Community Feedback: The Vision to Restore the Garden

In the autumn this year, we invited community feedback for the vision to restore Aros Park Historic Walled Garden, via an article in Round and About, a survey and stall at the September Tobermory Producer’s Market, and a survey circulated online, so that local people could continue to shape the future of this wonderful space on the edge of Tobermory.

Aros Park Walled Garden

Aros Park Walled Garden

Restoring the garden

We aim to restore the long-overgrown walled garden at Aros Park, breathing new life into the garden and benefits into the community. We want to create an accessible-for-all garden that cultivates skills, nurtures minds and enables people to grow together in a garden that is as diverse in visitors as it is in planting, rooted in local history.

In 2018, the community consultation begun, and while work was paused owing to the covid-19 pandemic in 2020, we’re back into action once more, committed to reclaiming the garden from the forest and returning people to its heart. In 2021, having formed a vision based on ideas suggested in 2018, we asked the local community what they thought.

The process began with a series of posters in the window display for the local Tobermory Co-operative on the Main Street from August to September, where the garden has also been supported as a Local Cause in 2021.

We also published an article in the local Round & About magazine September 2021 edition outlining our vision and inviting feedback and attendance at our next community event, and updated the Facebook page for Aros Park Historic Walled Garden to share our ideas.

It was originally hoped that the community event mentioned in Round & About may be a gathering reminiscent of what will one-day be possible in the garden, as a venue for community events, live music and the arts, among other uses, but with rising covid-19 cases in Scotland, it was decided a safer alternative would be to take a stall at the well-supported weekly producer’s market on the Tobermory Pontoons on Monday 27th September, from 11am to 2pm.

Planting plan for Aros Park Historic Walled Garden restoration

The vision for the garden

Community feedback on the vision

We were hugely cheered by the response to the vision for restoring Aros Park Walled Garden, with respondents to both in-person and online surveys overwhelmingly in favour of the project. It was very encouraging to confirm that the garden we seek to restore and re-create for the community is the garden that the local people of Mull want.

At the Tobermory Producer’s Market in September, the local community and visitors to the island were invited to provide their feedback to the vision via a questionnaire, to help us ascertain community approval and test the viability of our ideas and proposed revenue streams. 25 responses were collected, with the outcome as follows:

Age Range
18-30      4
31-50      5
51-70    12
70+          4

Residency
Yes        21
No          4

Comment on our vision
Excellent  9
Great        6
Good        10
Poor          0

Prepared to visit the garden
Regularly         12
Occasionally   13

Attendance at workshops etc
Most                    5
Some                   16
Occasionally       4

Financial support for the garden
Annual fee      1
Donation         11
Friends club    13

The questionnaire was also circulated online, via the Aros Park Historic Walled Garden website, Facebook page, and sharing to local community Facebook groups, including ‘Mull: Help and Information’ and ‘Everything Mull’ to reach as wide a range of the community as possible, both on and offline and the feedback was very similar with 24 of 27 replies strongly in support of the vision for the garden.

Furthermore, 96% of respondents said they would like to visit the garden for community events, while 77% were interested in skills-based workshops in the garden. There was also strong support for voluntary garden donations in place of a set admission fee, ensuring the garden remains open to all regardless of disposable income, with 67% of respondents supporting this, and 55% of respondents also indicating they would be willing to support the garden via a paid ‘Friends of’ membership scheme.

Community feedback and involvement is at the heart of the garden

If you would like to find out more about the garden, help shape plans or simply lend a spade as a volunteer, please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.

AROS plans