"The Atholl Palace is one of my favourite places where each year we meet up with good friends and have fun. It's the perfect place to stay in a perfect setting with lovely people looking after us. What more could a person want?"
January is almost over and the snow is still here, it hasnít shifted since my last report, before Christmas, and the signs are that it will be here for a while yet.
It started as horizontal,freezing stuff but quite quickly we got some significant falls of snow,which continued throughout December and into January. It seemed that,no sooner had we ploughed and salted the drive,more snow fell and we had to start all over again. A busy Christmas and New Year period meant that the hotel was full so the many guests had to ďseen inĒ safely. Pride of place goes to our 1950ís Fordson tractor which, yoked up to the equally ancient plough,has been up and down the drive many,many times clearing the snow.Rather unusually,for modern winters, we have also had very severe frost over a prolonged period. Night time temps have fallen to minus 16c and on many days the temperature never made it above minus 5c.This sort of weather has to impact on the plants but it also makes starting a diesel engine a bit of a problem with the diesel becoming ďslushyĒ and refusing to flow through the system. The Old Fordson survived it all,though, never missing a day although on some mornings the engine did take a while to spark in to life.
Heavy falls of snow,combined with very low temperatures, caused damage to many trees due to the weight of snow lying on top of the foliage over many days. We only lost a couple of trees but the Douglas Firs,especially, shed many large branches but I suppose they are designed to survive these sorts of conditions.The putting green hasnít seen the light of day since before Christmas, so we will just have to wait and see if the covering of snow and ice has had a detrimental effect on the fine turf. As far as the shrubs and plants go then many will benefit from such conditions but some will also have been asked questions that will severely test their hardiness....time will tell.
60 years ago someone planted a hedge between the main hotel and Corriebruach House. They chose a Leylandii and Cedar mix and I am sure that for many years it was a fine feature. However,like many such hedges, it got away and at 30ft tall and nearly 15ft wide it really did need to be dealt with. We discussed a complete removal, a slight trim, or a more savage going over. We chose the latter, removing half the length of the hedge and half the width of the remainder. It still has a job to do, screening Corriebruach House from the full glare of itís larger neighbour and it will be interesting to see if what remains puts on new growth. It has certainly opened up a new view from the Bow Lounge and when spring comes we will sow grass seed on the bare banks and bulbs and shrubs as well.
Bitter winter weather is still with us but as we go into February the days are getting longer and the first,tentative signs of a new season are beginning to peak through....despite it all, the snowdrops are through. Innes
Innes finished in 04:41:34 and came 1987 out of 4117 who completed the race. A fabulous achievement!
Thank You to all sponsors.