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June 2014

Innes' Diary

Flowers at Atholl Palace Gardens

June 2013

Birdsong, blossom and bluebells...... after one of the latest springs on record the arrival of these three perennials has been a gift from nature.

I do the odd bit of cycling nowadays and this weekend(mid June) have travelled many miles through the Perthshire countryside. The blossom is fantastic, the show of bluebells the best for many years and no matter how often you hear it you just have to slow down, or stop, when you hear a cock blackbird or a thrush singing away in a tree top...it’s just such a lovely sound and when you find the singer, high in some tree, you have to marvel at the fact the he doesn’t care a hoot about us, he’s just born to sing most beautifully when love is in the air. But back to the blossom.

Everything has been so late this year that it was odds on that something would come up trumps and blossom it has been. Apple trees, cherries, plums,hawthorn,chestnut,laburnum,azaleas...I could go on but the overall effect has been fantastic and to move around our countryside just now is an absolute pleasure, a heady mixture of scents and colour. Some areas of Perthshire are famous for their bluebells but this year has been exceptional. Bluebells are on show where bluebells are normally scarce and, again, travelling through the Perthshire countryside just now is to see glade after beautiful glade of these wonderful plants. Soon the bracken will cover the bluebells but for now...enjoy them at their very best. One thing that did puzzle me on my bike ride was the smell of candyfloss. We had been in open countryside then dropped down into a forestry plantation. Immediately the sweet smell of candyfloss was all around. I’m not sure what was giving off this heady scent but it was a Scots Pine/Douglas/Sitka mix so I assume one of these trees must have been in flower and letting off scent and my suspicion is that it was the Douglas fir, a tree with a particularily complex scent make up.

On a less positive note my cycle ride made me aware of just how much we might be affected by Ash dieback as ash is a surprisingly common tree when you start to look out for it, especially in the hills and burnsides of Highland Perthshire. This new fungal disease is getting a lot press exposure at the moment and it’s difficult to decide whether it is a genuine disaster in the making or an over-hyped “mountain out of a molehill” issue. We have some magnificent, old ash trees in our Perthshire landscape along with large numbers of younger trees. To lose the lot would be sad but, as with everything in nature, some other tree will almost immediately fill the void left by the ash trees. I go with those who favour letting nature take its course and begin replanting new ash trees as soon as a fungus resistant strain of the tree is established. Worst case scenario is we lose the lot within a decade; most likely scenario is that we lose many but that a fair number will prove resistant and in fifty years time a balance will have returned to our countryside and,with a bit of help from we humans replanting new ash trees, ash will be back again.
Innes