Craig Finlay’s award-winning work

HBGBS trainee Craig Finlay

Following a successful year at Branklyn Gardens, the work that HBGBS trainee Craig Finlay carried out led to a Pitlochry in Bloom Award. Here he talks about overhauling a care home garden.

“After completing my HBGBS placement at Branklyn Garden in Perth at the end of 2008, I found a job as a gardener with Balhousie Care Group, who operate a chain of 20 care homes. My job is to maintain 10 of these homes and improve the gardens which are in need of development.

One of these homes, Pitlochry, was the first myself and my colleague worked on. As you approached the home the garden looked messy with a mass of young shrubs planted too closely and in no order. The bark on the ground made the North facing garden look dark and bleak, and management were commenting that the entrance to the home was unclear.

We re-arranged the plants, taking most away and using them elsewhere, lifted the bark and replaced it with a lighter coloured gravel, and planted small grasses along the path leading to the front door. I also placed hanging baskets here, and pots- choosing blue to fit in with the building. 2 pots were placed at either side of the front door, so now there should be no confusion about where the entrance is.

The front of the building is now cleaner, and gives a better impression to visitors and passers by. The shrubs, trees and perennials have been planted to allow them to grow and fill out, without impeding resident’s views.

Work was also done in the dementia garden to introduce more colour and more birds in order to enhance resident’s enjoyment. Herbs, rhubarb, apple and pear trees were planted for the kitchen to use.

The garden is now in place and is receiving good feedback from people. Last month it was awarded 2 silver awards at Pitlochry in Bloom; 1 for the Commercial section and 1 for the Container section. I was pleased with this – especially as Pitlochry in Bloom were Gold Award winners in 2009’s Britain in Bloom – and was glad that the hard work paid off.

I have realised that it is worthwhile entering gardens into competitions as you never know – you might just win something!”