News: Grassroots Storytelling in Gardens Across Scotland

26th September 2018

See gardens with new eyes hearing local stories of creation, history & interaction with environment

Scotland’s Gardens Scheme, in association with the Scottish International Storytelling Festival, was delighted to host four garden storytelling sessions in the summer months, heralding the Storytelling Festival’s theme of Growing Stories for its 30th year, with two sessions for autumn still to come!

Families strolled through some of Scotland’s finest gardens to explore the stories they’ve kept hidden for hundreds of years. From Poolewe to East Lothian there was lots to uncover, and garden visitors were guided by the most intrepid of tale miners: storytellers.

Parents were pulled through the small gate to Dr Neil’s Garden, Edinburgh by impatient little hands looking for the storyteller. “You’ve found her” cried Nicola Wright. They set off down the well-worn picturesque paths and stood in awe at the monkey puzzle tree. Young and old left the session beaming, warmed by the May sunshine and the whittled tales of medieval medicines, feisty fairies and giants. “I can’t believe this is a thing” exclaimed one dad of two. “Where’s the next one?”

Tim Porteus spun wonderful tales from the history of Tyninghame House and The Walled Garden, East Lothian. Ancient footprints have traced the grounds at Tyninghame from lost villages and ruined churches, which Tim explored from a cosy picnic rug, exclaiming to the gathering:

“Stories do not die if told and retold, and what better place for their telling than the ground upon which they were lived and worn.”

It was a hot and busy day at Culzean Castle when Alison Galbraith brought the gardens to life, and visitors learnt about the intriguing tale of the slave Scipio who earned his freedom and some property at Culzean. Imaginations were also left to run wild with fairy bedtime tales – pssssttt, fairies love tulip petal bedding!

Visitors to Inverewe Gardens got a treat as Heather Yule regaled them with storytelling and harp playing, immersing them in folklore and music from the Poolewe area.

Two More Garden Adventures This October

There are still two chances to see gardens with new eyes, hearing local stories about their creation, history and interaction with the environment.

As leaves turn from green to golden, and t-shirts are replaced by woolly jumpers, autumnal sessions will warm the soul in arguably the most picturesque time of year for nature, with two magic in-situ storytelling sessions still to come.

At the stunning Fingask Castle in Perthshire on Thursday 11 October, storyteller Lizzie McDougall presents fascinating insights to the garden’s rich history, including story walks around the grounds, appropriately starting by the Dragon Steps!

Then explore the majestic Dalswinton House in Dumfriesshire on Sunday 21 October with storyteller John Wheeler, who will delight with insights into the maiden voyage of Britain’s first steamboat, alongside story walks exploring the garden’s plants and wildlife.


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