The fabulous weather is back and we decided that it was a good day to tackle some of the changes we wanted to make down on Jimmy’s walk. We currently have Nona, our very first live in volunteer helping out around the property so the three of us headed down with a variety of tools loaded into the wheelbarrows to see how much we could accomplish in a day. Nona and James both started with strimming on both sides of the path while I cut back some unwanted plants around the pond. Once they had revealed a large area I went in and hand pulled the longer grass around some of the smaller plants and flowers that we have been adding to the area recently. They then began placing some new plants around and digging them in while I trimmed back growth around the bases of trees. It was so satisfying to see the results and in the process we came up with some new ideas of plants that might do well in the area. It just so happened to be a perfect day for a BBQ so I ran off to the shop for some supplies and we enjoyed a relaxing evening with friends after a hard days work.
Rhododendron ponticum is everywhere on Rudha More and in some cases it is good as it creates a wind block and when we do remove it thought must go into how we can add new wind defences. There are spots all along the woodland walk where we are doing this, some small and some large. We have been advised that if you keep cutting back the same spot after 3-4 times it should start to die off so it is important to go back to areas we have started on and make sure we continue the cut backs. A popular spot on the walk which looks toward Duncraig Castle and has been recently named Proposal Point was where I was working the other day. It wasn’t a big job, it only filled on wheel barrow but it is one of those little jobs that need to be fit in regularly to keep the culling process working. So here are some before and after photos and the nice thing about clearing this spot is that as you enter the woodland walk from the upper meadow you get a nice peak toward the castle which would be otherwise blocked by the ponticum.
Of course sorting the drainage at the bottom of the meadow is a massive job and I have had to take pause to repair equipment, order materials and wait for materials to arrive. It has been amazing to see the amount of water that is and has been trying to flow out of this area! I have now dug a large ditch on either side of the path and several routes through. I have started laying out the piping and making sure that it is all draining the way I want it to before I start to put things back in order.
There is still a lot to do to finish it off and get the walk reopened which must be done in time for the tree planting party that we are planning for the end of March. We have been donated 420 trees by the woodland trust and are putting on a family event to get all of them in the ground quickly!!
Storm Georgina hit us last night and we recorder winds up to 88 miles per hour at the house but across the meadow they were probably even stronger.
Thankfully the pollytunnel is holding up fine but the wind and deer fences both blew down. The wind fence is about 15 feet from the edge of the deer fence which is around the veg garden. At the moment there are only onions growing in the veg garden so the fence being compromised is not too big of an issue right now.
The wind fence is repairable and what was good to see is that the willow which we planted on the far side of the wind fence is all still standing strong in the ground. I am guessing that it has all taken root and hopefully we will soon see it starting to grow and become another layer of wind defence.
The chicken hut rolled and it has caused a little damage but nothing too major and the stained glass window is still intact!!
While having a good check around the property and clearing fallen debris after winds I discovered a deer cave in an area overgrown with rhododendron ponticum so I destroyed it! It may sound harsh but the more ways in which we can disturb the areas in which the deer live the more likely we can discourage them living here and destroying the young trees and plants.
Another surprise discovery is a pair of mink, which as the Scottish Wildlife Trust explains, are very cute but ferocious hunters and could have a terrible effect on the bird population of Rudah Mor.
I’m always amazed at how many people use Rudha Mor to jog round early morning runners are becoming a common site. Today the midges are out in full force still in the muggy weather. After a morning of filling up bird feeders, watering the greenhouse, poly tunnel and pots, I jump to a little path tidying starting at the woodland walk. It truly amazing how quickly the plant life explodes in this place, everywhere you walk there are branches encroaching on the paths and the grass just keeps reaching for the sky, There is no real time to plant or even think about the the next steps as its all just clearing a way thought the jungle at this time of year.
After clearing my way around the path edges to the lower back meadow I get distracted by the pure storm of midges and for the first time give in to them. Finding shelter in the house sheds I decide to have a measure up the building as it is in need of repair and in this process I found a whole load of hidden gems from simple things like garden twine to bracken poison, now all organised waiting to be put to good use.
Finally get the call about the cattle grid being ready for pick now just have to track down John to help install it and get the supplies in, its still going to take a whole load of people to remove the old one and even more to move the half ton replacement grid.
Finally got a spell of clear weather to take the lining boards into the new hut and fix them into place. Its taken a while to refit the inside but it is starting to take shape will look amazing when it is finished. We just need the weather to finish everything and work out a final few gremlins. As the day dried out I got to cut some of the grass. The evening was beautiful and crisp but a storm was brewing and the midges were far too bad so I decided to call it quits only to realise it was 8:45, amazing when the days get longer!
