Folk Tales from the Garden connects us to the natural world through the tales, traditions, lore, plants and wildlife of gardens, ranging from back greens to country parks. It follows the seasons, providing observations, poems and stories for each of the twelve months of the gardening year.
In Folk Tales from the Garden, you can find out why moles stay underground, why bats flit between bird and animal, what herbs you should eat with gooseberries and mackerel, why birds and flowers share their colours, how strawberries were invented, how community gardens began, why you may find ghosts and fairies in the gardens, and how many apple trees there are in Edinburgh. But these are just incidental pleasures on the journey through a year of magical stories.
Though the stories are drawn from traditions across Britain and Ireland, and some from further afield, the book is also rooted in Scotland. In particular, Edinburgh, the capital city, features as a Garden City, with its abundant green spaces ranging from medieval enclosed gardens to Victorian flats, classical terraces to suburban gardens, parks, housing schemes and country estates.
‘I had just started the book,’ comments Donald Smith, ‘when Covid struck. The importance of gardens as living spaces grew exponentially. We found new connections there, solace from nature, and at times friendship and conversation which was impossible elsewhere. I want to inspire people to share their own stories and garden experiences.’
‘I loved working on this beautiful book project’ added Annalisa Salis, ‘My visual approach was month by month, slowly following the path through garden observations, personal memories and lovely stories. There is so much to observe and enjoy through seasons, I hope readers will be inspired to remember their own observations.’
To celebrate the launch of the book the Scottish Storytelling Centre is hosting a special launch event on Zoom, featuring Annalisa Salis and Donald Smith in conversation, Tuesday 20th July at 8pm.
Folk Tales from the Garden by Donald Smith With Illustrations by Annalisa Salis
Published by The History Press, July 2021, ISBN 9780750995689
Donald is a well-known storyteller and a prolific author in a variety of genres. He has written a series of novels about turning points in Scottish history, devised or directed over 100 plays, and contributed widely to literature of place. Amongst his non-fiction works are Storytelling Scotland, A Pilgrim Guide to Scotland and Freedom and Faith. His previous story collections include the classic Wee Folk Tales in Scots, and in 2020 he co-authored Why Gardens Matter with Joanna Geyer Kordesch. In addition to his work with the Scottish International Storytelling Festival and TRACS (Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland) Donald is a keen community gardener, and has been recognised by the global Earth Charter for his international services to environmental education through storytelling.
Annalisa is a self-taught artist who’s been drawing and painting since she can
remember. Alongside animals and (many) birds, her work is often inspired by
traditional stories, either found in books or heard by the live voice of the
storytellers. In 2018 she illustrated Wee Folk Tales in Scots, published by Luath Press in Edinburgh. She held personal exhibitions in Scotland (2018) and Cyprus (2019). She currently lives and works between Scotland and Sardinia, her home island. www.annalisasalis.com