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!