Monday 5 April | Lisa Robertson

For her #100DaysOfGreenNevis project, violinist Lisa Robertson is keeping a tree diary to learn more about the role trees play both in the environment and our culture.

We first heard from Lisa as she began her tree diary on day five of the campaign. You can read her post here.

Lisa plays the traditional tune ‘The Rowan Tree’

It has been lovely to observe my local trees, especially as spring rolls on and everything is livening up! I live on the edge of a commercial forest and amidst our wild west highland weather it is impossible not to take notice of the enormous Sitka spruces which make an amazing roaring thundering sound as they sway in windy weather – I love this sound! Sitka spruce is a non-native tree, coming from Alaska, and was introduced in Scotland in the 1830s where it is very successful and popular with foresters as it grows well in poor soil and has a very fast growth rate. It now accounts for almost half of all woodland in Scotland. 

(Video of Sitka spruce swaying in the wind).

Another tree, nearby, which I have been watching is a rowan. Sometimes called mountain ash (despite not being related to the ash), this native tree can grow at a higher altitude than any other tree in the country. As well as for its beautiful bright red berries, it is famous for growing in some extreme places, on cliffs or on top of large boulders, well out of the reach of deer or sheep. I thought it was interesting to pair these two trees because this species has also travelled. The rowan was traditionally thought to bring good fortune, warding off witches and offering protection. In past centuries, emigrants leaving Scotland often brought rowans with them for protection and luck, which has led to these trees being grown in several parts of the global Scottish diaspora. 

I find it very interesting to note such movement of tree species worldwide. Some view it as controversial and it certainly provides food for thought. However, I think it’s important to still value and appreciate all trees anyway, and all of the good they are doing for the planet, regardless of their origin. 

A Rowan tree

From 1 February 2021, Nevis is running #100DaysOfGreenNevis, where our musicians, staff and trustees will each take on a task for 100 days linked to Sustainability. We’d love for members of the public to join us, either by following the campaign online to get ideas of what they can do, or to show us their own actions for us to share. If you would like to know more, do get in touch at georgina@nevisensemble.org 

Nevis Ensemble’s #GreenNevis campaign in 2019 won the Environmental Sustainability award at the 2020 Scottish Awards for New Music, and was shortlisted for Best Campaign by Julie’s Bicycle.