Aug 142015

Fraxi_Media_Img_1It may seem an unlikely task but Asylon Theatre have created a beautiful and intensely moving piece of theatre inspired by the devastating ash-dieback disease that is spreading across the country. Currently showing in the Fletcher Building at RBGE at 11am each morning the show is adverstised for age 8+ but I feel that people of all ages, adults as well as children, will enjoy and be moved by this passionate play that combines physical theatre and drama with a story of three generations of woodlanders and one regal ash tree. The story is narrated by a child and this makes it all the more poignant. It is performed by three actors who move around the stage with energy and pitch perfect timing so with minimum props you feel immersed within the ash forest at all seasons and in all weathers. The touching human stories are intertwined in a playful way with the life of the tree, its birth, survival and ultimate death. Humour is added with charming vinettes from a caterpillar who is continually eating dog violets throughout the performance until finally emerging as a butterfly.
A tremendous amount of development has gone into creating this highly professional performance and it deserves to be seen by a much bigger audience. This being the Edinburgh Fringe it is competing with a very large number of mediocre shows but do go and see it, and take your friends and family. You will not be disappointed.

The Ash Grove

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May 202013

As part of the Moving Forward from Ash Dieback project we decided to search for a poem that would help people consider the value ash has in our environment and our culture. Poetry has the potential to enrich our lives and change the way we look at the world. It can connect with us on a different level from the usual ‘interpretive text’ you may find in an exhibition. So, with the help of the Scottish Poetry Library, we sent out requests to poets across Scotland to ask them to consider ash trees, their disappearance and how we might celebrate ash woodlands. We were delighted with the response: the very high quality and the variety of work. Below is the final work chosen, written by Ken Cockburn.

The Ash Grove

a springtime ash, whose leaves emerge from black
an unlocked ash, so profligate with keys
a mourning ash, its branches heaped on pyres
a lettered ash, in the alphabet of trees
a hedgerow ash, which twists among the briars
a spreading ash, in summer’s heat a bield
a sporting ash, to take the shinty field

a warlike ash, for arrows and for spears
a lightning ash, and flame that flash provides
a hanging ash, a shade of dule and tears
a timeless ash, the horse which Odin rides
a steam-bent ash, which hoops the barrel staves
a buoyant ash, a charm against the waves
a blighted ash, whose crown is dying back

Ken Cockburn
April 2013

Thanks to Ken Cockburn, all the poets who submitted work and to the Scottish Poetry Library.

Moving forward from ash dieback

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May 172013

Disease is a normal part of nature. But in recent years there has been a considerable increase in the number of new pests and diseases affecting Scottish trees. It was the recent arrival of a fungus known as Chalara, or ash dieback, that caught the public attention. Over 10 million ash trees in Scotland, and the wildlife that depends on them, are vulnerable to this disease. Listen to our podcasts and watch the beautiful animation to find out how ash dieback will impact Scotland.


Follow Robert the redstart through the wind swept ash woods in this stunning short animation.

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Apr 302013

Resilience noun [mass noun]
1 the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity
2 the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness
[Oxford English Dictionary 2012]

How resilient are the woodlands in Scotland? I like to think they are pretty tough, able to withstand the hardest of times and bounce back. The ancient woodlands of Scotland, such as Rassal Ash wood on the west coast, have endured centuries of change. But the tree health project I have recently been coordinating has started to make me think our trees are more vulnerable than they may first appear. Continue reading »