7 November 2020
Bannockburn House Gardener Margaret Pollock reflects on the changing seasons:

It was spring when I last walked into the depths of the woodland at the house so it was with some excitement that I made the trip a few days ago, whilst the leaves were still clustered in reds and yellows on the trees and before the bracken collapses.

I was searching for saplings. They’re not easy to spot among the fallen leaves, but once you have your eye ‘in’ you begin to notice the various shapes belonging to other vegetation on the woodland floor and soon I had discovered 5 new oak trees that have begun to grow this year. 

woodcockThe woods were moist, smelling richly of moss and mushrooms with raindrops dripping readily from the overhead leaves. I had my head down staring intently at the ground when a startled woodcock exploded out of the rusty bracken and with a whirr of wings quickly disappeared from view across the trees.

I don’t know who was more surprised but I managed the briefest of views as it flew off at full tilt, the beautiful speckled russet coloured feathers, the furiously flapping wings and the distinctive zig zag flight. Is it a resident or a winter visitor? Who knows? Either way, it was breathtaking moment. 

Many people think of this time of the year as an ending. The leaves have fallen, the nights are closing in and the sun is a fading memory but for gardeners this is a busy time. A time for new beginnings. Vegetable beds are cleared out and dressed with a layer of rich mulch that will feed the worms and soil organisms for next year’s growing season. Weeds are blitzed, paths topped up and new beds created. Everything gets tidied and put to sleep before the fierce winter weather arrives so although it might not look interesting, everything is ready and waiting for those first rays of warm sunshine to curl around the garden again.

The tomatoes and courgettes are a memory and spring bulbs have yet to show.  Our summer of vegetable growing has come to an abrupt end and now we have time to dream of flower-filled borders and neat rows of fruit and vegetables as we sit by the fire on a cosy evening. 

November is a time to reflect on the year that is passing, the highs and the lows, the old and the new and especially a time to remember those we have lost.

Two years ago we dedicated a Laburnum Tree to the memory of Lt. Col James Mitchell, a son of Bannockburn House who died on April 1st, 1918 from wounds received in battle. He and his brother gave their lives along with many others from Bannockburn and we remember their sacrifice this Sunday.

By sharing this photo, taken last year, we can share in that memory and ponder on how different things might have been.