Grassroots Storytelling in Gardens Across Scotland

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

Storytelling, gardens and raising money for charity, what a wonderful mixture, and there was cake!

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. Garden visitors were guided by the most intrepid of tale miners: storytellers.


Parents were pulled through the small gate to Dr Neil’s Garden by impatient little hands looking for the storyteller. “You’ve found her” cried Nicola Wright, disguised as a suffragist to tie in with her historical storytelling (and the power of words). Her posse set off, tiptoeing their way down the well-worn paths in the picturesque garden. They stood in awe at the monkey puzzle tree, heard of herbal tricks and medieval medicines, rounded off with tales of feisty fairies and giants.

Young and old left the session beaming, warmed by the May sunshine and the comforting tales whittled by Nicola. “I can’t believe this is a thing” exclaimed one dad of two. “Where’s the next one?

East Lothian

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.

Tim Porteus hit the nail on the head with the above quote as he 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.

Tim explored all this and more, from his cosy picnic rug in the heart of the garden. Both old and young settled down, and parents played key roles in the reacting of noble trees and figures.

Tim Porteus and Kids at Tyninghame House

South Ayrshire

It was a hot and busy day at Culzean Castle when Alison Galbraith turned up to retell the history, and mysteries, of the grounds. Alison 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.

Their imaginations were also left to run wild with her stories of the fairies’ bedtime – in case you didn’t know, fairies favourite bedding is tulip petals!


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. A local hot spot for inspiration, Heather spent time sharing stories with Inverewe’s poet in residence beforehand.

Visitors absolutely loved Heather’s beautiful harp playing, getting happily lost in tales and tunes in one of the most northerly corners of Scotland.

Two More Garden Adventures This October

See gardens with new eyes once you hear stories from local Storytellers 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 the final session in the series takes place at 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 and story walks exploring the garden’s plants and wildlife.

Both sessions run from 2pm-5pm. Admission £5, children free.

Further details and directions to the gardens can be found by visiting Scotland’s Gardens Scheme website here.

Article Image: Alison Galbraith and participants at Culzean Castle. Credit Rob Davis.