The Neighbouring Orchard, written and illustrated by Edinburgh artist Annie Lord and published by Art Walk Press, was recently launched at the Portobello Bookshop in early September. A book that stems from a project that connected growers, trees and wildlife, it offers an interesting understanding of the benefits and wonder that orchards can bring, particularly during a time of strife.
Fusing original drawings, interviews with the growers, archive maps from time spent at the National Library of Scotland and photography by Edinburgh photographer Ellie J McMaster, the book gives a glimpse into the creation of The Neighbouring Orchard and the network that has culminated from it.
Commissioned (and subsequently published by) Art Walk Projects in 2020, The Neighbouring Orchard is a network of 160 trees planted out across East Edinburgh and East Lothian, spanning several neighbourhoods including the coastal suburbs of Portobello and Musselburgh as well as Craigmillar. Each tree is planted in a visible location and the apple varieties grown – including East Lothian Pippin, Catshead and Tower of Glamis – all have direct links to the local area, as they are either grown by previous generations of gardeners or have originated from the local area. It’s a nod to the work of growers afore the project as well as those that participated.
The arrival of COVID-19 impacted the original planning of the orchard. Individual growers came forward after a public appeal, willing to plant and nurture a tree in a public facing place, and this book is prime for documenting that. A comprehensive consideration for apple trees in the areas in the past as well as a reflection on the project with the voluntary growers, Annie Lord’s title nicely reflects the project. There is a real sense from it that the whole project was rooted in community, the creation, and its continuation.
The Neighbouring Orchard is out now, published by Art Walk Projects