Autumn under the Douglas firs
In the grounds of our Scottish castle we have a little piece of the American West. An earlier laird spent several happy years travelling as a fur trader in Wyoming and Oregon in the 1830s. On his return to Scotland to take up the reins of the estate, he planted the policies around the castle with species that had impressed him in America: Douglas firs and giant redwoods (Sequoiadendron giganteum). Laid out in straight avenues and winding rides, these trees have now grown to form tall columns of soaring, fragrant greenery.
On balance, I will always prefer our native broadleaf trees. This is for many reasons, not least for their seasonal variety. Evergreens make great windbreaks but can get a little monotonous: sometimes I feel that the castle is buried away like Sleeping Beauty’s castle behind high walls of conifers. And yet our avenues of Douglas firs are unique, awe-inspiring, and are one of my favourite places to walk. And even here, of course, under the dark firs, there are seasonal changes to enjoy.
The photo above was taken two years ago to the day. You can see my late beloved spaniel in the clearing.
The photos below were taken in the past day or two while our teenage puppy bounced through the bracken, some of which is taller than my seven-year old son. (If you are looking for the puppy in this picture, though, she’s not here; or if she was, she was hidden in the undergrowth!) The bracken is turning from green to russet and fawn, often all on the same frond.
At this time of year there is often a little morning mist rising from the ground, which can make the woods look quite ethereal when the sun breaks through.
The pretty spring flowers of wood sorrel have been replaced by toadstools of every size and colour,
while above, like the columns of a living cathedral, soar the trunks of the Douglas firs, draped with sweet-smelling fronds of evergreen.
You might enjoy In praise of the Douglas fir.