West Stormont Woodland Group

West Stormont
Woodland Group

Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) SC051682

Join us today to bring Taymount Wood and Five Mile Wood into community ownership

A Scraping of “Spring Flowers in the Woods”

Although I was born and grew up in a London suburb, awareness of nature was hammered into me, partly by my family, partly by primary school, where the “nature table” was obligatory in every classroom and was always piled high with artefacts, and partly by the nature books that lay around the house. It was while poring over these behind the sofa that I began to learn my flowers.

My favourite was entitled “Spring Flowers of the Woods”. To start, I relished the beautiful hand-painted illustrations, and, later, when I read that the woods were full of flowers in spring BECAUSE leaves were off the trees – allowing light for the flowers to open and the pollinators to amble in – it was my first glimmer of ecology, and the entangled ways of nature. I came to recognise and seek those exquisite, archetypal spring flowers such as primrose, wood anemone, wood sorrel, mercury and violet.

Today in Five Mile Wood, on a damp and overcast day, I greeted some of them. In the broad strip of mixed broadleaved and conifer woodland to the south, violets a-plenty sprinkled themselves over the dead leaves of birch and beech, grow on old stumps and under windthrown trunks. Sometimes they congregate with Wood Sorrel, whose edible, trifoliate leaves which drape from their stems, and finely-veined, nodding white flowers are one of the (many) most beautiful things on earth. Wood Sorrel grows here only in scattered communities. I have the impression these colonies are networking towards each other, perhaps via the hidden telegraph of soil-fungal communication.

I have not yet found Wood Anemone there, which is surprising, but intriguingly, there is the merest germ of a bluebell wood, if you know where to look, and they are beginning to flower. Bluebells are said to be a sign of ancient woodland (which Five Mile probably isn’t) or at least a settled woodland ecology. I do not wish to unsettle them!

As the ground rises, that ecology morphs into something more akin to acid heath (there are certainly signs that at least part of the central area once held deep peat, signifying raised bog, perhaps). Two flowers in this habitat – not stars of “Spring Flowers of the Woods” – gave me great pleasure. One was the blaeberries that line the paths and snuggle up to trees here. They are now in hard-to-spot flower. Tiny, beautiful dull reddish bellflowers (look closely!) which will turn into the fruit of this our native blueberry and provide good walking snacks in the summer. It’s a treat to see this wild harvest crop doing so well; it was somewhat decimated by the last clear-fell. (Do we understand well enough the changes we force on a landscape by our actions? Do we care enough?)

The other is gorse. I have a very soft spot for this riotous, prickly native shrub. So many plus points does it have: nitrogen fixing, baby tree protecting, wild tea providing and a redoubtable habitat for spiders (see here) among others. What’s in a few scratches? A week ago, cycling round the wood at speed (to be honest, anything over 6mph is “at speed” for me even on an electric bike), I did incur a few scratches….. but it was like moving through a mist of warm coconut, the delicious gorse flower smell made powerful by the bright sunshine and muggy air. Today, it was fainter – but thanks to the slightly unnerving vigour with which gorse is spreading across the path, I could still catch it. Divine!

Primroses seem to be absent, as well as the wood anemones, but there was this unexpected relative – Primula denticulata, the Drumstick Primrose or, locally, the Kirrie Dumpling. Native to Himalaya, this has not, I suspect, got here on its own! If I were a hard-line ecologist, I’d uproot it (and find a home for it in a garden). I’m not, but there might be a good argument for collecting the seed before it spreads itself about. Or not?

Primula denticulata



Previous Articles

Community Monthly Update – May 2024

We are really delighted this month to start with the announcement that the winner of the WSWG April Photography Competition in the Children’s category is Dougie from Highland Perthshire. His stunning and clever photograph was taken at the head of Loch Rannoch, looking west, on Saturday 20 April. Such a beautiful, calm scene in our precious Perthshire countryside, but just look at the perfect capture of the beautiful splash effect at its heart. A truly super photo.

Congratulations, Dougie. Thank you very much for taking part in this competition and your well-deserved prize will be making its way to you very soon.

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Community Monthly Update – April 2024

On Sunday 14 April, a lovely bunch of people turned out for a WSWG Guided Climate and Biodiversity Walk in Taymount Wood to celebrate the start of the new Perth & Kinross Climate Action Hub (PKCAH) for which funding has been secured from the Scottish Government.

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Community Monthly Update – March 2024

It is a disappointing thing to have to do, but a surprisingly rewarding thing to have done. We are talking about picking up someone else’s litter. We all know Taymount Wood car park occasionally suffers from fly tipping, but it is regular littering which is more of a chronic problem, clogging the ditches, being strewn around the verges, blown into the brambles and nettles, overgrown by rank grass, buried in the soil, or crushed by vehicles if not removed regularly.

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Community Monthly Update – February 2024

First up this month, a big thank you to the Community Payback Team from Westbank in Perth who very kindly made an impromptu stop when passing to remove the worst of some fly tipping they spotted in the Taymount Wood car park in January. A heap of black bin-bags full of spent growing medium and general rubbish had been dumped near the entrance gate a few days earlier. They were unable to clear it all up in one go but are going to come back to complete the task for us. Moreover, they have offered to keep a watching eye on the site in future and clear up what they can. That will be such a help.

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Community Monthly Update – January 2024

Unusually, we’re starting this Monthly Update with a “What’s Coming Up Next” item! This message is principally for people in the Stanley and District community but we’d love to suggest all villages in the West Stormont area follow suit with their own aim of becoming a Biodiversity Village.

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Community Monthly Update – December 2023

It’s another year end and this time WSWG member Françoise from Stanley has created an exquisite 2024 calendar of “Wildflowers and Friends” she photographed in Taymount Wood this year to help raise funds for WSWG. Having gone for a print run of 50, these gorgeous calendars are available on a first-come, first-served basis for a donation of £10 (or a bit more if you wish!) with net proceeds going towards the purchase of the woods.

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