Put your virtual walking shoes on and join me on my morning walk for the Guardian in rural Fife.
We’ve had so much rain recently, it’s very wet underfoot and my expensive wellies didn’t last long before the heel split so for me it’s a wet walk eventually as the dampness penetrates my two pairs of socks, at least virtual walkers don’t have that to contend with! I refuse to buy another pair of expensive but useless wellies.
The trees are probably at their best just now, soon the leaves will be battered to the ground by rain or wind.
It’s not only the trees that are providing interest at the moment, various fungi are doing their thing too. It has been a great year for them due to the very wet summer we had; puffballs appeared in my garden in June, they’re a pain in the neck.
I think these ones are Cantharellus cibarius, apparently edible but I’d be too scared to try them just in case they’re poisonous.
I think the one below is Grifola frondosa, edible but with a mouse-like smell!
I think the one below is a Coprinus comatus, edible unless the gills have started to liquefy! The camera didn’t pick it up but this one looked really beautiful as the raindrops encased all around it like diamonds and pearls, but even better.
Back to the path and the acers are looking grand.
Walking under the trees here is special and I can see why doctors have started to prescribe patients a course of woodland walks to help their mental health.
There aren’t quite enough leaves here to dance along while scuffing through them, I’ll have to wait a bit for that harmless but daft bit of seasonal fun. I hope you enjoyed your walk with me.
Here we are back at Branklyn Garden in Perth again, it was the first day of its opening again after the Covid-19 lockdown was being slowly eased in Scotland. We were all glad to see some different scenery I’m sure.
There were quite a lot of people there but it was still fairly easy to lose yourself among the plants and take photos without other people being in the background.
Sadly I couldn’t see any fish in the pond, I suspect that if they put any in there they would be fodder for some kind of birds, possibly a heron. This garden is a short distance from the River Tay, where there are plenty of seabirds around.
I wish I could remember the name of the red flowered climber below, I have a feeling that it’s an annual but I can’t find any images of one like it. That’s one grouse I have about Branklyn, the plants aren’t always labelled. Probably they were all well labelled originally but the plants have engulfed them as they grew.
You can just get a glimpse of the house that the original owners of the garden lived in in the photo below. This is now a Scottish National Trust property but the house is used as a holiday rental so you can’t look around it.
There are some cracking acers/Japanese Maples in this garden. So many people love them but aren’t able to grow them although they’re not that pernickety really, having said that some of mine got damaged by an air frost in May, just as the new growth was looking so good.
It was a sunny day and the sun shining through the top of the acer below was quite something, but the photo doesn’t really capture the moment.
In normal times (remember them?) we would have done quite a bit of travelling around by this time of the year, but we haven’t been further than seven miles from home for over three months now, and that trip was just to buy some tools so that Jack could do some emergency plumbing himself. He earned many Brownie points! Eventually. Anyway, I’ve been doing a lot of reading and walking locally so here we go on another local walk in rural Fife.
The photos were taken in late May when the bluebells were out, but they are really just a haze.
It’s quite well known for rhododendrons.
But the one below is a mystery to me, very pretty though.
I love that the shattered tree below is determined to hang on to life years after most of it crashed to the ground in a storm.
This land which used to belong to the Balfour family, related to the Arthur Balfour who was a British Prime Minister in the early 1900s is now owned by the local council and this year instead of mowing all the grass they are just cutting paths through it. Obviously this is a cost cutting exercise but it’s also great for the wildlife and plants, and very scenic I think. Tomorrow Nicola Sturgeon will hold her usual 12.30 news Covid-19 update, maybe we’ll be allowed to travel more than five miles from home – you never know your luck!
It’s time for another wee walk in the Balbirnie Estate, Fife – socially distanced of course!
The burn (stream) in the photos is variously called Balbirnie Burn or the Back Burn. It’s a lovely thing but quite devoid of wildlife. The problem apparently is that there is too much sediment in it and not enough gravel for fish to lay eggs in. There was going to be a project to try to rectify that problem, but that may be on the back burner now due to all the costs of the lockdown to the local council.
Like many old estates this place was well known for rhododendrons, there was a bit of a craze for them in Victorian times and Balbirnie has some unusual and very old specimens.
Strangely the reddest rhoddies seem to bloom first, but I prefer the paler colours.
The ferns below must be the most elegant variety growing in the UK. There are big pockets of these ones around the woodland in Balbirnie, I think they’re called shuttlecock ferns.
There was a tall cherry tree still in blossom. It’s a shame that it never gets warm enough here for the fruits to ripen properly.
Walking in a big loop we reached the ‘big hoose’ again and as the hotel is closed for the duration, like everywhere else we slipped through the gardens and I took a photo of the small Magnolia below, I believe the variety is stellata but the photo isn’t as good as I hoped it would be so it’s not that clear.
I hope you enjoyed your walk in the woodlands. It wasn’t as empty of people as you might imagine. We had never seen it busier; usually we have almost the whole place to ourselves but people who never before exercised aroud this area are now making good use of the place. There was even an ex-leader of the Scottish Labour Party out and about.
This year I took some photos of the apple tree in my garden as it blossomed. It begins a deep pink colour but opens to pale pink and then mainly white. This is the only plant that was in the garden when we bought this house. I’ve since planted another apple tree but it is a later variety.
We had some hail today, our weather has gone really crazy, but it shouldn’t affect the apples as they haven’t budded yet, so my fingers are crossed as we didn’t get any apples last year because of a late frost.
It was so hot last week when I took the last photo, and until then I hadn’t realised that apple blossom actually had a scent, the heat really brought it out and I’m surprised that no perfumiers have tried to capture it as it’s really lovely, or maybe they have tried, I’m not a great one for perfume in fact I think a lot of them smell really horrible and a whiff of some of them leave me with a three day migraine. I hold my breath when going through the perfume department of any department store – remember those places? They were becoming an endangered species in recent times and I think that Covid-19 might do most of them in completely, but I suppose that’s the least of our worries at the moment. The delicate looking blossom survives though.
Who doesn’t love cherry blossom? I wait for it to signal that spring has really sprung and summer isn’t so far away, but so often the blossom lasts only a week or so and then the wind blows it all off and the ground is strewn with confetti petals. But the tree below is one that I pass every morning on my daily walk for the Guardian and it has held its blossom for about three weeks. It’s a sort of Goldilocks size, not too big and not too small, just perfect although, if you look at the photo you will see a baby version of it has appeared just to the right, possibly from a root sucker. The main tree is probably about 15 feet high and is obviously quite old.
I crossed the road to take a photo pointing my camera up at its canopy. It’s a beautiful soft shade of white, even more lovely than the pink variety I think.
Two weeks later I took the photo below and as you can see the leaves are beginning to take over from the blossom which doesn’t look quite so white now. This is the sort of cherry tree that I should have planted in my own garden, instead of the monster that I inadvertently planted, sadly I don’t know what variety this one is – not that I have any space for more trees now anyway!