The last few weeks have seen some challenging winds sweeping across the country and the Palace grounds haven’t escaped unscathed.
First tree down was the largest, a near 30ton Noble Fir, which crashed across the bottom of the drive taking down another half dozen trees with it. This 120 year old giant completely blocked off the main drive with an enormous tangle of branches and boughs. To many it looked a disaster area but have no fear. A quick call to Dougie MacPhee and his team of Jason, Mark and Derek (local tree surgeons) and work began to clear the mess. To their enormous credit the drive was open by lunchtime and the site tidied by nightfall. Branches and debris put through the chipper, and returned to the soil, and the logs ferried up the drive to stoke the Palace fires for many weeks to come. A week later and we had another big blow and this time 4 large Douglas and a Scots pine came down, this time all within the woodland so we can take our time to clear them up. It is said that an ideal forest, for biodiversity, contains a mix of 60/20/20. That’s 60 % of trees of various ages standing and growing, 20% standing but dead and 20% dead but fallen. That allows the maximum diversity of bugs, mosses, fungi, birds etc. Unfortunately our grounds need to be kept a little tidier, our guests expect as much, but if you see the odd branch or pile of logs lying gathering moss then don’t put that down to laziness....it’s in the plan!
Just occasionally, in and around Pitlochry, the keen eye will catch the merest hint of a flash of metallic blue whizzing bye. If you are lucky you might even get a closer, slower view and if you are very, very lucky you might be blessed with the sight of this “blue dart” alighting on a prominent branch overlooking a burn or pond. You will be in the presence of a kingfisher. A tiny, colourful fisherman that manages to survive our cold winters and nests in a few banks in the area. One was seen in our ponds recently, a lovely surprise for someone.
We haven’t had much precipitation over the last several months so I am going to get in before the BBC weather celebs and suggest that we are in for quite a heavy spell of snow. It might wait for a while but snow it will, heavily, so I’m going to get the plough out on Monday and give it a good check over!
Happy Christmas to you all and look forward to a good 2014 from us all in the gardening team at the Palace. Innes