Bluebells and pignuts

Our next trip to the croft is in September, and itching to make a start, any kind of start, we’ve bought some seeds to sew in the established patch of woodland on the western boundary.

We can’t start anything on the main croft land until the drainage and groundworks are complete, which won’t start until the Autumn, so the little woodland belt is the place to begin some underplanting.

First off, I’ve bought pignut seeds.

Pignut is small perennial herb, whose underground root resembles a chestnut and is sometimes eaten as a wild or cultivated root vegetable. It has fascinated me for many years.

The name Pignut comes from its popularity with pigs, who root it out for its flavour, which is said to be similar to water chestnut. Wild food foragers also love it and jealously guard their sources.

Secondly, I’ve sourced some bluebell seed from a small, licensed croft on the Isle of Eigg. Eddie’s Croft.

Bluebell seed can be procured from many places, but I particularly wanted to find Scottish bluebell seed, and being so close to Skye, seed grown on Eigg will, I think, be more naturalised to the climate and conditions there. We will scatter it in the birch grove and hope that in a few years we’ll have the beginnings of a sea of blue.

It’s a small start, but it’s a start, and it’s exciting to be making our first mark on the land, however modest.

Fallen trees and a soggy bottom

It’s been a bizarely warm, cloudy day today on Skye, but we’re here! We spent the afternoon taking soil samples and exploring the croft with planting plans in mind, and it was so mild that we left our waterproofs hanging on a fence. Not at all like February.

On the western boundary of the croft is a grove of trees, providing a welcome shelter belt. At some point in the past an enormous fir tree was felled, and the trunk, denuded over time of it’s branches, still lies there.

We explored the bottom of the croft more thoroughly, a rough, overgrown area that borders the high moorland and common grazings at the back of where the house will be built.

We knew that there was a burn on the western boundary of the croft, running between us and our neighbour, but what we didn’t know was that there was a small tributary stream that runs through our land which joins the main burn, hidden in a low dip to the north.

It’s quite magical. The trees overhang the cut that the stream has carved for itself out of the bank. Everything is green, mossy and lichen-covered. Today the only sound was the gurgling of the stream, the occasional bleat of sheep and the song of the birds.

Our very own soggy bottom.