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Hortus Homicida – breaking news

On the morning of February 10, 1567, the bodies of Henry Stuart aka Lord Darnley, and his valet William Taylor were found dead orchard of Kirk O Field in Edinburgh, which is located where modern-day Old College of the University of Edinburgh now sits, near the National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street.

The mystery has never been solved, but it has inspired our Garden Design students to produce another show garden for Gardening Scotland 2017 based around the events.


The 2016 Garden Design students scooped the top prize at Gardening Scotland for their Hive Jive Show Garden.

As a follow-up to their 2016 teaser video, the team produce a “News Report” on the scene:

The idea behind the garden came from mature student Heath Urquhart (40) who left his farm in New Zealand in 2015 to pursue his dream of working in horticulture by studying at SRUC. After arriving in Edinburgh he learnt about the murder at the National Museum of Scotland and it captured his imagination.

Francesco and Heath pose in grounds of the Kings Buildings in Edinburgh,

Francesco Mari, dressed as the mysterious figure, and Heath Urquhart.

Heath said: “We want to create a garden that evokes the romantic air of a monastic orchard during the time of Scotland’s’ greatest Queen. A slice of time that has charm mixed with intrigue, suspicion and mystery.”

The students have recently started preparing the garden with help from Binny Plants in West Lothian and over the next few months they will be making their design a reality.

The Garden Design students posing at the Kings Buildings in Edinburgh

The team of international students; back: Heath Urquhart (New Zealand), Adam Pochyla (Czech Republic), Conor Thomas (England), Francesco Mari (Italy). Front; Georgina Bennett (Ireland), Veronika Svatosova: (Czech Republic), Kittiya Punyasang-Walton (Thailand).

Heath added: “All of the plants on display will have hidden meanings and visitors will be challenged to solve Cludeo-like puzzles, giving the garden an educational element as well.”

The national Gardening Scotland event will be held on Edinburgh’s Ingliston Showground from Friday 2 until Sunday 4 June and the students will hope to follow in the footsteps of the last year’s SRUC Bee Garden which won a gold medal.

The garden will first be constructed and finished at SRUC’s Edinburgh campus before being dismantled for reassembly and planting up at the Showground, ready for the Gardening Scotland judges.

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