When we came to visit my Mum in June, when the sea was looking particularly calm and serene and the landscape was bathed in sunshine, I asked her if she ever regretted being in that location, so far away from most of the family. She thought about it briefly and said she did miss the presence of trees, but on balance she would still rather be here (hmm, didn’t mention family, who have to travel up to 500 miles to visit…). Faced with the choice of sea or trees, the Golfer and I immediately knew we would choose trees.
Trees are sparse on many if not all of the Inner and Outer Hebridean islands because of their exposed positions, and many a tree or garden plant has been devastated instantly by a sudden blast from an icy and salt laden north or easterly or Atlantic strength westerly gale although sheltered areas often have a completely different microclimate. My parents rescued a tiny larch from the roadside soon after they came here 25 years ago and this has survived in the garden but with the periodic loss of limbs to frostbite, and has succumbed to the usual covering of lichen that appears to be the norm in this area. Every spring (late, here) it delights as the insanely fresh green new leaves open in sharp contrast to the greyness of the surrounding twigs. The rowan, another local native, arrived uninvited and has several relatives in the vicinity, the birds helping themselves to the sporadic berry bounty and leaving their calling card. It occurs to me as I write this that it is a long time since I have made rowan jelly, since having my own garden and produce has rendered picking from the wild unnecessary, whilst my Mum wonders about making jelly to reduce the rowan’s progeny….