Signs, Seeds and Woods


There were two complimentary strands to the project, which will be referred to as:
•The Himalayan Garden (Project A).
•BSL Botanical Vocabulary (Project B).

Many of the individuals involved in the delivery of these projects are experts in their chosen field(s) of study (arts, science, environment) and have a personal interest/background which spans across both projects. So whilst at first glance Projects A and B may seem divergent and will ultimately progress in different directions, there is a continuity and synergy that was realised, by combing the two projects into a one day event.

The project was managed by Lindsay Snedden (Lunaria Ltd) and the Community Coordinator was Joanna Boyce (Creative Art Works). Project design and delivery was led by both Joanna and Lindsay with input from other professionals, volunteers, academic institutions and community groups as listed below.

Project A – The Himalayan Garden

A previous FCS funded project (Ban Ra Vataravan) involved the construction of a stone built raised flower/plant bed intended to contain a selection of Himalayan plants. This was very successful and involved capturing expert knowledge which resulted in the construction of a raised flower bed, and consequently the project required an additional and ongoing commitment to see it through to fruition. The groups involved in the original project included:

  • Central Scotland Deaf Community (CSDC)
  • Edinburgh Nepalese Community
  • Nepal Scotland Association
  • Gurkha Association Scotland
  • Royal Botanical Gardens, Edinburgh
  • City of Edinburgh Natural Heritage Service

Several of the groups and individuals that participated in the previous project expressed a desire to see the work continued and were keen to be involved again. New organisations that expressed an interest and participated were: • The Himalayan Centre of Arts and Culture, Edinburgh
Women and families from Edinburgh’s Bangladeshi and Indian communities recruited via MEHIS (Minority Ethnic Health Inclusion Service)
Whilst the focus of the day was to continue the work on The Himalayan Garden it was proposed to provide other activities such as “pond dipping”, mini-beast spotting and “nature inspired art activities” for the families and friends of those actively engaged in planting etc. As this was be a “shared” day we anticipated a high degree of interaction with the participants (and their families) involved in Project B.

Project B – BSL Botanical Vocabulary

At present BSL (British Sign Language) has only a limited number of signs relating to commonly used botanical words, phrases and concepts. This strand of the project was intended to provide a “pilot” which would look to expand this vocabulary by creating new signs. In addition the findings of the pilot project would be used as the basis for putting together a more expansive funding proposal (to be submitted to FCS) which would look to extend upon and formalise what has been achieved to date. The new signs will be used in schools, colleges and universities. Examination boards such as SQA can utilise the new signs for their exams/tests because the signs will be listed in the Scottish Sensory Centre’s BSL glossary at Edinburgh University.
The project will directly contribute to official recognition of deaf education. It will have a big impact on the Central Edinburgh Deaf Community and beyond.

The translation/interpreting training/education aspect of this project is vital. The Deaf Community is viewing FCS in a very positive light and many are barriers are being broken down. The Deaf Community have expressed huge interest in promoting work within the woodlands.
As part of this overall proposal we facilitated an initial consultation meeting to discuss the strategy for carrying forward this work. The meeting was attended, and supported, by academics and scientific experts from (but not limited to) the following:

  • Royal Botanical Gardens Edinburgh (RBGE),
  • Edinburgh University (UoE)
  • Napier University
  • Central Scotland Deaf Community (CSDC)
  • Deaf Action
  • Artiscience Library

Recommendations and Action Plan

Our full recommendations and a proposed action plan will form the basis of a costed funding proposal, which will produced as a separate document and presented to FCS for consideration. Submission of the proposal will mark the completion of this project.

In addition to this we have some general recommendations regarding engagement with the Deaf Community. These recommendations are based on experience gained via the project by both hearing and deaf participants..

  • Communication is a big challenge faced by the Deaf Community and we found this to be a barrier in a range of situations during phase one of the project. It’s of utmost importance that to have deaf people’s experience and perspective at top level when creating a proposal for a project aimed at the Deaf Community and ensuring this through:
  • Ensuring that all hearing people involved in project facilitation participate in a deaf inclusion and awareness programme. It was a truly insightful and enriching experience for all who attended and we were able to learn about different challenges and discrimination faced by deaf individuals and the Deaf Community on a daily basis, and how people are working towards eliminating these barriers, fighting discrimination and empowering the Deaf Community.
  • Managed time with deaf representatives and BSL interpreters around the table at the planning stage
  • Involving deaf professionals and Deaf Community representatives in the project design and facilitation.
  • Tapping into existing services for Deaf people such as deaf Action and their Youth Group.
  • On going Deaf Community consultation and updates.
  • Creating a robust platform for disseminating information through the community using Facebook, Twitter and other forms of e-communication.

For a full description of this project visit the reports page to download

Example Feedback

Little did we know how this project would take off in such a way and has proven to be full of surprises

The enthusiasm and positive energy of all the participants have brought the garden to life and visitors to the Hermitage could not resist coming in and get involved in the various activities

It was a great day, with a great cultural mix allowing all to gain something from the days activity

Have told quite a few people about the project. It was such a lovely generous sharing environment

Downloads and links

Project Report (pdf 1.3mb)