A Woodland Walk in Balbirnie, Fife

Let’s pretend that we’re going on a wee walk through the local woodlands in Fife. I took these photos on May 20th just when we were grabbing every good day – just in case it was the last of the summer.
Bluebells

It was such a late spring that a week or so before these photos were taken there was hardly any sign of green at all, but suddenly everything just exploded when our seemingly never ending winter lost its grip. There’s a wee wooden bridge in the distance – it’s perfect for playing Poohsticks, but I usually just hang over it nowadays looking for fish, and sometimes I see one or two.
Burn

Burn

The burn is fairly silent until it reaches a tumble of stones and old displaced cobbles, evidence of what had been a ford until the rushing water took its toll.
Burn

woodland path

Here and there there are groves of these ferns, so elegant looking as they unfurl, I think they might be Shuttlecock ferns but there are so many different kinds, I’m not sure. I’ve just noticed that there are hogweeds beginning to grow on the edges, I hope they don’t eventually crowd the ferns out.

Ferns
Ferns
This woodland was part of a Victorian private estate but is now freely open to the public.
Ferns

It’s not all green!
Trees

We’ve now reached the rhododendrons, these ones were obviously planted here because they’re directly opposite the front windows of the ‘big hoose’ which is now a hotel. I just noticed a couple of days ago that those posts with wire fencing on them to the far right of the photo below have small padlocks attached to them, so that fad which started in Paris must still be ongoing, crazy, but no doubt the padlock manufacturers are happy about it. I think the ‘fence’ looks completely out of place though.
Rhoddies

Rhoddies

I hope that that stretched your legs a bit and maybe cooled you down if you’re still stuck in intense heat. The rain arrived here today, I’m not complaining about it as it’s badly needed, I just wish that we could arrange for it just to rain overnight!

Threave Gardens, Dumfries and Galloway

Back to Threave Gardens again and the photo below is close to the entrance, it looks like a newly planted area and the sphere is made up of slate, very trendy at the moment I think. I’m sure they’re also very expensive as there’s obviously a lot of skill and time involved in sculpting something like that.

spherical sculpture

Giant Gunneras seem to grow well in Scotland, there are quite a lot growing in the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens too. They always remind me of a Beatrix Potter illustration.
Gunnera

There are some really lovely trees growing at Threave and in the distance below there’s a large carved wooden fir cone.
Conifers + cone

I love walled gardens, they always have a feeling of safety and comfort and of course the walls offer great protection for the plants, the one at Threave is beautiful.
Path in walled Garden

Threave really has a wonderful variety of plants and different types of gardens.

Acer and  Arched Hedge

I was quite surprised by the rockery below though as it doesn’t have much in the way of rocks. I thought my rockery was a bit lacking in rocks but it has more than this one at Threave.
Rockery

Below is another sculpture which is a big lump of rock with carvings of animals on it. I prefer big rocks to be left au naturel as to me you can never improve on the beauty of a natural rock face, but that’s just my opinion. The trees look fantastic though – don’t they?
Sculpture and Plants, Threave Gardens

Winter garden and trees

Winter garden 2

As you can see the snow is back, luckily it has been coming and going, just hanging around for a couple of days and returning after a few weeks, I can cope with that – and so can the garden.

Winter garden 1

Just a couple of days after this lot melted I was able to get out there and plant some spring bulbs. I’m itching for the spring to come – as usual I have so many garden projects I want to get stuck into, a garden is never finished, and I have to move a tree or two to make way for – more exciting trees. But as I type the snow is back, mustn’t grumble though as it is January after all.

Winter garden 8

The trees in the photo above though – I get for free as they’re the woodland just beyond my back garden. My favourite is the larch which is just left of centre, but I love them all.

Winter garden 9

There are two birds flying in the centre of the photo above, I think they might just be magpies but they may be buzzards, we get a lot of birds of prey around here.

