A Guide To Starbank Park

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Starbank Park is a colourful park which offers vast views of the Firth of Forth over to The Kingdom from Newhaven. With its very loved gardens, a visit is well worth it when in the Newhaven and Leith area. We spoke to Janet from the Friends of Starbank Park who passionately shared the story of this popular community garden.

Starbank Park History

Starbank Park has been a public space since the late nineteenth century when the old Leith Town Council bought the classical, two-storied Starbank House and its grounds, including a cultivated Victorian rose garden.

Starbank House was built in 1815 and belonged originally to Alexander Goalen. It was later turned into a museum but that is not the case today.

Goalen was the uncle of the Victorian Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone.

The garden was a place where courting couples came to chat and look at the views.

Today, while there is upkeep from the council, the gardens are mostly cared for by volunteers at the Friends of Starbank Gardens.

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Starbank Park Gardens

The 2.7 acres of Starbank Park is popular with locals for its views over to The Kingdom of Fife and tranquil setting off the A9001, Starbank Road, to the west of Newhaven Harbour.

There are three access points to the park.

Two pedestrian gates off Starbank Road and one with wheelchair and pram/pushchair access at Laverockbank Road.

There is a distinctive flower bed shaped like an eight-pointed star. Some say this represents a seafaring compass, a nod to the long history of navigation by sailors from this area of Edinburgh.

Around April 20th is when Starbank Park turns to pink with its cherry blossoms in bloom. Read about the prettiest cherry blossom locations in the city here.

If you visit the park or follow the Facebook page you will be well aware that Starbank Park is well looked after and done so with a lot of love.

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Starbank Park Community

Friends of Starbank Park host regular maintenance sessions which take place two times per week to ensure that the park is kept looking clean and beautiful.

Tasks are scheduled weekly to tackle the seasonal needs and volunteers document their ongoing work and share it on the Friends Facebook and Twitter account.

This input from volunteers has seen many of the borders return to their original shapes and the introduction of new composting facilities.

Volunteers have also planted new trees, herbs, fruit trees, shrubs, ferns, herbaceous plants and bedding plants.

The work of the Friends extends and supports the more limited maintenance that the Council now delivers and, together, they are making a huge difference.

Starbank Park Entry Sign

A Modern Garden In Edinburgh

Friends of Starbank Park have very firmly adopted an entirely organic approach to their gardening and ensure recycling and reuse of all materials is carried out.

Bee-friendly and butterfly-friendly planting and maintenance is an important consideration.

This is a community-led change to the way Starbank Park is maintained which was instigated by the Friends group.

There is also a Hans Christian Anderson-inspired nature trail which features some of the author’s most loved characters, including the Little Mermaid. This trail was made with help from Victoria Primary School.

Friends of Starbank Park

The Friends of Starbank Park group was formed by two residents, Janet McArthur and Alastair Robertson, in 2013.

From the outset, they were keen to involve all sections of the local community in caring for the park.

The group evolved organically when locals in the community connected through social media and through working together on other volunteer groups.

There is no local community centre but over time, as the park developed, the team converted a small bothy into a community space and in some ways now the park has become a hub of the local community.

The park holds a fondness in many people’s hearts as a place to come together, chat, walk and enjoy the peace and views of the garden.

Starbank Park Bench and Flower Star

Starbank Park Events

The team also delivers a calendar of events to get the local community out into the park and celebrate with their neighbours.

A very popular Easter Egg Hunt attracted around 800 people to the park and a well-attended Halloween party extends the season well into autumn.

There’s a popular wreath-making course using festive local foliage.

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Starbank Park Gardens Roses_

Awards

Starbank Park was awarded the Best Neighbourhood Park award in the Horticulture Week Custodian Awards 2018.

Janet says:

Our secret to our success as a group is that we all love our park and work together to improve and make the garden a beautiful space to be enjoyed by the whole community.

Stan Dunlop, one of the founding members and beloved gardener always called Starbank Park “The garden of Eden”.

Starbank Park Facilities

  • Colourful and well-maintained gardens
  • Cherry blossom trees
  • Panoramic views
  • Community Bothy
  • Free Library
  • Nature Trail
  • Public toilet
  • Benches

Starbank Park can be accessed by wheelchair users and families with prams/pushchairs at the Laverockbank Road entrance of the park.

Starbank Park Newhaven Edinburgh boat with plants_

A Starbank Surprise

If plants aren’t your thing (who are you?) then you might be interested to hear that Starbank is home to one of the world’s smallest libraries!
The tardis-shaped free book store is part of the wider free libraries scheme in Edinburgh.

Starbank Park Library

Final Words

I hope you are beaming from ear to ear reading this guide to Starbank Park? Thanks to Janet’s enthusiasm, it was an absolute joy to put this together to help promote the work of the Friends of Starbank Park. Like this article? Check out our guide to Princes Street Gardens.

Please share your Starbank Park images in our free Everything Edinburgh Facebook group.

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