Susan Burns, Volunteer Open Garden

Volunteers' week

Garden Organic Member, Susan Burns, has been opening her Edinburgh garden as a volunteer for Garden Organic since 1998, raising more than £1,800 in donations for Garden Organic.

Susan’s interest in organic growing began after being inspired by the late Geoff Hamilton. “I became very concerned about the impact of using pesticides after listening to Geoff Hamilton on Gardeners’ World in the 1970s. I was married with a young family at the time, so I was particularly concerned about the affect these could have on the health of our children.” says Susan, “So, I decided to start growing our own organic fruit and veg. I didn’t have much of an idea about organic growing when I started, so I went to the library and took out twelve books and began by growing just five tomato plants.”

Before long Susan and husband, Mike, found themselves needing a bigger garden to accommodate their expanding plot. So, in 1987 Susan, husband Mike and children Jennifer (8) and Daniel (6) moved to their current house in Edinburgh – and their dream garden.

Susan continues: “The most important thing for us when we moved was to find a house with a big garden and we found this one, it’s half-an-acre, so we began by dividing it into manageable sections. Since then the garden has evolved and we now have ten small gardens which now include: a kitchen garden, an orchard, herbaceous borders, pond, two children’s gardens for our grandchildren, a tropical section, seating areas and a secret garden. The secret garden is very secret – so much so, I have to point it out to people! It’s a homage to my late Mum and includes a tiny pond, a statue, a phlox and an iris from my mum’s garden.”

“I’ve come a long way from growing those five tomatoes plants – over time I’ve grown sixty different varieties of tomatoes, including some Heritage Seed Library varieties. I use them according to their flavour, some are sharp, some sweet and there’s even one which tastes of strawberries. I now grow everything I can for us to eat“.

Susan proudly opened her garden to the public for the first time in 1998 and loves sharing advice and tips with visitors:

I’m passionate about organic gardening and wanted to encourage others to garden in a more natural way and it’s also a great opportunity to highlight the work of Garden Organic. I love enthusing others by showing them how generous nature is, when we work in harmony with it and as my friends will tell you I can talk about gardens all day long!

If you’d like to find the hidden secret garden, Susan and Mike will be opening their garden at 39 Nantwich Drive, Edinburgh to the public on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th August from 2pm to 5pm each day.

If Susan has inspired you to open your garden for Garden Organic, you can find out more here.