144 posts in the category

The treeblog trees

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treeblog update (Set A, Day 590): grey alders & Scots pines

treeblog update time for Set A’s four grey alders and two Scots pines! Photography from this afternoon, 590 days after the seeds of Set A were sown.

(From left to right) I present to thee grey alders One, Two and Three. Still bravely holding onto their caterpillar-savaged leaves despite the ravages of autumn.

Grey alder No. 4, treeblog’s greatest son.

Scots pines Gamma (left) and Alpha (right). All of the juvenile needles on both SPs have now turned yellow, although it is tricky to see in this little photo (click the picture to see a larger version on Flickr). The adult needles, which are always arranged in pairs on Scots pines, stay green as these guys aren’t deciduous. Check out SP Alpha’s two little chimney sweep brush-esque branches. I predict great things from those next year.

Bonus “treeblog’s good for insects” photos

I found this excellent caterpillar right at the top of grey alder No. 1. Isn’t its head an incredible imitation of a bud! This was the only one I could see on the alders today – no sign of the other caterpillars.

Take a closer look at that awesome bud-head. My sister reckons it looks like a meerkat looking backwards over its shoulder!

A lovely leafhopper on grey alder No. 4. I saw a few more of these guys chilling around.

The next post should be the cider gums' turn for an update, weather permitting. ‘Til then, sayonara!

Posted in The treeblog trees

Caterpillars on the alders

two caterpillars in alder leaf den

(The photos in this post can be viewed at a higher resolution – click them to open their Flickr pages, then click the 'All sizes' button.)

caterpillar hiding between alder stipules

silky caterpillar den on alder leaf

two caterpillars hiding between alder stipules

treeblog’s grey alders sure have received a pasting from caterpillars this summer, No. 4 being the worst affected. Back in mid-August I posted a photo of a cluster of small translucent and green caterpillars on alder No. 1. Much bigger caterpillars are still munching away – I’m assuming that these are more mature specimens of the flavour photographed in August and not caterpillars of a different species. The four photos above were taken nearly three weeks ago on the 28th of September (the date of the last grey alder and Scots pine update) and show the big-size caterpillars. If anybody recognizes this species please email me at the address shown at the top of the page.

P.S. Earlier today... a third v. successful nut-collecting trip to that sweet chestnut!

Posted in The treeblog trees

Gathering sweet chesntuts for Set C

sweet chestnuts

(The photos in this post can be viewed at a higher resolution – click them to open their Flickr pages, then click the ‘All sizes’ button.)

Sweet chestnuts. I have a desire to see sweet chestnut trees in the treeblog stables, and I know the perfect thoroughbred stallion to sire them. Last year, after jumping the gun a few times, I got hold of a tub of chestnuts from this hoss and planted thirty in March of this year for treeblog’s Set B. Not a single nut germinated. In fact Set B only produced one seedling, and that didn’t live very long. Set B was a massive failure.

sweet chestnuts

2009 will be the year of treeblog’s Set C, and this time there will be sweet chestnuts. I’ve been back to the parent tree twice this week – on Saturday and Thursday – and I have collected a shed-load of nuts. I reckon I must have got about 150. So there is no way treeblog is coming away empty-handed in 2009. Set C is going to be sweet.

pile of sweet chestnuts

The chestnuts I gathered on my forays.

Posted in The treeblog trees

treeblog update (Set A, Day 558): cider gums

Not had a cider gum update for thirty-four days. Sorry. Little bit slack, that. But now here are all fifteen Set A cider gums, photographed today: Set A Day 558.

Cider gums Nos. 1, 2 and 4.

Cider gums Nos. 5, 7 and 8. No. 7 is still the tallest gum.

Cider gums Nos. 9, 10 and 11.

Cider gums Nos. 12, 13 and 14. Lots of nice branching.

Cider gums Nos. 3, 6 and 15: the Runts.

Aaah yes, long time no see. It’s the only surviving (of two) awkwardly-named post-Set A unknown seedling. What this seedling is, I still don’t know. But it hasn’t been looking too healthy as of late. The tip of the leading shoot has died, but there is a new shoot on the twisty lower stem. Is it a tree? Is it a weed? It’s the post-Set A unknown seedling.

Posted in The treeblog trees

treeblog update (Set A, Day 550): grey alders & Scots pines

Finally, a good old-fashioned treeblog Set A update. This post holds tree blogging gold: photos of all four grey alders and both Scots pines, thirty-five days since the last equivalent update. Thirty-five days – five weeks – is a long time, and the grey alders have grown a lot. The Scots pines haven’t changed much, but that’s no problem. I took the photos this afternoon – Day 550, or Sunday the 28th of September, 2008 if you prefer. Now without further ado, check out these six beauts:

Grey alder No. 1. No longer leaning but standing tall.

Grey alder No. 2. Letting the side down by looking a little wilty. Can't be having that.

Grey alder No. 3. Looking pretty cool having lost its lower leaves, like a real tree in miniature.

Grey alder No. 4. Still the Beast, but looking very sorry for itself after losing a significant amount of leaf area to the hungry mouths of caterpillars. I took a few photos of these cheeky buggers today which will no doubt feature in a future post.

