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

Whose Woods Are These? I think I know…*

This is the first in a new series of posts for West Stormont Woodland Group. From fear or repeating myself, I thought I'd write about the fact that each month, the woods have a Gift for us. And every month, there is at least one challenge that faces us - whether physical, philosophical or organisational - in contemplation of owning woodland as a community.
West Stormont Woodland Group

February’s Gift: Gorse Flower Tea

Of course, there are gorse bushes in flower in February in Five Mile Wood. There are gorse bushes in flower in the woods every month of the year, providing pollen and nectar for insects out too early or too late in the season. Some ancient lecher noticed this and spawned the saying “When gorse is not in flower, then kissing’s out of season.”

Gorse in flower in a cold and clenching winter such as this of 2021 is a gift indeed. It’s too cold to detect the rich coconut smell from them which can be almost overpowering in high summer, but the gold dazzles against the grey landscape of February or peeks through the smothering snow. Gorse has been used for many purposes, from feeding tough-mouthed horses in winter to sweeping chimneys. It’s a nitrogen fixing plant, like all the pea family, and imparts fertility to the soil. Burn it, and the alkaline ash is good for cleaning soiled linen.

The flowers themselves are used to make a yellow dye, and whether it worked or not, some dairies insisted that feeding gorse to milking cows made for a rich yellow butter. I don’t use gorse for any of these things, but I do make gorse flower tea. It looks wonderful swirling around a glass teapot and you might catch a breath of that coconut smell. Don’t expect to taste it; it’s a very subtle (or absent!) taste. If you look hard you may find early shoots of nettle in the woods to give the tea some substance.

But don’t pass the gorse on to anyone else – allegedly, making a gift of gorse guarantees you’ll end up fighting. It’s the woods’ gift to me in February, and I will have no quarrel with the woods.

A Challenge for February? Whose Woods Are These?

I think the woods are used more now than I remember in over twenty years, Evidence for that lies not just in who you meet, but in new tracks veering off, in small acts of clearance, in scattered pieces of art, in well-maintained articles of recreation like the new swing in the picture. Using the woods implies a sense of ownership, a vested interest, a certainty of relationship. A future.

West Stormont Woodland Group

But are we all buying into this? And will that feeling of belonging translate into an actual belonging? If Five Mile and Taymount Woods are to be taken into community ownership, it’s essential that community identifies itself, makes itself heard and provides the evidence of its existence that will count.

This month, West Stormont Woodland Group will begin a Community Consultation on the proposals the group has been working on for the two woods (or, as it’s widely seen, the one wood with a gap in the middle). Of course, Covid restrictions have forced the consultation to be mostly online, but this shouldn’t be seen as a problem – taking an event online in my recent experience amplifies and multiplies its reach and scope. 

There will be a new website dedicated to the consultation, which launches on 22nd February; details can be found at www.weststormontwoodlandgroup.scot , on Facebook, or by emailing contact@weststormontwoodlandgroup.scot

The challenge is to get you, me, all members, all non-members local to the communities around the woods, all of us starting to think these woods might be ours, to contribute to the consultation. Spread the word!

*Quoted from the opening lines of “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost. Appropriate, given the question and the number of snowy evenings.

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Previous Articles

Community Monthly Update – June 2024

Our main focus this month has been collaboration with all sorts of people and organisations in our ongoing programme of events in Taymount Wood and outreach activity for the WSWG Project. Each and every event has been a source of real joy at seeing so many people benefitting in so many ways from spending and sharing time in our lovely woodlands on a diverse range of activities. Whilst we cannot claim to have beaten the record set in 2019 for our oldest participant at a WSWG event (she was an amazing 96 years old!), at only 5 weeks old a little treasure beat the record of our youngest attendee to date by a whole 11 weeks! How cool is that? Read on to find out more about these wonderful, moving and uplifting events.

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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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