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Growing Stories: Storytelling for all

Scotland’s Gardens Scheme has teamed up with The Scottish International Storytelling Festival, to share the stories of our gardens. Gardens are places of stories, each with their distinctive ‘storybank’, from the secrets they hold, to the plants they nurture.

We will be co-hosting “Growing Stories”, fantastic storytelling events at our special gardens across Scotland in 2018. A perfect family friendly day out; so throw on your coats and don your wellies, there’s lots in store! For more information on the individual gardens involved click here.

Storytelling is the sharing of experiences, memories, gossip and compelling yarns.

But live storytelling is something more specific. It is carefully chosen and crafted stories, presented with enthusiasm, to stir curiosity, imagination and learning.

This sense of storytelling is based on centuries of older human culture, when what was shared through the spoken word, and held in the memory, was fundamental, in the absence of books and ipads!

Ken Shapley shares Nature Tales at the Royal Botanic Gardens
Ken Shapley shares Nature Tales at the Royal Botanic Gardens ©Solen Collet

However, live storytelling has come back into its own in the digital age, as people come more and more to value direct human exchange and contact. Stories that are shared directly between people are almost as important as the content of the story being told.

Storytelling David Campbell and young nature fans
Storytelling David Campbell and young nature fans©Colin Hattersley

There is a treasure trove of stories in gardens: from the lores, tradition and botanical history behind the plants and trees, to the harvest and seasonal festivals. There might be tales behind the garden’s location and relationship with the surroundings, as well as the creation and history. And behind it all is the great backdrop; the drama of nature herself. Gardens are private worlds for animals and birdlife, and play an important setting for their perennial activities. How was the garden, its inhabitants and plants affected by the changing weather and it’s inimitable climatic events? What old weather lore has been passed down through the garden’s generations of carers?

Harnessing these stories involves looking back, by reaching into the store of memory. A memory comprised of the stories and skills that are involved in tending a garden. To grow a garden, people grow and care for plants and trees, and in turn the plants nurture people and grow their knowledge and skills. These intrinsic experiences and stories also lead to questions about the future.

What hopes and dreams do our gardens inspire? What does the future hold for these gardens and gardens in general?


“Everything you look at can become a fairytale,
and you can get a story from everything you touch”

Hans Christian Andersen


“Creating an inspiring, rewarding and enjoyable experience for volunteers and visitors alike”

Today many schools have gardening projects, but at least a couple of previous generations missed out, leaving a generation gap in the lives of gardens. Community garden projects are reaching out across the generations and Scotland’s Gardens Scheme is playing its own part. By looking at ‘Growing Stories’ The Scottish International Storytelling Festival and Scotland’s Gardens Scheme hope to reach out to new audiences, and draw people of all ages into the wonderful experience of gardens and gardening.

So it becomes a story of welcome and sharing; to share the life of gardens and the stories of our gardens with the wider community. A wonderful aim for Scotland’s Gardens Scheme and The Scottish International Storytelling Festival to strive towards in ‘Growing Stories’. We hope you will explore these gardens with us!

Donald Smith
Director of The Scottish Storytelling Centre