As a bit of a tree-hugger I was interested in watching a recent BBC programme about Judi Dench and her love for trees, she has a six acre garden which is mainly woodland and commemorates deceased family and friends by planting trees in memory of them, such a lovely thing to do. If you get a chance to you should watch Passion for Trees, there’s a wee taster of it below.

The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben

The Hidden Life of Trees cover

The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben is a fascinating read, an absolute must read for anyone interested in natural history/trees/gardening. The author has worked in Germany as a forester for decades and his observations are supplemented by lots of research from scientists around the world.

I must admit that I’ve always been squeamish when it comes to pruning and cutting back trees and plants as I’ve long thought that it can’t be a nice experience for these living entities, and it turns out that I was correct. But there’s a lot more going on than even I suspected. Apparently trees can communicate with each other via their roots, and they even support each other when any trees in the vicinity are in need of extra care. They can send extra nutrients via their roots to those in need, even to different species, they sound more generous spirited than many humans. It has been discovered that the ends of roots have tiny brain-like nodules, it sounds to me like there’s an awful lot about trees still to be discovered. When they are under attack from pests they can signal a warning to nearby trees and that makes them deploy a chemical that makes their leaves unpalatable to the pests.

He goes on to explain why trees planted by humans often end up struggling to survive, compared with the natural plantations that have developed over hundreds of years. Without the vital nutrients that build up in the soil naturally over the years it’s difficult for the trees to survive and grow as they should. Trees like to be in communities, most of them thrive in family groups and it seems they have personalities of their own just as people do. Some give up the ghost in adversity whilst others are more determined and fight off attacks.

It was a surprise to me that beech trees are thuggish, often planting themselves close to other species and then overtaking them in growth causing their eventual death by shading them out and grabbing most of the water. I think this might happen in Germany where the author is a forester and beech forests seem to be common. In Britain they are more commonly used as specimen trees I think, often not too close to other trees – unless they killed them all a hundred years or so ago!

Inevitably beasties, fungi and viruses are wreaking havoc on trees all over the world, in fact when you realise how many dangers there are for trees it seems quite amazing that any of them survive to a great age at all.

Trees scream apparently, which unnerves me, especially as the local council here seems to be determined to cut down any tree which isn’t in perfect condition, ignoring the fact that they often overcome their problems.

Surprise surprise – it seems that many of the processes carried out by the forestry/logging companies in forests do much more harm than good. But I was absolutely shocked when the author mentioned that even he might be causing harm as he visits multiple forests on a daily basis – without even changing his footwear between visits!!

I know that botanic gardens in the UK have thick disinfectant mats that visitors have to walk through before getting into the gardens, in an effort to keep viruses at bay. It might seem pointless when spores are just as likely to be wind blown or delivered via birds’ feathers, but you have to try to do anything you can to keep them out.

I know I first read about this one in the Guardian Review but I decided I had to read it after Stefanie at So Many Books had so enjoyed reading it, you can read her thoughts here.

I borrowed this book from the library, I’ve had to wait seven months to get it although I was only the third person to borrow it, so someone must have hung on to it for months. But what enraged me was that one of those previous readers had turned down the page corners – often every three pages or so, I reckon that over a third of the pages have been disfigured in this way, and not just a teeny fold, often with the corner being folded right into the inner edge of the book!

Honestly, I don’t believe in capital punishment – but if I ever discover who did that ….. they’re for it!

A Smattering of Snow

Balbirnie snow

After what seems like a couple of months of almost non stop rain we were promised dry but colder weather. I was quite surprised when it snowed though, just an inch or two lay, which is enough for me. I hadn’t had a decent walk for ages due to all the rain, so I took myself out the back gate this afternoon and took the camera with me. Come and join me on my walk!

Below is the edge of a golf course so it’s a bit more manicured looking.
Balbirnie in Fife

What do you call these golf things, water traps maybe? Anyway today it was well frozen over.

Balbirnie

Yes, that is actually the sun shining on those trees, amazing.

