The glen in which I spent those years was full of birch, semi-natural stands of them with sheep and cattle grazing below. Up the hill, by the burns, or streams as they are known in the south, there was a scattering of them at the water’s edge. Shelter from the elements, both sun and rain, was found under them.
The birch is a really pretty tree, its stunning bark marking it out against the majority of the dull greys and browns of the other species. Unlike the stands of conifers with their sterile understorey, the birch is kind to its neighbouring vegetation. The sparsity of the stands and the light leaf cover leave the ground flora enough sunlight to get on with their lives as well. Primroses, violets, blaeberry, wood sorrel and carpets of bedstraw were my cushion on many a rabbit stalk with my .177 air rifle. The bark has made it a popular tree for parks and gardens, as even during the winter months when there are no leaves, the tree still has a beauty of its own.
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