"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?"
In the bleak mid winter
Frosty winds may blow
Earth stood hard as iron
Snow on snow........
For the best part of a month now we have had punishing frost and not a little snow. This is early for winter to really set in and seems to be following the pattern of last year, albeit starting a few weeks earlier.
The majority of plants are well settled into hibernation,of sorts, and should cope well with this cold spell but we may well have to re-draft the meaning of “hardy” if these spells of weather continue as some of the more tender shrubs will surely die, as they did last year. For pretty much a month now we have had night time temps of down to minus 16 deg and some days not rising above minus 10 deg. Here at the Palace we seem to have escaped many of the dumps of snow and, as with last year, the 1954 Fordson has done a power of work pushing the snow plough up and down the drive to keep it clear for this very busy time of year. For guests arriving at the Palace the building must look especially imposing and dramatic, in these conditions, against the backdrop of virgin snow.
The birch is one of the great pioneer trees, setting down seed to establish the first signs of a new woodland when conditions are right. With total snow cover some of the birches in the grounds have been releasing their seed. Thousands, maybe millions, of tiny seeds blowing over the frozen snow. It lets you see just how many seeds can be produced by a tree and only a tiny fraction of these need to "hatch" before we have the beginnings of a new woodland. One of the strange characteristics of birch is that they,the mature trees, don't allow seeds to germinate under their canopy so new birch woodland expands outwards from the seed source rather than below established trees. Flocks of siskin have also been chirruping away high up in the birches, feeding hard on the tiny seeds that are being released by some trees at the moment. It must be hard work but under the present conditions not much else is available to them.
Reading tracks in the snow can be fun and it lets you see what is about, even although you may not see the animal in the flesh. Recently foxes have been about most nights, rabbits, cats, roe deer, pine marten, stoat, squirrel, pheasant and much more. If the snow continues perhaps we should have a “track reading competition” in the grounds for the many who will be enjoying the Palace over Christmas and New year. From Kenny and I have a very Happy Christmas and we look forward to seeing you in 2011. Innes
Innes finished in 04:41:34 and came 1987 out of 4117 who completed the race. A fabulous achievement!
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