Its that time of the year again with Christmas just around the corner decorations should be appearing around the street. Another thing that will be appearing in living room windows will be the all important Christmas tree, covered top to bottom in lights, baubles and tinsel.
Its almost strange to think that the idea of a Christmas tree was actually around before the advents of Christianity, as the ancient Egyptians used to celebrate the winter solstice by bringing green palm rushes into their homes which symbolizes the triumph of life over death. Skip forward to the 16th century in Germany when the first use of the Christmas tree occurs. It happened when devout Christians took decorated trees into their homes.
If you have decided to have a real tree with roots this year and want it to last through the holidays then here’s how to look after the tree. First of all you should water your tree regularly and you can also cover the top soil with mulch or reindeer moss to prevent water evaporating and you could also empty trays of ice cubes onto the soil to prevent the water pooling. Only limit your tree’s time inside to ten day stretches as trees are at their happiest at cool temperatures and bright outdoor light. Leave the tree in the container you bought it in to avoid disturbing the roots as you do not want to combine transplanting shock with taking the tree indoors. A tip if you do not like the container your tree came in then you can drop it into a larger glazed ceramic pot or metal bucket which can also catch excess water.
Invasive Species are a tricky thing in Tayside. There is a multitude of different invasive species and they all come with different challenges. It is very difficult to conquer these without a catchment wide approach and large amount of parties working together to tackle it.
Invasive species alter our natural environment, they out-compete other native species and dominate areas, creating habitats which don’t provide the diversity our wildlife need to sustain themselves and their populations.
Himalayan Balsam – An Invasive Species
The Scottish Invasive Species Initiative was covered on BBC Landward recently. This is a project funded over the next 3 years to tackle invasive species within several areas including Tayside.
South Perth Greenspace Group volunteer in Greenspaces owned by the Council and other landowners including Dupplin Estate. The rain didn’t dampen the sprits of eight enthusiastic volunteers who coppiced an area of Craigie Community Wood 24th November .
Coppicing is the traditional rural skill of cutting small trees to encourage more small stems to grow back. This adds diversity to the woodland by creating more variety of tree ages and the new stems are favoured as bird nesting sites.
Traditionally, most broadleaf trees were coppiced to provide wood for a long list of household items such as furniture and broom handles. All the branches cut on Saturday will be used to create traditional fencing and the cut stumps will produce new shoots in the spring. The area was fenced by the Tay Landscape Partnership to prevent rabbit and deer nibbling on the tasty fresh shoots.
Thank you to South Perth Greenspace Group for all their hard work and to Torquil Varity for his coppicing expertise and advice.
South Perth Greenspace Group meet every month on the first Tuesday at 7.30pm in the Glenearn Community Campus and new faces are always very welcome.
Badger the Collie was a great help while coppicing!
In order to keep the paths on our countryside sites in good condition we need to prevent too much water from the undergrowth from flowing onto the path. Of course, it is never possible to keep the path completely dry, so the path is usually shaped to ensure that water is able to run off the path rather than puddling. An important method for this is to have drainage ditches on some of the wetter parts of the paths to allow water to run away from, and underneath, the paths. At this time of year, once all the leaves have come off the trees, it isn’t unusual to find that drains suddenly become clogged – more so if the drains haven’t been cleared for a couple of years.
We were recently joined by the Police Scotland Youth Volunteers (PSYV) to undertake some work on the drainage ditches on Kinnoull Hill Woodland Park to maintain the high quality paths. Despite a bit of rain, the 13 volunteers worked along a stretch of the pathway on the western side of Kinnoull Hill. While in the area we took the opportunity to remove some of the younger beech trees, in keeping with our long-term plan of encouraging the regeneration of native oak, birch and pines trees.
The PSYV did a fantastic job, both at clearing the ditches and removing surrounding vegetation and beech. Although the ditches hadn’t quite reached the stage of being fully clogged up the difference before and after was still quite significant, and now the ditches should be good for a couple more years. To find out more about the PSYV visit their website or check them out on their Facebook page.
On the 6th of September I was set on a journey through to MaCrosty Park in Crieff to help out Alan with the Green Routes to wellbeing. Unfortunately due to the poor weather Green Routes had to be called off.
Despite the weather Alan and I decided to soldier on and started to work on this over grown lade. Although the lade had started to look like more of a jungle than a lade we managed to get quite a lot of work done and managed to get the lade water back to a good flow.
Although the weather was quite miserable I really enjoyed the day.
Many people think of most wildlife slowing down for the winter or, in the case of some birds, flying to warmer climates. But, there is still plenty of wildlife to be seen – including some special winter visitors!
Red squirrels are still busy looking for food to store away for the winter months. They are frequently seen foraging on the forest floor or scrambling up the trunk of a pine tree. Your best chance of seeing them is to look in your local coniferous woodlands. Be aware of them running across the road though, as they don’t have very good road sense! Find out where they have been spotted recently on the Red Squirrels in Perth and Kinross Facebook page
Red squirrel and a blue-tit at a feeder spotted by Ranger Calum. Do you know of any feeders near you?
One sound that is often associated with the arrival of the colder months is the calls from large flocks of geese flying overhead. You may see the large “V” formations as they pass by. Did you know that this “V” is a great example of teamwork? Each bird flying reduces the air and wind resistance for the bird behind, allowing them to fly further before getting tired – they also take it in turns to fly at the front!
If you are lucky, you may even have some new faces in your garden. One special winter visitor is the Waxwing. This bird flies over from Scandinavia to find food, sometimes in quite large numbers. Keep an eye out for them gathered in small-to-medium flocks in Rowan or Hawthorn Trees. There are plenty others to be found; including goldfinches, long-tailed tits, blackbirds, woodpeckers and more.
The acrobatic long-tailed tits are great fun to watch – look for them in hedgerows, bushes and low trees
What wildlife have you seen in your area? Let us know in the comments below!
The Auchterarder Sports and Recreation Path Group have been going from strength to strength with almost a full year worth of tasks now under their belt.
The group were out on the Provost walk again this time starting from the primrose park end and managing the vegetation going along phase two of the walk. We noticed that there was some Himalayan balsam coming from the stream but unfortunately all the seeds had already popped on this. This will be something the group will tackle next year as it is only a small amount and easily manageable.
The group split in to two smaller groups with one group focusing on strimming the edges and the other group cutting back any woody plants or branches along the length.
A special thank you to Bear Scotland who have been very supportive of the group and were able to provide some willing volunteers!
The next focus for the group will be to get out on the paths and figure out what is needing to be done over the next 6 months looking at the wider network above and beyond the improved footpaths.
If you are interested in joining the group on one of the tasks please contact Alan Dorman- email@example.com
Crieff Community Trust Path group were hard at work again. This time on a section of the Knock Promoted Path running along the back of the golf course. The path had become severely overgrown with rhododendron and laurel over the years to where it was only passible in single file.
The group decided to take this on and improve it to make it easier for all access takers.
Working away cutting back the rhododendron
They proceeded to hack away at the bushes to original path width leaving the cut material in habitat piles in the open areas next to the path. The next step will be to re-grade the path and take it back to its original width and put some additional path materials down to re-secure the path.
It was a great day and the group had a lot to show for their efforts!