Balbirnie in Fife

Balbirnie snow in Fife

I had the whole place to myself. I saw plenty of dog and dog walker tracks but no sign of actual people or animals, and sadly no deer, even though I went off piste and walked through the woods and rough grass.

Balbirnie, Fife

It was great to see the sun at last.

Balbirnie in Fife

I hope that wee stroll blew some of your cobwebs away – it certainly got rid of mine!

Autumn in the Park

We rarely get two days in a row with the same weather so when you get a good day, you just have to go out there and grab it as tomorrow will probably be grey if not wet. That’s why I found myself at my local park getting some fresh if chilly air and exercise. I took my camera of course, just to let you see what autumn is like in Kirkcaldy in Fife. Are you coming for a wee walk?

These trees are at the beginning of the pathway which leads all the way around the perimeter of what is a large Victorian Park.

leaves & trees 4

The path gets quite steep here and I used to get quite puffed out by this stage of the walk. I sometimes had to stop and pretend to be tying a shoe lace or something, just to catch my breath but it’s no bother to wheech up it now.

leaves & trees 3
We’re at the top of the hill and looking back now, I think, there were men in the park gathering up the leaves using machines, shame on them!

Trees 1

This is the view from the path, down into the main part of the park, there are the usual play areas for wee ones and skate board thingy for the bigger ones. Luckily the trees screen all of that.

Trees 4

Another stand of trees, there are lots of them dotted around, unfortunately there are none of our native red squirrels here, only those American grey squirrels, they get everywhere!

Trees 2

After walking all around the edge of the park it’s time to veer into the centre for a walk around the boating pond, it’s much like any other one with an island in the middle where the birds can nest safely. The boats have all been tidied away for winter, they’re swan shaped.

The Boat Pond

And here it is again from the other side. It’s hard to believe that there was a film of ice on the pond just the other day, well I did say that we don’t get two days together the same here.

The Boating Pond 2

That’s the end of today’s jaunt, I hope you enjoyed the breath of fresh air and exercise!

Beveridge Park, Kirkcaldy, Fife

You’re more likely to see far more oyster catchers in Beveridge Park in Kirkcaldy than you ever see down on the shore. I’ve counted over 40 of them all feeding away on whatever creepy crawlie it is they’re getting from the grass. Surely there can’t be that many worms in the ground.

oyster catchers and squirrels

If you look carefully at the above photo you’ll see some squirrels too, there’s one on the grass to the left of the trees and one on the bark of a tree. Sadly they’re just the common, thuggish grey ones. You have to travel further north or over to the west to see the lovely wee native red squirrels.

The seagulls in the photo below are actually standing on thin ice in the middle of the boating pond. I was surpised it was cold enough for the ice to form. Some folks like seagulls but these ones are an absolute menace, especially if they nest on your roof. They’re just a pain in general. Poor Laura got mugged by one last year as she was eating her lunch ‘on the hoof’ on her way to work. A huge seagull came up behind her and she knew nothing about it until she felt a weight on her shoulder, the next thing her sandwich had been snatched from her hand. It can feel like you’re in Daphne du Maurier’s Birds sometimes as they eye you up and they’re the size of a dog!

boating pond

I was amazed to see a cherry/almond tree blossoming in January, at the same time as there’s ice on the pond. It’s usually another couple of months before these trees are in flower, the poor thing looked so cold. It’s been such a weird stop-start sort of winter. I’ve had some pelargonium/geranium plants in my garden which have been flowering all through the winter, albeit very bedraggled and straggly looking. It’ll be an even stranger spring at this rate.

cherry tree

Sadly quite a few of the really old trees in the park just couldn’t withstand the force of the wind of the second hurricane/gale which we had recently. Some of them had obviously been there since the park was first planned over 100 years ago.

The two conifers which fell over at the ornamental fountain are going to be especially missed as they were part of a formal design which is now lop-sided. Such is life – and the death of trees.

Fallen conifers, Beveridge Park, Kirkcaldy