Monday, 24 October 2011

Woodwords again

On Wednesday I set off on a massive trek around Scotland, with an A-B-Tree event each day for six days, as follows:
  • Ivy - Wednesday 26, 7.30pm, Forres Carlton Hotel, Moray
  • Ash - Thursday 27, morning, Alyth Primary School, Perthshire
  • Oak - Friday 28, Dawyk Botanic Gardens, near Peebles, Borders
  • Birch - Saturday 29, Benmore Botanic Gardens, near Dunoon, Argyll
  • Hawthorn - Sunday 30, Edinburgh Botanic Gardens
  • Willow - Monday 31, Logan Botanic Gardens, near Stranraer
All of the Botanic Gardens ones are at 2pm, and all but the Alyth session are open to anyone to come along. Bring a pencil and a notebook. It'll be about an hour and a half, of sharing titbits of knowledge about the ecology, practical uses and folklore of trees, plus some nice pieces of writing and a chance to find out how you and others respond to a tree.

I've just put the following press release out, which spells out what it's all about.


Sutherland-based writer Mandy Haggith is leading a national project which celebrates the traditional Scottish link between trees and writing. Known as the Tree Ogham, or Tree Alphabet, each letter of the Gaelic alphabet has an associated tree or shrub.

To celebrate this ancient connection, Mandy is organising a series of creative writing events in woods and gardens around Scotland, one for each letter and species. The events are happening during autumn 2011, as part of the International Year of Forests.

Mandy said, ‘I love trees and I find them a great inspiration for writing, not least because of all the legends about them and the amazing facts about their historical uses. This project is a way for me to encourage other people to connect with the rich tradition rooted in the Gaelic tree alphabet, pick up a pencil and paper (both of which come from trees) and let their imaginations run riot.’

The Gaelic alphabet has 18 letters, so there will be 18 events. These blend folklore, practical uses and ecology of trees while being playful with words during a walk in the woods. Most of the events are public and they are being hosted by schools, community woodland groups and environmental organisations around Scotland, from Borgie to Stranraer and from Skye to Angus, including the four Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh, the Borders, Argyll and Dumfries.  The project is made possible by funding from Forestry Commission Scotland and Hi-Arts.

Events so far have included an afternoon with Stoer and Lochinver Primary Schools, a morning with some mental health service users from Inverness, a session in the woods on Skye with children from Shetland, Orkney, Argyll and the Western Isles. There have also been public events with the Woodland Trust, Trees for Life and the Falkland Centre for Stewardship. The final six events are coming up between now and the end of October.

Mandy said, ‘I’ve been delighted so far by all the leafy words sprouting from participants’ pencils!’

Mandy is a writer who lives on a coastal woodland croft in Assynt. She has published dozens of nature poems in literary magazines, has two poetry collections (letting light in and Castings) and her novel, The Last Bear, won the Robin Jenkins Literary Award for environmental writing in 2009. This novel is structured around the Ogham: each of its chapters is called after a tree and draws on the Celtic tree lore for that species. 

Mandy has been a forest researcher and activist for the past fourteen years, prior to which she was an academic specialising in computer tools to support environmental decisions. She has worked on forest issues for many organisations, including the Centre for International Forestry Research, WWF, Greenpeace, the Taiga Rescue Network, Culag Woods and Assynt Foundation. She was the co-ordinator of the European Environmental Paper Network from 2005-2009. 

Mandy is an experienced facilitator of writing events, she has led many creative writing retreat weeks and poetry courses, as well as evening classes, guided writing walks and workshops.
For more information contact Mandy Haggith on 01571 844020 or mobile 07734 235704.
Email:, Website:

No comments:

Post a Comment