The Historical Centre now hosts the Ross of Mull Community Garden.
A group of local residents, keen to start a community garden in the area, were struggling to find a suitable site when the idea of using some of the land that surrounds the centre was mooted. It was thought that the area between the burn and the road beyond the entrance footpath, which was completely overgrown with willow, rhododendron and brambles, might be a possibility.
A group of the gardening steering committee took a closer look and realised that the potential area, once some significant clearing had been done, was actually quite large. Its location - just a short walking distance from the centre of the village and from the school, with parking, access to water and toilet in the Centre and its very visible location right beside the road - seemed to check most of the boxes for the perfect site for a community garden.
An agreement between South West Mull and Iona Development on behalf of the Community Garden and RoMHC was drawn up with special attention to ensuring safety for both garden volunteers and Centre staff and future visitors with respect to Covid-19. In late August work started on clearing the land with an initial chainsaw operation on some of the biggest willows. Then every week since, there have been two sessions open to volunteers to do the very tough and exhausting work of cutting back the willow, bramble and rhododendron thicket.
As of writing, we finally reached the boundary fence with the realisation that we did indeed have quite a large space to work with in designing the garden. We have left some of the mature trees – mostly birch, rowan and sycamore - most of which are on the north side of the plot and will trim back some of the lower branches of all the remaining trees to bring in more light. There is still a lot of heavy work to do: chipping all the branches, removing roots, moving rocks and leveling, but it is exciting to see the progress and be able to start to visualize the possibilities.
We have already received some grant money from the Argyll and Bute Supporting Communities Fund to purchase tools and pay for experienced gardeners to lead the volunteer sessions. Applications are also in for grants to pay for a poly-tunnel, materials for a shelter, raised beds and compost bins and to pay for a part time worker.
The location of the garden, beside the burn and with so many mature trees, makes for a very pleasant spot to visit. We plan to encourage visitors with a welcoming design of paths, seating and some shelter along with beds with vegetables, flowers, fruit bushes and fruit trees as well as a small tree nursery.
The poly-tunnel will become a community resource and should be valuable to those already with gardens but needing a warm light spot to get seeds started. Likewise, we hope the garden as a whole will be used by the local community and can be adapted to fit local needs. We are hoping that more local residents will become involved as the project progresses and that the garden will become an exciting hub in the community.
Already, with the clearing that has been done, the Historical Centre is now much more visible from the road. The garden will provide a welcoming draw, bringing more visitors to check out the Centre itself. Hopefully in the future there will be the possibility of events involving both places making each richer as a result.
It is a win-win for both RoMHC and The Ross of Mull Community Garden.
Member of the Ross of Mull Community Garden and trustee of RoMHC