As for Andrea……

In the depth of January, the only sensible place to spend time is in the tropical glasshouse of the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens. A pleasing 30 degree heat and high humidity is quite enough to make you forget what is happening outside. So, this was supposed to be a post full of pictures of lush equatorial vegetation in contrast to the bare trees and soggy grass in the real world.

But the event officially known as Windstorm Andrea put paid to this. Most of the Botanics were roped off and loud with the growl of chainsaws. 25 trees were blown over or damaged, the glasshouses had lost 400 panes and were firmly shut. So the outside is all that there was to be seen:The staff all seemed suprisingly upbeat. Perhaps a nice bit of windblow is a good opportunity to replace some of the missing trees with more interesting ones. I was not upbeat. It was cold, and I had really been looking forward to the warmth of the tropics.

Back home, the garden mostly survived, apart from a larch that I planted as a seedling when I was six. It had been going back for a year or two, and Andrea finished it off:Looking at the roots, it was clear that rot had fatally weakened the whole tree. I’ll blame the rain and the clay as usual:I’ll miss this tree. It was only just younger than I am, but has rotted rather faster. On a cheery note, that’s most of next year’s firewood fixed. Larch will dry enough to burn well inside a year. So I went out in the gloom with the Beast and lit a good bonfire to console myself:I need to find some catapult elastic in a hurry. I’ve been feeding the enemy, and a catapult is a useful device for keeping it away:The elastic snapped when I went after the first squirrel of the season, and since then they have been raiding the bird food with impunity. I might have to do something creative with the power washer…

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20 thoughts on “As for Andrea……

  1. What a beautiful glasshouse – I’ve never been, but must. Frustrating to be denied access – hope they got all the panes fixed otherwise more losses? Do you put them in pies, or just shoo the squirrels away?

    • Hello Jennifer, and welcome. What a lovely blog you have – those pictures of Bryce canyon are amazing. If I ever managed to kill a squirrel, I would certainly put it in a pie.

    • The tree was about three years younger than I am. You can work out the rest by googling growth rates of European larches… As for the squirrels, you need several at a time for a stew, and I never get that lucky (OK, I suppose I could freeze them)

  2. Too bad about the tamarack, as the larch is called hereabouts–a bit different from your larch I think. But it does look ready to whittle into a caber, not just firewood surely.

  3. I do like a curmudgeonly post, Mr K. Thank you. You made me smile – though I was sorry to hear about your childhood planting coming to its premature ending. Good that it’ll keep you warm next winter though. It didn’t die in vain. Console yourself.

    Due to some tenacious squirrel control last year, I’ve not been bothered by them this year. Which is very pleasing. Very pleasing indeed. I did think briefly about eating them but frankly didn’t fancy it much. A little too ratty looking.

    Dave

  4. Must have been scary in the Botanics glasshouses when the panes first started to come out, even opening my front door a few inches in the gale cause freakish chaos inside and a vacuum. Felt like opening the door of a plane in flight.

    DId I ever invite you to join Folia (the free online gardening website)? Scottish gardens are very under represented there so I’m always looking to encourage more to join.

    It’s a great resource for gardeners and has helped me keep on top of my 800+ plantings with photo’s, notes, journals, milestones etc. They have an extensive plant wiki and a seed stash section where people can also list seeds for swapping. Here’s the link to my Folia page so you can see how it works: http://www.myfolia.com/gardener/CDfolia/invite.

    I once deterred squirrels from a window feeder by hiding under a sheet and poking them in the belly with a chopstick whenever the jumped onto the sill. I felt a bit guilty seeing their look of surprise so close up, but it did put them off. Sorry to read about the Larch, I’m glad you get some more pleasure from it in the form of heat.

    • Cally, I can’t get over this vision of you hiding under a sheet with a chopstick. Did the neighbours see? Did you have to wait a long time before a squirrel appeared? Did you do this regularly?

      • Hidden from neighbours though I’m sure the saw the astonished squirrel scarper. I did it once, felt very guilty, and passed the baton to the boyfriend thereafter (who I suspect rather enjoyed it!). It deterred all but the stalwart old guard.

  5. Hi Kininvie! It’s a shame for that beautiful and ooooooooooold tree! This Andrea really left disasters behind, didn’t it? This is the first time I hear about this Andrea but I am sure it didn’d affect the italian weather: we bought a nice kite that we want to try but there has been no signs of wind since. Disappointing.

  6. Hi K, I never realised Larch were so long lived, its a shame but at least not wasted. Oh and if you want to see something really old, pop over to my place. Don’t tell Myra what you do to squirrels though.

  7. Hi kininvie, I have not been here for a while, thanks for coming over to my blog i was reminded. I have not been going to Blotanical lately so i don’t pick anymore, it as been so slow! I missed the aftermath of my namesake, Andrea. So i wrecked havoc in your area, I am sorry, especially for your first tree-friend. I didn’t know you also get strong storms. Our first typhoon for this year also killed lots of lives and a lot more problems thereafter because of floods and landslides in areas it has not yet happened. Happy New Year!

    • Hello Andrea. Our storms are very minor compared to typhoons. But we have had a lot of them this winter, and the very wet ground eventually weakens the hold of the trees (anyway, the ones in the pictures were very old beeches – about 180 years – and were probably reaching the end of their lives in any event.

  8. Curmudgeonly what a grand word, except I know the meaning in these circumstances is quite apt, if unwelcome.

    I think the botanics staff entered into war time spirit mode, hence the cheeriness, so I hear.

    Sorry you are fabricating cabers. Maybe a few spears, for the squirrels. (rats with tails)

    Catching up.

  9. Wow, it really looks like Andrea made a real mess of things!
    I am visiting Scotland and the botanical gardens in 18 days, and so I am searching for more info on the garden. I am not much of a glass house girl, so threes and perennials will do for me.
    I hope some of the Magnolias will have come out.

    I will search you blog for more posts from the Botanical gardens. 🙂

    Thanx for sharing!

    • Hi Bonnie,
      Who knows, there may be a secret magnolia flowering in a sheltered corner – but I have my doubts, as they say. You need to be in Cornwall.

      But the bulbs will be out. You may need to take refuge on the glasshouse though – just for the warmth.

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