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 – November 2023

We are really thrilled to let you know that Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) has approved WSWG’s Revised Wildwood Proposal and Business Plan for Taymount Wood. This is the first big goal achieved in our Community Asset Transfer Process to bring Taymount and Five Mile Woods into community ownership!

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Community Monthly Update – October 2023

A highlight for the WSWG Project this month has been the timely teaming up of a group of employees from Aviva in Perth with some unexpectedly lovely autumn weather for a day of corporate volunteering. On 2 October, five enthusiastic Aviva colleagues spent the day with WSWG in the middle of Taymount Wood on a range of interesting and very useful tasks, quite a contrast to their usual office based working environment.

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Community Monthly Update – September 2023

Given the distinctly seasonal change in the weather of late, we thought we would bring our Word of the Month up to the top of our September update. Psithurism: (Noun) The sound of wind in the trees and rustling of leaves, from “psithuros”, the Greek word for whispering. Enjoy your woods this autumn!

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Community Monthly Update – August 2023

This month we really want to share with you a wonderful event we had – the joint woodland picnic on 22 July with Tayside Woodland Partnerships (TWP). We pitched our gazebos in a lovely grassy glade in Taymount Wood and set out a delicious picnic spread courtesy of Alison’s Kitchen in Blairgowrie – quiches, sausage rolls and cakes galore – on portable tables kindly lent to us by Stanley Village Hall. More food and home-baking was brought by the picnickers themselves. Despite weather forecasts to the contrary, it was a beautiful day with not a drop of rain or drizzle. After lots of great chat and good food, we heard a little about each of our organisations’ respective projects and then took a walk up the main track to King’s Myre Loch.

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Community Monthly Update – July 2023

First up this month is for us to say a big thank you to a lovely group of young people from Ochil Tower School in Auchterarder who had come on a mini-bus trip to visit Taymount Wood on 21 June … and just did a litter-pick whilst they were there!! What a great example of being good citizens – enjoying the environment and taking care of it together.

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Community Monthly Update – June 2023

We want to start with a big thank you to all WSWG volunteers who helped in the Wildflower and Mining Bee Rescue Mission this spring. Many times more wildflowers have come through along the various stretches of raked verge than would have been the case had they remained swamped by gorse mulch and, as seen in the photo here, mining bees have successfully emerged where the track surfaces were cleared to help them out too. And of course the cleared sections of track make for more comfortable going again for walkers and dogs. Lots more areas still need attention, and we will keep doing what we can when we can, but thank you again to everyone who helped make a difference for nature this spring.

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