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  • Emily Jarvie

Exciting Changes to Green Sites Around St Andrews from Hunor Deak

The editorial team at In Focus magazine would like thank contributor Hunor Deak for consistently providing our readers quality updates on the many sites around St Andrews at which he regularly volunteers. These updates are of great value to St Andrews locals and provide helpful insights into these ever-changing green sites that are now of greater environmental importance than ever before.

I volunteer at various sites around St Andrews, three of which are currently undergoing a lot of exciting changes. I would like to provide readers of In Focus with some insight into these changes. The Botanic Garden is building a brand new space called the Meanwhile Garden, the Community Garden at the Eco Hub has started planting again, and Green Shores has returned to their polytunnel at the golf course and have also ventured out onto the mudflats of Eden Estuary. All three of these changes were in full swing in time for spring and these sites are now looking forward to their summer activities, in which you can take part!

New Developments at St Andrews Botanic Garden

What is the Botanic Garden?

The gardens are a lovely site in the middle of St Andrews. Tucked away between Lade Braes and the house development at Canongate, with a convenient car park and a lovely little café, it is a great afternoon out. The site is made up of a large variety of environments of woodland, rock gardens, a pond with swamp plants, wild meadows, sand dunes, teaching plots and a climbing garden. New developments are also currently underway. Read more at:

What is currently happening?

The Botanic Garden is building a new area inspired by the theme of dead hedges, insects, butterflies, and the decay of fallen forest logs. It aims to highlight how British wildlife interacts with logs, branches, leaves, and other dead material in our natural environment. The area will be fully walkable, allowing visitors to explore! Between the hedges and the rock gardens, there will be dozens of species of native wildflowers, and it will also feature boat-shaped planters, honouring the maritime heritage of St Andrews, and Fife more widely. It aims to be a 3D space that combines research and human senses and can be enjoyed all summer!

How can you help?

The teams at the Botanic Garden needs a lot of help! There are always plenty of things to fo all year round, so we have lots of volunteering opportunities to offer anyone who might like to get involved:

  • Gardening sessions on Wednesdays and Thursdays

  • "Plant your Piece" mental health gardening

  • Assisting with biodiversity monitoring projects

  • Providing welcome information and directions during events

  • Harvesting produce and processing wheat and flax

  • Supporting our toddler group by engaging with participating families

  • Wrapping gifts to be delivered by our Christmas Fairy

  • Writing blogs or articles for our newsletter

The Community Garden at the Eco Hub is Up and Running!

What is the Community Garden and where is it?

The Community Garden is part of the Eco Hub (Kinnessburn Road), which is part of the St Andrews Environmentl Network. Previously a dumping ground, this site is now a thriving green space with a hedgehog house, wildlife area, pond area, community garden, plots (including wheelchair friendly potting and planting boxes), and even an event space. The garden is located directly behind the Eco Hub, nestled between the surrounding houses.

What is currently happening?

We have an entire new year's worth of gardening ahead of us, with big plans for the garden! The aim of the garden is to teach and to prove that anyone can be a gardener. We will be doing things like growing carrots and potatoes, and we look forward to welcoming guest speakers who will cover general nature topics such as birdwatching and the local squirrel population. We're also very happy to provide all the equipment you might need - from tools and gloves, right down to the seeds. The Eco Hub also benefits from an accessible toilet and a wheelchair friendly kitchen space.

Getting involved in the Community Garden is a great access point into a life of gardening - and the summer activities are especially enjoyable!

How can you help?

We are currently running Thursday gardening sessions from 1pm until 2:30pm at the Hub. Everyone is welcome to join! Read more on the St Andrews Environmental Network Facebook page or website:

Planting Salt Marshes with Green Shores

What are Salt Marshes?

Salt marshes are an extreme environment in the tidal zone between the land and the sea. Made up of several types of grasses, such as Sea Club Rush (Bolboschoenus Maritimus) and Eelgrass (Z. Marina), they stabilise the sand and enable vast mudflats to exist, providing a habitat for countless birds, both local and migratory. They also act as a carbon store. Sadly, the impact of pollution, climate change and past human activity has heavily damaged these systems.

What is "Green Shores"?

Green Shores was set up to reverse the aforementioned erosion by restoring the salt marshes, monitoring their health and conducting the necessary science around this unique ecosystem. Currently it focuses on collecting pre-existing species from the coast and growing more of them in a polytunnel located at the golf course. More planting is being planned through the summer months. The project currently covers the following areas: Dornoch Firth, the Tay Estuary and the Eden Estuary.

What is currently happening?

I have been involved in a variety of tasks with Green Shores recently. I assisted in the propagation and re-planting of grass collected last year, took part in beach cleans to keep the marshes as clean as possible, helped to collect mud samples from around the Eden Estuary and played a part in the collection of grasses from the mudflats at Guardbridge, replanting them at the Moray reservoir. All of this was made possible throughout collaboration with students from the University of St Andrews and other local volunteers. Green Shores present a fantastic opportunity to lean about coastal ecosystems and how important plants are in holding together our beaches.

If you would like to see some of the results of our exciting and important activities, you can follow us on Instagram: @greenshores1

The West Sands Ranger Service and Beach Cleans

The West Sands and the golf course have their own ranger service! They work so hard to maintain the beach, provide help for Green Shores and to keep everyone safe. A major problem they have faced is littering and old rubbish being washed in from the sea after major storms. They deeply appreciate all the help they can get when conducting a beach clean. Information about monthly beach cleans can be found on the West Sands Ranger Service Facebook page.

How can you help?

Green Shores at the golf course polytunnel have a wide variety of activities for you to get involved in. Their two main focuses this year are plant propagation in the polytunnel and planting grasses out onto the mudflats around town and in the wider Tay Estuary.

The team running the projects can be contacted via email:

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