Of trees and floods

In Spring the Spey valley is lit up by blossoming gean trees. They shine out among the shy birch and larch foliage and the dark winter green of the conifer woods. It's difficult to take a photo in my home village without a distillery popping up as well. So here I give you the Glenrothes distillery pagoda with geans, and below, the distillery warehouses.

Elsewhere in the village however trees have been sacrificed to the new flood defences. Two severe floods in recent years have led to a flood prevention scheme being put in place. Three burns run down from the hills to converge on the village. When they're in spate they're tremendously powerful, and changing rainfall patterns mean that drought is followed by concentrated heavy rains. Of course homes and businesses need to be protected, and that has to be the main concern, but walking up the course of the burn recently I wondered why so many trees needed to be cut down.

On the left in the photo below was a line of graceful, mature trees. Access was obviously needed to get in to the opposite bank, but did they need to take them all out?

Below, two houses stood where there is now new planting and a paved ramp down to the burn. The householders have been rehoused in very lovely new houses built to a high specification.

The new wall alongside distillery warehouses has led to the removal of a line of poplar trees.

Below, what used to be a small grassy field has now been landscaped within an inch of its life. It is quite startling to see urban landscaping along what used to be a natural river bank.

But here, this is where I suddenly felt a lump in my throat. They have cut down a magnificent lime tree which stood at the burn side of the green hut you can just see in the centre of the shot. It was a stately, grand tree. One of my happiest childhood memories is of standing under it when the blossom was out, listening to the "murmuring of innumerable bees" and breathing in the sweet scent as if I would somehow capture the essence of summer.

I'm doing the only thing I can do, which is to dedicate a tree through the Woodland Trust. If we had a big enough garden I would plant my own lime tree. But longer term, I have a plan for a bit of guerilla planting. I will bide my time.


  1. Hi Linda, I've popped up a map to see if I can get a visual on where Speyside is located, having trouble, do help! However, your photos of the man made riverbed prompted a lively conversation with my husband and I about how what is still called Global Warming, (not an accurate explanation of the changes in weather patterns and severity of weather that the changes are bring). Communities here in the Pacific NW have also had record floods in the past decade. However, in our situation, communities have encroached on wetlands...so it shouldn't have come as a surprise that they became flooded.

  2. I guess they have to keep the village safe. I've got plenty of space to plant a lime tree, but it wouldn't grow in my harsh, high-altitude climate.

  3. Oh, it makes me sick with impotent distress when I see trees cut down for the hell of it. In Perth the council is busy replacing the nice, carefully patterned pedestrian paved area with another version of the same thing - and cutting down all the trees in the area that were planted as part of the original landscaping. The trees must be about 20 years old now and were just starting to give shade and beauty to the concrete shopping area. All gone. What a monstrous waste of money, as well as a waste of trees. At least your flood defences are of practical use, though that doesn't bring the trees back.

    This is why private estates are favoured by Botanic Gardens as 'safe sites' for nurturing rare trees: no council numpty can come along and chop them down as part of some new policy initiative. Imagine the uproar if private owners were to behave the same way! Good for you for doing something constructive with your feelings through the Woodland Trust. And good luck with the guerilla planting.

  4. Beautiful Scotland. I never tire of seeing your lovely photos and always wish for MORE!!

  5. Jenni, hopefully the link I've given you will help. There's quite a problem here too with new building on flood plains. I'm intrigued to have sparked a lively debate in your house!

    Al, safeguarding property and livelihoods of course has to be the priority. I'm not sure where the northern limit for limes is in Scotland - a bit north of Inverness possibly?

    dancingbeastie, I agree, what a wanton waste by Perth Council. That's interesting about Botanic Gardens favouring private estates, and what a sad commentary on short-termism by councils.

    Linda, I will try to oblige. Sometimes daily life gets in the way!

  6. Thanks for the link Linda :) Hubby and I love a good debate but it isn't much of a debate as we're generally on the same page. Always enjoy your photos!

  7. These areas have a saddening look today, but they will guerilla plant themselves until somebody comes and clears them again. I look forward to your pics of next spring.

  8. Goodmorning Linda, thanks for these lovely photos and your interesting post...I know we have been very lucky to make some sunny photos at Skye..the rain and clouds came qickly afterwards, but we despite the rain we have had a lovely time...last day today...
    Erna xx

  9. Oh dear. It all looks so stark. I am sorry about the lime. I would feel exactly the same. In time, green will take over and the hard edges will soften,but that will take a lot of time. I like the sound of the guerilla planting! How will you protect it against marauding grazing animals, or big mowing machines? Good luck anyway.

  10. I always hate seeing trees cut down, even for "good enough" reasons. In fact, my husband and I have had a few quick and semi-heated conversations about a maple tree in our back yard. He says it's dead, and I argue that it still has green leaves on it. These conversations have been going on every spring/summer/fall for the last five years, and the maple tree is still there. :-)
    Your village is still beautiful, Linda, and your memories of the bees and the lime tree will always be as well!

  11. Seeing a favorite tree cut down is like losing a friend. I hate to even prune plants. Even when I know it's a good thing, it still makes me sad.

    We're anticipating a big flood season here if it ever stops snowing!

  12. Hello Linda,

    I too get distressed over any type of tree removal. It seems sad to remove a tree that is perfectly healthy instead of planing around the saving of it.

  13. Ohhhh...it is so hard to see favorite "wilderness" areas cut, shaped and manicured! I remember when neighbors cut down an old pepper tree in their yard which was on the corner of our street and the cross street...my heart broke! The good news is that the new plants that were planted will grow and fill in...it will be nice, and at some point, will be someone else's favorite spot to walk...

  14. PS...your top two shots are fabulous!!! I love the foggy shot with just the roof of the distillery....and the other shot is wonderful two!!!

    My home in Glendale CA, where I grew up and went back to when I married my husband, is changing dramatically. It was a quintessential Americana, Leave it to Beaver kind of neighborhood....and now newcomers are coming in and building new contemporary styled buildings, changing bits and pieces of the architecture of buildings and homes just enough that it ruins the charm of the old style and doesn't quite come up to a good contemporary design...it's hard to see these changes...my heart goes out to you Linda!

  15. In East Des Moines they have always had major flooding problems because of the river. After fourteen years of waiting on the federal government to do it studies they finally are putting in the large levee. It of course did require that major amounts of trees had to be removed. Once the floods stops they can start replanting a few trees. Your area looks well decorated with walls etc.


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