It’s not just the bluebells that steal the show!
The annual spectacle of bluebells is over at our woods and across the UK and in many places the bracken has now leapt up and taken the place of the fragrant, delicate and popular blue carpet and it can feel like a bit of an anti-climax.
I love bracken though, in the right place, and where it isn’t dominating like it does on some open hillsides. At a site meeting at Kinclaven Bluebell Wood the other day with the Perthshire and Fife Site Manager and our Scotland Engagement Officer we stopped to observe the beauty of native wild flowers and wildlife that are on show for us after the bluebells.
Speedwell, or “bird’s eye”, is a tiny, scrabbling plant with long stems and milky blue flowers. Its name literally means “speed thee well”, or “go safely on your journey”, perhaps because it grows by waysides and roadsides, and in Ireland it was stitched into your clothing to ensure safe travel. The Latin name given to this genus is Veronica – the association being that Veronica was helping Christ on his journey.
There are a variety of different folklore stories surrounding speedwell, such as how if you pick it birds will pick your mother’s eyes out, or if you look into the eye of the flower, your mother will die…chilling stuff!
The newly planted areas were busy with bees and butterflies, and in the sky hundreds of sand martins that nest in the banks of the nearby River Tay were circling above the planted meadow. The new woodlands, where we have planted into fields that once were ancient woodland but more recently were pasture, are already an incredibly valuable but transitional habitat, with carpets of bedstraw, chickweed, creeping buttercup and speedwell, as well as some patches of thistle that the goldfinches will love once they seed.
Even though we only planted the trees from 2 years ago onwards, some were already taller than us! Here is Kirsty posing with a rowan reaching speedily skywards!
In the existing oak woodland it was the trees that stole the show for me, in their bright early summer flush, and the bracken was stunning too in the late afternoon sunshine.
We were delighted to see oak regenerating throughout the old and newly planted woodland
I hope that you are all enjoying the woodlands near you as much as I am mine. I’d love to see your photos if you’d like to send them to me. Feel free to email me at email@example.com.
Scotland Volunteering Development Officer