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

“Last Leaves Falling” by Margaret Lear

I pause on my way through the woods, quietening my breathing, keeping as still as I can. There is no sound, there is no wind. There should be no movement. Yet within the vascular systems of the broadleaved trees that bound the track, small enzyme changes are at work, invisible changes that lead to letting go, abscission, leaf-fall.
West Stormont Woodland Group

And down they come, silent, slow, like snowflakes in a still winter’s night. There is no flurry, no sound of wind through dry foliage, just the falling. Just the peace. Some trees are bare already. Birches are among the first to blaze golden and lose their leaves. Oaks keep hold of theirs till the last, but then they are usually the last to open in spring. Mature trees abscise before young ones. Young trees, and trees that have been pruned, will produce what’s known as juvenile growth, one feature of which being that the processes of leaf-fall are delayed. That’s why beech trees are so popular for hedges, the dry, crackly leaves slipping from gold to brown and staying in place till spring.

In the deep centre of Taymount Wood, a young beech tree shines out like a beacon. They coat the ground, these last leaves, glossy with last night’s rain and the condensing sweat of the mist that loiters in the motionless, tangled branches. Small sweeps of the already fallen lie around sedges and rushes, in hidden puddles and ditches. What else do they conceal?

A small brown toad lurks unmoving as the day, camouflaged among old birch leaves at the path edge. Then he moves, lopes distractedly into the grass, and is visible.

I like the emergence into visibility of the toad, and I enjoy the wood revealing its secrets as the leaves fall. The bizarre jutting side-branch of a fir tree, and the even more inexplicable branch that has fallen over it like a necktie, and somehow grown into an A shape. The filigree, waterfalling twigs of bare birch trees. The holes in trunks and large branches, the red squirrel’s aerial expressway from tree to tree. When leaves fall, I see that some trees are still richly clothed, decked in lichens and mosses so profusely you can’t see the wood, and decorated with the jewels of fruit and fungi. Food, forage and habitat here for small creatures that depend on the woods through the winter.

By the King’s Myre, the stillness of the day is magnified by the strange open vastness of this stretch of water. Reeds and trees and overhanging trees are reflected; birds are absent or silent. In the boats drawn up to the jetty, the leaves lie in rain that’s collected there, the sky bounces back, grey, metallic, motionless. There are no wafting clouds; it is all cloud, all greyness. And more leaves unhook themselves from life, drift down soberly against the small frictions of the early winter air.

On twigs and branches, wherever a leaf falls, a small tight bud, wrapped unnoticed in its winter coat, remains and waits.

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Previous Articles

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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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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