Scots pine Alpha. Always looks as if it’s being electrocuted.

Scots pine Gamma.

The grey alders are huge now. Very impressive sizes for two growing seasons. In fact they are still growing, churning out new buds and leaves on almost a daily basis. To give an idea of size, grey alder No. 4 reaches waist height (including its pot). The Alpha Scots pine, in comparison, is about as the same size as a big, spread-out hand. It’s quite amazing comparing the grey alders and Scots pines as they are today with how they were five months ago, at the end of April and the beginning of 2008’s growing season. Take a look at this treeblog update from Day 397 (April 28th). Just incredible! The power of trees.

Next post? The cider gum update, of course.

Posted in The treeblog trees

Collecting rowan berries and downy birch seeds

There’s been a small voice in the back of my head lately and it’s been telling me to go and get the berries and seeds I need for treeblog’s Set C. So today I went on a wander to see what I could do about it. I’m going to be planting three species of tree for Set C: downy birch (Betula pubescens), rowan (Sorbus aucuparia), and sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa).

the rowan

I already have some rowan berries from the fallen rowan that I collected on the 15th of August, six weeks ago to the day. It’s a good job I collected those when I did because the last time I saw the fallen rowan, just over a week ago, there wasn’t a single berry left on it. But there was another rowan I wanted berries from – the one in the photo above - and I’ve paid it a visit today. Its berries were very ripe and quite a lot had been shed. I gathered up a fair few, some from the ground and some still on the tree.

the downy birch

My next port of call was this big old downy birch (probably - it might be a silver birch), only a short walk from the rowan. Whilst not a very tall tree, its short trunk has an impressive girth to about one metre from the floor, where it splits into numerous spreading branches. The approach to this tree is a little bit special. You have to squeeze down a narrow cow-made path through a cluster of young birches and pines, which happen to frame this picturesque tree as it squats in its own little clearing on the edge of open moorland. When I arrived, seeds were collected. Hundreds of them.

a pearl-studded puffball

There were a lot of these pearl-studded puffballs (Lycoperdon perlatum) under the big birch. I saw plenty of these looking well past their best at the end of February down in Thetford Forest when I was collecting data from a silver birch provenance trial. My guess is that this species of puffball is associated with birch, perhaps in a mycorrhizal role.

In other treeblog news... (1) I still need to collect sweet chestnuts, but I might not be able to get my hands on them for a while yet; and (2) this blog is well overdue a Set A update.

Posted in Gone for a walk + The treeblog trees

treeblog update (Set A, Day 524): cider gums

Another month, and another treeblog update. This time it’s the turn of Set A’s cider gums. I took the photographs earlier today (Day 524).

cider gums Nos. 1 and 2

Cider gums Nos. 1 (left) and 2 (right).

cider gums Nos. 4 and 5

Cider gums Nos. 4 (left) and 5 (right).

cider gums Nos. 7 and 8

Cider gums Nos. 7 (left) and 8 (right). No. 7 is the reigning gum champion, height-wise.

cider gums Nos. 9 and 10

Cider gums Nos. 9 (left) and 10 (right).

cider gums Nos. 11 and 12

Cider gums Nos. 11 (left) and 12 (right).

cider gums Nos. 13 and 14

Cider gums Nos. 13 (left) and 14 (right).

cider gums Nos. 3, 6 and 15

Cider gums Nos. 3 (left), 6 (centre), and 15 (right).

It is interesting how the cider gums differ from one another in terms of colour; some (e.g. No. 13) have very light green leaves, while others (e.g. No. 12) have darker, blue-green leaves. I wonder why?

Posted in The treeblog trees

treeblog update (Set A, Day 515): grey alders and Scots pines

It’s time for another look at treeblog’s four grey alders and two Scots pines from Set A. I took the photos earlier today, 515 days after planting these beasts as seeds! The four alders are now sitting in huge black pots, after a repotting session last week.

grey alder No. 1

Grey alder No. 1. This one has quite a lean going on, but it is exaggerated in this photo by some hefty wind.

grey alder No. 2

Grey alder No. 2. Still the smallest of the alders, but not so noticeably as at the beginning of the summer.

grey alder No. 3

Grey alder No. 3.

grey alder No. 4

Grey alder No. 4. The Beast is looking much more ‘3D’ as it beefs up its branches.

Alpha Scots pine

The Alpha Scots pine. The Scots pines seemed to have slowed down to almost a stand-still, growth-wise. They look tiny compared with the alders!

tiny branch on Alpha Scots pine

The Alpha pine does have this nifty little branch, however – the first one seen on a treeblog Scots pine.

Gamma Scots pine

The Gamma Scots pine.

Looking good, aren’t they? Next post I’ll show you the cider gums...

