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The historic grounds of Lauriston Castle are now a focus for celebrating international links between Edinburgh and the world, as a series of dedicated friendship gardens is set to grow.
The much-loved and visited Japanese Garden has been in place for three years and an Italian-style garden in the grounds is to be restored and extended by summer 2007.
The Italian Garden will commemorate the twinning agreement between Edinburgh and Florence, signed in 1964, and the recent agreement between the Scottish Executive and the Tuscan Region signed in 2002.
It follows the successful introduction of the Japanese Friendship Garden which celebrates the mutual ties of friendship between Edinburgh and Kyoto Prefecture.
It is now considered one of the top three Japanese gardens in the UK.
Edinburgh has not escaped the surge in popularity gardening has enjoyed in recent years.
The waiting list for the 1,236 Council-managed plots across 21 allotment sites increased by one third from 600 to nearly 900 in 2005.
A new allotment site at Bridgend will open this spring.
With 58 plots, the site will be under organic cultivation and feature a special project set up with NHS Lothian to offer gardening as a health improvement opportunity to local patients.
A number of plots will be designed for full accessibility and there will also be a demonstration garden run by the Royal Caledonian Society.
The Council is committed to upholding allotment gardening’s special position in the city, and this protection is strongly reinforced by planning policy.
The Edinburgh Allotments Strategy, adopted in 2002, provides the blueprint for sustainable and successful management of the service.
Edinburgh is involved in a national pilot project in ‘placemaking’ – creating and sustaining vibrant public places that enhance local communities.
An essential part of this process is directly involving communities themselves.
In partnership with Greenspace Scotland and US group, Project for Public Spaces, the Council is developing placemaking projects at Hailes Quarry Park, Colinton Mains Park and Princes Street Gardens.
Working with communities to improve their green spaces is at the heart of our approach.
All work on these three projects is being done in consultation with the relevant community groups. The local residents and users will see the benefits unfold over the next 12 months.
Did you know that Ravelston Park, Blackhall is a national award winning play area? The area was presented with the Nancy Ovens Trust Award for Communities in 2005.
Most people in Edinburgh are familiar with the play area closest to their home or school. Citywide, however, the Council owns 163 play areas.
Many parks, like Saughton, have a range of equipment and activities to occupy all ages, while others target specific age groups.
They include the teen area at Inch Park and an oasis for younger children at Joppa Quarry Park.
The Parks Team is responsible for the play areas and is involved in a long-term refurbishment across the city. During 2006 Broughton Road, Redhall Park, White Park, Gorgie and Lochend Park will be refurbished. A new ‘magnet’ play area will be set up at the Meadows. This involves creating such a fantastic play area that it will attract children and teens from around the area. Young people and local schools are being consulted about the design and are encouraged to take ownership and reduce antisocial behaviour.