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Gold for Hortus Homicida

Garden Design students have excelled themselves with their creativity and imagination as their mysterious “murder garden” won a Gold Award at Gardening Scotland.

Their Tudor themed show garden “Hortus Homicida” was designed and created by 2nd year students at SRUC’s Edinburgh campus and was competing with seven gardens showcasing the very best of Scottish garden design.

The garden commemorates the 450th anniversary of one of Scotland’s most infamous unresolved crimes: the murder of Lord Darnley the husband of Mary Queen of Scots.

The students’ entry aims to create a romanticised version of a monastic garden to represent where Lord Darnley’s body was found. They used native breeds that would have been around at the time and plants with specific meanings to emphasise the story behind their garden.

To bring the display to life students dressed in historic outfits to present the garden and guide people through an interactive Cluedo-like game giving them a chance to try and solve the mystery.

The eight students, from seven different countries, have been prepping the garden since the beginning of the year and have also gone on historical visits to learn more about the story behind the garden – including a visit to the Edinburgh University Anatomical Museum to visit Lord Darnley’s skull.

The idea behind the garden came from mature student Heath Urquhart who left his farm in New Zealand in 2015 to pursue his dream of working in horticulture by studying at SRUC.

Heath said:

“We are thrilled to have won the top prize possible! It has been an amazing week finally building the garden and seeing our ideas come to life. It has been a great team effort and we have all learnt a huge amount from the process.

“We want to use the garden to teach people about a moment that changed Scottish history and Gardening Scotland is a great platform for us with over 30,000 visitors expected. We are looking forward to sharing the story behind our garden with people over the weekend.”

SRUC Garden Design students pose with their gold certificate

L-R: Connor, Heath and Veronika pose in the show garden with their Gold Certificate from Gardening Scotland

Students and staff from SRUC’s Oatridge campus are also playing an important role at Gardening Scotland. They have helped set up, run and put entries into the Pallet and Planter Garden Competition and supported the dressing of the main Floral Hall. They will also be running workshops on hard landscaping and the Japanese art of Kokedama. Four students will also be entering the World Skills Landscape Competition.

David James, Head of Education, said:

“I would like to congratulate our garden design students on their innovative, exciting and unique show garden. The students have worked extremely hard and I am delighted to hear of their Gold Award. It is a fantastic achievement and is testament to the high quality horticulture and garden design courses available at SRUC.

“It is great to see the range of activities on display at Gardening Scotland from staff and students from across SRUC’s campuses.”

You can learn all about the garden from it initial inception to fruition in our video series:



[…] special garden this year, and by far my favourite garden, was the Hortus Homicida garden developed by second year students at Scotland’s Rural College. The garden reimagined the […]

Pingback by Blue poppies shine at Gardening Scotland – The Guardian (blog) | Patio easy on June 8, 2017 at 1:18 pm

Thank you for mentioning us. We and the garden design team are delighted that you enjoyed our garden this year and that you thought so highly of it!

Comment by Rich Gordon on June 13, 2017 at 8:39 am

[…] jardín especial de este año, y por mucho, mi favorito jardín, fue el Hortus Homicida jardín desarrollado por estudiantes de segundo año en la Escocia Rural de la Universidad. El […]


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