiths and traditions in a new way – through the sharing of stories related to an understanding of plants, flowers and horticulture and their significance and meaning to us.

What’s coming up in 2014?
The development of a ‘Plants of Meaning’ Tour, which includes the cultural, social, spiritual, culinary or medicinal significance of different plants in the Hidden Gardens collection and the local community heritage stories associated with them.

Community Participation
As an outcome of these processes, five community participants have been trained to provide guided tours of the ‘plants of meaning’ within the Hidden Gardens, as part of our “Voluntour” team. They share the heritage value and local stories with others during our local festivals and events.