Inverbervie community garden celebrates major milestone

A neglected north-east manse garden that was transformed into a thriving community space featuring a model lighthouse is celebrating a "significant milestone" this weekend.

Brighter Bervie gardeners
Brighter Bervie members(from left) Phyllis Bisset, Mary Finch, Jim Gillbanks and Michael Bingham in the garden preparing to spruce it up for visitors arriving this Saturday

Volunteers in Inverbervie are hosting a "birthday party" on Saturday to mark the success of the Voyage of Life project, which opened a year ago and was featured on the BBC's Beechgrove Garden programme.

More than 2,500 people, including visitors from the USA and Germany, have visited the walled garden beside Bervie Parish Church on King Street in the last 12 months.

Overseas visitors

The event, which is being held between 2pm-4pm, will feature live music, poetry reading, a quiz, children's treasure hunt, raffle, teas and a bring-your-own-barbeque.

Entry is free but donations to support ongoing work being carried out by the community group behind the project, Brighter Bervie, will be gratefully received.

Tom Campbell, chairman of Brighter Bervie, said: "The public response in the last 12 months has been extremely favourable and a lot of people are really enjoying and appreciating the garden.

"Locals are using it as a nice, quiet, reflective space and we are getting visitors in from all the airts and pairts.

"We see the garden very much as an outreach from Bervie Parish Church and although it is a walled garden, it is very much in the spirit of ‘Church Without Walls’ because we are taking our church into the open.

"The two German couples I showed round the garden recently asked to see inside the church".

The Bervie Garden
Another view of the Bervie community garden showing the lighthouse and the fishermen's nets that represent the town's relationship with the sea.

Beechgrove Garden

Mr Campbell said the anniversary was a "significant milestone" and Brighter Bervie hoped that the garden would be used for entertainment events on a regular basis in the future.

Asked about future plans for the space, he added: "A garden is like a dog for Christmas, it is for life.

"We are maintaining it and have to make some finishing touches to it.

"The Beechgrove Garden team are coming back next year - two years after it was planted - to see how it has been matured and developed."

The garden was designed by Julian Dowle, a nationally recognised designer who has won won multiple gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show, and reflects Bervie's close connection with the sea.

Voyage of Life

Describing the theme at the opening last year, Mr Campbell said: "When people walk round the garden they begin with a launch - a slipway, moving into an outfitting basin before they leave safety and head out into the sea to negotiate the rocks and waves.

"All the time they are guided by the sculpture of a lighthouse before they make it to the harbour at the end.

"We hope it'll make people think of their own voyage in life, where they are going and who is guiding them through it."

The Very Rev Dr Angus Morrison, who was Moderator of the General Assembly in 2015-16, paid a visit to the garden in February.