The Neighbouring Orchard

Annie Lord

2021-2024 Planting Trees

The Neighbouring Orchard is a living artwork by Annie Lord of 160 apple trees planted across coastal Edinburgh and East Lothian, now in the process of extending to areas within Craigentinny.

Created by artist Annie Lord The Neighbouring Orchard project began in 2021 involving the planting of apple trees in local front and shared gardens across Portobello, Craigmillar and Musselburgh, with plans to extend into Craigentinny in 2024.


Additional support from The Mushroom Trust in 2023 is enabling us to now extend the project to areas of Craigentinny, Restalrig and Lochend with further trees available for planting in early 2024. Please email if you live or work in the area and would like to receive a tree. We’re keen to hear from both residents and community groups interested in planting a tree. Full details here

Read Recent Press:
Edinburgh project to turn neighbourhood into orchard‘ The Herald, 1 Dec 2023
Apple tree growers wanted for Edinburgh’s community orchard with a difference‘ Edinburgh Evening News, 30 Nov 2023

The Neighbouring Orchard project offered young apple trees to households across Portobello, Musselburgh and Craigmillar, providing the possibility of apple harvests in years to come. With this project starting at a time of physical distance from each other, during the pandemic, we looked to plant trees as a way to forge links with people in neighbouring streets and suburbs. This individually planted, socially distant orchard is rooted in community and as the trees grow, bud, blossom and fruit we look forward to a time when we can enjoy the harvests.

The trees are planted in front gardens or shared gardens, ensuring that they are visible to the wider community, acting as markers for people on daily walks, seen from bus windows and from other household’s windows.

The apple varieties offered each have a historic link to the area, having previously been grown in local orchards in the 19th century. Most apple trees need to have different varieties of apple trees nearby in order to be pollinated. The Neighbouring Orchard trees will form a network across individual gardens, linked together by bees and other pollinators who will fly between them.

The project was supported initially by funding from the National Lottery Awards for All Fund. In 2021 further funding from Creative Scotland and Musselburgh Common Good Fund (East Lothian Council) was received to further develop the project, with in 2022 the publishing of The Neighbouring Orchard publication including interviews with a number of the growers.

During 2023 a series of Walking Maps were started to be produced, which we plan to add to over time. Designed by artist David Lemm, with illustrations and text by Annie Lord, they detail locations of a number of the planted trees encouraging walking between. Copies of the maps are available in local libraries, or if you wish to receive a copy posted to you please email

Growing Tips | Useful Links for growers

Pruning – The Orchard Project is a great resource to learn everything you need to know about caring for your apple tree. Their overview of pruning is very clear and easy to understand.

This short video shows you how to prune a one year maiden tree:

And this video shows the pruning of a two year tree:

The most important thing to remember about pruning is that it should be done in the winter and you should cut the branches with a sharp pair of secateurs to avoid damaging the wood. Pruning encourages strong growth but it’s worth bearing in mind that unpruned trees will carry on growing just fine – they just might not be as productive.

Pollination – Apple trees are pollinated by bees and insects. Most apple trees are not self fertile and so need to be close enough to other varieties of apple which will cross pollinate them. The other trees in The Neighbouring Orchard will act as these cross pollinators – helping your tree to set fruit.

Mulch – Mulching is a way of providing important nutrients to your tree as well as helping it to retain moisture. It’s particularly important in the first couple of years when the tree is becoming established. To do this add a layer of either compost, leaf mould or wood chip in a ring around your tree, keeping it clear from the trunk to avoid rot. Here are The Orchard Project talking about the joys of mulch!

Diseases and Problems – Apple trees are sturdy but here is a link on how to deal with potential problems. Most are easily dealt with without the need for any specialist supplies. The key ones to look out for are scab and canker which can be more common in damp environments.

Download planting guide (pdf) 

Notes on Pruning (following John Hancox workshop) (pdf)

Recent Press

The Herald:
‘Edinburgh project to turn neighbourhood into orchard‘ 1 Dec 2023
Read here

Edinburgh Evening News:
‘Apple tree growers wanted for Edinburgh’s community orchard with a difference‘ 30 Nov 2023
Read here

The Neighbouring Orchard by Annie Lord:
Article: The Neighbourly Orchard, Linseed Journal, Volume 1: The Apple, Nov 2022
Review: Caught By The River, by William Arnold, Read here
Interview: BBC Radio Scotland, with Nicola Meighan, Sept 2022

The Sunday Times:
‘Neighbours’ orchard rooted in lockdown isolation blossoms in Edinburgh gardens’
Jean West, July 26, 2020
Read here

Project Diary and previous events

Walking Map Launch Walks with Annie Lord – September 2023
Walk 1: Portobello – Cultivating Connections to consider the impact of community growing in Portobello and its connection to a wider ecosystem: from the earthworms that mulch the soil to the moths that take shelter in the trees’ leaves.
Walk 2: Bingham & Craigmillar – Pollinating Populations to consider the role of pollinators: solitary bees, wasps and moths, paying close attention to new planting and the role of weeds.

Book Launch – The Neighbouring Orchard by Annie Lord in conversation with Christina Riley, The Nature Library
Thu 1 September 2022, Portobello Bookshop

Tree Walk with Annie Lord
Sun 4 September 2022, Portobello

The Apple Feast, Annie Lord, with wild chef/forager, Judith Lamb
Sun 11 September 2022, Portobello

Apple Tree Collection Day at Craigentinny & Telferton Allotments
March 2022

Pruning Workshop with John Hancox at Portobello Community Orchard
November 2021

Charcoal Making Workshop with Annie Lord at Eastfield shared growing space September 2021

Drawing Workshop with Annie Lord at Bellfield Community Garden
September 2021

‘Planted’ group show exhibition at Art Walk Porty Project Room (Portobello High Street) with wrapped apples containing stories collected from Annie in conversation with many of the growers –  written by Annie Lord -July/Aug 2021

Annie Lord Artist Talk with Urban Tree Festival – May 2021
Apple Drawing Classes (by Annie Lord) held via Zoom – April 2021

Apple Tree Collection days and deliveries – Jan-March 202

Audio story written and performed by Annie Lord, as part of exhibition at Figgate Lane Community Garden (Art Walk Porty ‘All At Sea’ programme) – October 2020

Annie Lord is a performer and visual artist based in Edinburgh. She trained in sculpture at The Slade School of Fine Art (London) before developing her work to encompass storytelling and live performance. Annie’s work explores geographic and cultural histories and the ways in which they shape the present. Her performances draw on local history as well as having a fascination with material processes. 

If you are a grower as part of our project you are welcome to join our Facebook Group to stay in touch with many of the other growers sharing images and raising any queries about your tree
@Neighbouring Orchard

If you have any questions about the project please email us at 

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