An Awesome Walk (and carnage at Sally Ardoch)

I take my hibernation quite seriously and don’t usually venture out much at this time of year. But prompted by the mild weather and by Aye Can’s Facebook campaign to Get up and Go, I went down to the woods for the first time this year. What a mess! It was carnage – trees down all over the place. I took pictures but I don’t think they capture devastation. You could almost see where the wind had funnelled through the woods toppling tree after massive tree as it went. Once they’re all cleared away there will be a distinct gap in the woodland floor. If you have a fire in the house, this would be a good time to stock up on wood (as evidently some have been doing). As well as the giant conifers, there are plenty of smaller birches and rowans down too.

It was a beautiful walk though. I stopped to watch the Roe deer grazing in the stubbly fields for a while (easing myself in gently you know?). The hedgerows are showing signs of life; Sweet Cicely poking through at the horse gate, tiny Gallium shoots at the layby and Dandelion and Plantain all over the place. Sweet Woodruff in its usual spots but it looks like last year’s growth rather than new. As I was pondering this I was disturbed by an almighty noise and looked up expecting to see geese. Instead, 5 swans, beating their powerful wings and gabbling to each other, sailed over the treetops. Awesome in every sense of the word.

Making my way through the woods, I came across this young tree which just shone at me as I passed. I’ve never seen such a metallic silver bark. Oddly, I think this means it’s a Downy Birch rather than a Silver Birch but apparently they hybridise so it could be a bit of both. I’ll keep an eye on this one I think and see what it does as it grows.

As I reached the gate at Tigh Ban I could see it was getting dark but I had heard tales of wild garlic up in Crieff (I know! It’s January!) So, as I didn’t have anything waiting for me at home except my tax return, I took a right and headed for the beach. This gave me a good opportunity to take some pictures of the Tilia down that way. They are quite different to the church ones – more upright and rounded. I’ll add them to the Tree Year file for comparison and attempt an ID at some point. Sadly I didn’t find any garlic – a few moments of excitement but it turned out to be young docks. As well as all the advice about not picking anything unless you’re sure what it is etc. I think I’ll add “don’t attempt to ID in the dark”!

I wandered down to the beach for a few moments contemplation before I headed home. It’s always different down there. Changing river levels, floods and a certain amount of excavation, constantly change the way the water flows. In an isolated but still deep pool, I saw the tell tale ripples of fish rising. I hoped they would make it out before the pool shrunk any more but as this passed through my mind a Heron took off from the far bank and circled overhead – they may make easy pickings I fear.

Turning for home, yet another sight to stir my Winter soul from hibernation: shining in the twilight sky, Jupiter and Venus! Which reminded me – apparently tonight there is a good chance of seeing the Aurora borealis. But looking to the North, the mountains were already almost hidden and in the West, more dark clouds were rising. I stopped awhile as I passed the woods on the way home to stargaze through the bare branches of the Winter trees…

A magical end to a magical walk.

[pictures hopefully to follow – computer gremlins…]

[TREE YEAR] Summer Harvest

tilia close up on dark So, I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped for the Tree Year (it didn’t help that they chopped my trees down though). I got a harvest of flowers from the trees in the park in August but I think they’re different types of tree because they are much smaller than the Church ones and they don’t seem to sprout at the base. This afternoon I have some hope that the Church trees are showing hopeful signs of regrowth though and i’ll continue to post on their progress. I have alot more to share about the wonderful properties of the Tilia flowers but, for today, with a whisky induced headache, I simply offer some pictures of a Summer harvest to look forward to…

tilia a mass of flowers

tilia close up on tree


Yes I know this is now 6 months late! But last time I looked it was April. What happened to Summer? It makes me feel a bit sad to look at these pictures now. Spring had just sprung after an awful Winter, the air was warming up and I looked forward to a Summer sitting underneath my Tilia trees…

But then came May with late frosts, June with unseasonal gales and Summer ended up just dull, damp and disappointing. Now Winter looms again and I never did spend as much time as I had hoped with my trees.

I did spend much of April sitting under them though; knitting hearts for my newest niece Cara; taking time out to read a book and not a computer screen; snoozingzzz and taking pictures as the plants unfurled around me…


APRIL’S BLUE SKIES – the unfulfilled promise of Summer 2011


[TREE YEAR] April's blue skies


APPLE BLOSSOM – sadly lost to the late frosts of May – no apples

[TREE YEAR] Apple blossom


HAWTHORN – blossom just about to burst…
[TREE YEAR] Hawthorn blossom


MOTHER ELDER – stretching bony fingers in the warm Spring air
[TREE YEAR] Mother Elder

As for my Tilia trees? The miraculous development of a canopy, that I had imagined, didn’t happen. The lady across the road would say to me as she passed “don’t worry, they’ll come…” Something to look forward to next Spring?

THE TREE YEAR – Which tree?

To celebrate International Year of Forests I’m going to be participating in the Tree Year project. The idea is to:

1. Pick a tree – either one you like a lot or one that you see every day on your way to work or that happens to live on your balcony.

2. Observe it: every day or once a week or less. What grabs your attention? What kind of animals are and what kind of plants grow on it?
3. Write about your observation, make sketches or take photographs and share it with us.

I loved the idea the second I came across it on Twitter but deciding on which tree took a bit longer. Eventually, I decided on the Lime tree. There is a lovely avenue of them that I walk past on my way to work but there’s also one or two in another local park and several lining the walk down to the river. They all seem quite different so I’ve been wanting to get to grips with the differences between the different Tilia species for a while. This seemed like the perfect opportunity.

So, this afternoon I took my camera down to the Millenium Gardens to record the Church Limes on the first day of the Tree Year.

Church Limes

Lime Avenue

The trouble, of course, is that I then noticed the beautiful Birches

Silver Birch

Copper Birch

And remembered our little baby Apple Tree

little baby Apple Tree

And the marvellous Hawthorn/Ivy embrace at the entrance to the gardens

Hawthorn/Ivy embrace

So I recorded them too just in case I feel moved to share their story later on. I like the discipline of having a focus on one tree but, as the Tree Year people say:

This is a start – we’ll see what grows…

It’s really exciting and inspirational to know that I’m taking part in a wonderful global project. This map shows the location of participating trees. I’m looking forward to seeing my little Tree Year tree sprouting out of Scotland soon.

Happy New Year