It was a real concern of mine that when I moved out here I would miss trees. So much of my professional life has taken place within or alongside woodlands and forests. So many lunchbreaks have been spent sitting underneath trees (remember that one time that a couple of young red squirrels were playing chase on the tree in front of me?) or on fallen trees, or being kept warm by crunchy leaves.
Missing them was a real concern.
Now that I’m here under the big, big, glorious skies I don’t feel a lack of trees at all. They’re not here, but the islands would be a completely different place if they were. What helps, however is that there are some places where the trees remain and the remaining patches are beautiful: I’ve never seen Scots Pine in such glorious shapes. Their branches do loop the loops, creating stunning silhouettes against the wider environment.
The remaining woods are spectacular. Alder and hazel and rowan and birch. Elder and willow and pine and aspen. Yup, aspen! The whispering tree. The shimmering, shaking treasure. So the trees out here are just beautiful and I’m lucky enough to be involved in the restoration of a woodland, or rather a plantation – restoring it to a near-wild state.
We carry out work in the woodland a fair bit and take volunteers there too (just let me know if you fancy getting involved!). The bulk of the work at the moment is to remove the non-native Rhododendron ponticum that is trying to dominate. Rhodie needs to be removed for without constant management, it does not live in harmony with other species, and unfortunately that means to restore a native Scottish woodland it must come out.
But there are parts of this woodland that are like heaven. There’s a wee patch of real woodland, where the willows and the birches have gone mad and where there’s dead standing wood and fallen dead wood. There’s fungi and bryophytes (oh bestill, my beating heart!) and a lovely mix of ground flora.
I visited recently after some very heavy rainfall, when the woodland had been subjected to an absolute deluge but had not suffered any damage. The whole place seemed to be crawling with life, and I’ve attached a few photos to demonstrate.