Its been a different kind of week here, a group of kids from the local high school have been here helping to clear back Rhododendron ponticum. It is pretty hard going work with the midges in full force. I have been trying to explain to them what the longterm plan is for this area so that they understand why we are doing things a particular way. The next day was all about tidying up and at first the boys didn’t see the point but soon got with it as they began to see how much better things looked.
I set Jane up on the newly fixed chipper so she could chip down all of the ponticum that we cut down. We then used this on the woodland path which really begins to help us make an impact. Jane and myself began discussing the planting ideas for the area cleared as we really need to begin propagating plants fast to be able to make maximum impact.
Lots of people walking around today. A couple who have been coming to Rudha Mor every year for 15 years where utterly blown away by the changes in one year, wood chipped paths and hints of the future to come. Lots of people getting confused by the lack of signs so we need to do something about this. The school also seemed to be very happy and were already talking about how to incorporate more learning here.
Overcast with spots of rain
lost count after 55
After a quick morning scramble to paint the new trailer before the rain came I headed off to the with my sythe in hand to clear the bramble between the boarder of Ian’s house and path that crosses the bottom of the main meadow leading to the woodland walk. With the hot sun burning down on me and the fluid swing of the sythe I managed to take down the main part of the brambles very quickly. I raked them up into piles and dragged the piles onto a piece of tarp bundled it up and took it to the burn pile.
Once the main parts of the bramble were removed I had a field of stalks standing about 10 inches high. With a pair of secateurs and a bottle of poison I started cutting their heads one by one then brushing on the nasty but needed poison. Working in here I began to see a future of a flower boarder along this stretch backed with more hedge to suppress the brambles from coming back.
Meanwhile Cat had been to Kyle and got some new brilliant white masonry paint for the front gates then started painting them. Once I had cleared up and got down to the gates I suddenly realised that I not told her about the bulbs I had put at the foot of the gate. She had cleared away the greenery at the bottom of the column so we may have lost a few new plants but the gates post are looking good. I took over and finished off the post as she got ready for yoga.
Also today met a local twitcher and we discussed the importance of identification and where we could share our finds here at Rudha Mor with local groups. We talked about species that I had already seen this year. Yellow hammers where at the top of the list for highly endangered in the area and he was delighted to hear we have two pairs of the yellow hammers on the property, this seems to be an area we could promote to attract a higher footfall.
lots of Sun
PEOPLE ON WALK
21 + 3 local
Today has been a day of seeds and planters. It started with some frustration trying to make two-bed frames in the polytunnel, but with a little more space I soon got both together and in place waiting to be filled with dirt. Meanwhile far off at the start of the drive Cat has been busy working away making two little trenches for poppies and wildflower that we will sow some seeds into today. Fingers crossed the weather is going to hold and it will be a year filled with flowers at Rudha Mor.
After having a quick coffee break the delivery van finally turned up with the quad parts. Rushed off to the lower barn to whip off the old wheel and get the new one on. Turned the key and nothing! Checked battery and decided to put it on charge. Will need to change over the starter and will try to get it up and running by tomorrow.
Back to watering and planting out seeds using 6×48 trays. Did 4 of flowers and 2 of veg. Realising we are well ahead of where we were last year as the weather seems to be amazing, sun is out most days and hot for this time of year around 11-16C. Nights are still cold whitch is going to be my problem but working on solutions for that. We’ll steam ahead hoping that the weather keeps getting warmer and the ground dryer.
Cat and I head off to sow the poppy seeds and wildflowers. We also potted up two clematis and have placed them on either side of the drive about half way up where the tree came down a few years ago. Then we went for an explore to see if we could find any fallen trees. We headed off down Ian’s walk and then following the boundary line around and down on to the back of the property. Its really diffrent when you get down towards the water level here, we must be walking on a variety of bog and heather species. We find three trees down which will make great fire wood, it may be hard to get them out but now that the quad is fixed they will be manageable to remove.
PEOPLE ON WALK
7 + 2 local
Trees, deEr and plants
Early morning, on the property before 8am planning out my day. Sorting through power issues in garage. Planted out the final few cherry trees today 4 up in the pond garden by the house and 2 down on Jimmy’s walk. I have moved some plants around on the pond side just so they fit in better and split the wild primrose and moved them closer to the start of the walk. Also moved one of the baby macabeanum Rhododendrons to another location, not 100% about it but we’ll give it some time and see.
Built cages for all the trees and double checked all the other cages to see how there holding up, everything seems well. The greenhouse is coming to life and have to figure out what to do with all the stocks (scented flower).
Took a bag of sawdust over to Jimmy’s walk to help reduce the muddy bit at the top of the steps.
Tom the gillie returned with more roe deer from last nights shoot, one more down.
Weather mostly good, cold wind
Walkers 4 + 1 local