Posted in The treeblog trees

Collecting berries from a favourite rowan, Upper Midhope

It was a nice day on Friday, so I went for a walk around Langsett. I’ve been fancying growing some rowans for treeblog’s Set C (coming 2009), and it just so happened that my route took me past a couple of my favourites. The berries on the first rowan weren’t quite ripe, so I’ll have to go back in a week or so. The second rowan is a tree with plenty of character. Situated at the edge of a country lane a stone’s throw away from the pretty hamlet of Upper Midhope, half of the tree is a bleached silver skeleton. The other half of the tree, which forks in two about a metre from the ground, is also mostly dead but retains enough greenery to keep ticking over. It’s a beautiful tree, as you can see yourself from the photos below, which I took one fine day in the 2006 heatwave – August 24th.

the rowan

the bleached, dead half

looking up at the foliage

Until two days ago, I don’t think I’ve been past this rowan in the two years since I took those photos. Nevertheless, I had this charismatic tree in mind when I set off on my walk and it was my purpose to collect some of its berries for treeblog’s Set C. Imagine my dismay as I crested a ridge and couldn’t see the tree in its usual place. As I got closer, I found out why.

the rowan resting on a dry stone wall, having fallen over

What a shame! I don’t know if it was blown down in a storm, or whether it just collapsed – the base was pretty rotten (see the final photograph). The tree is still alive and its usual canopy is alive and well, complete with several clusters of berries. I guess the tree must have come down this year, judging by the angle of this year’s growth. What I don’t know is how long it has been this way. If it only came down recently – and we had some pretty nasty weather a week or so ago – the foliage may still look healthy even though the tree has no chance of surviving the coming months. Yet I hope that there is still enough vascular tissue connecting the roots to the now-horizontal upper parts for this rowan to continue to live for years to come. I also hope no farmer comes along and clears it away.

I collected a couple of berry clusters, which will be planted for treeblog’s next set. It’ll be a pleasure to raise this tree’s offspring.

the rowan lying on the wall

the rotten base

[Update (14 February 2009): The rowan is still in situ and it is still alive!]

[Update (24th May 2009): I visited today but the fallen tree has been cleared away, leaving just a stump. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that its seeds I planted for Set C germinate.]

Posted in The treeblog trees

treeblog alders host to caterpillars and insect eggs

There is bad news for treeblog’s grey alders: they are getting nibbled on! The cider gums and the Scots pines remain unnoticed by pests but the four alders are hosting aphids, caterpillars, leafhoppers and/or froghoppers, miscellaneous eggs… and those are just the things that I’ve noticed. Many of the leaves are full or holes or are blighted by conspicuous dead patches. Some parts of leaves have been folded over and glued together by the silk of tiny caterpillars.

All of the photos in this post are of grey alder No. 1, one of the worst affected by these insect terrors.

swarm of tiny caterpillars on alder leaf

Tiny caterpillars swarm on the underside of a badly damaged leaf. [7th August]

damaged alder leaves

A view of the upper side of the same leaf alongside another leaf, damaged but not yet even fully unfurled. [7th August]

insect eggs beneath alder leaf

Insect eggs on the underside of a leaf, seen on the 7th of August. Notice the two oval eggs on the left, obviously belonging to a different species than the main body of round eggs.

insect eggs beneath alder leaf

A day later, on the 8th, and the round eggs have changed from white to caramel in colour.

insect eggs beneath alder leaf

A closer look reveals the eggs to be patterned, I guess from when they were squeezed out by the parent.

insect eggs beneath alder leaf

A few days later on the 12th of August and the eggs are now a dark purple / slate greyish colour. When will they hatch, and what will come out of them?

insect eggs beneath alder leaf

Update: The same cluster of eggs on the 15th of August. Notice how the two white eggs on the left have now hatched.

Posted in The treeblog trees

treeblog update (Set A, Day 497):
cider gums Nos. 8 to 15

Cider gums Nos. 8 to 15, as they were on Wednesday the 6th (Day 497). There’s nothing more to say!

cider gum No. 8

Cider gum No. 8.

cider gum No. 9

Cider gum No. 9.

cider gum No. 10

Cider gum No. 10.

cider gum No. 11

Cider gum No. 11.

cider gum No. 12

Cider gum No. 12.

cider gum No. 13

Cider gum No. 13 – one half of the Branching Duo.

cider gum No. 14

Cider gum No. 14 – the other half of the Duo.

cider gum No. 15

Cider gum No. 15 – one of the smallest gums.

Don’t they all look swell? Come back next time for photos of things that are eating treeblog’s alders!

Posted in The treeblog trees

treeblog update (Set A, Day 497):
cider gums Nos. 1 to 7

(All photos in this post were taken yesterday – Day 497.) Before I begin reeling off the cider gums - Nos. 1 to 7 today and Nos. 8 to 15 in the next post – I’d like to show you a couple of photos of grey alder No. 1. The last post, on Tuesday, showed the four alders looking rather limp and dehydrated. But worry not! After taking appropriate measures, they have all perked up and are looking fine again.

grey alder No. 1

Grey alder No. 1 looking fine and dandy just two days after being all limp and flaccid.

leaf damage to grey alder No. 1

Some of the alders have leaf damage like this, which was found on No. 1. When I looked under the leaf, I found the culprit (inset) which looks like a leafhopper or a froghopper to me. I left it to its meal.

cider gum No. 1

Cider gum No. 1.

close up of cider gum No. 1’s main stem showing lenticels

A closer look at the main stem of cider gum No. 1 showing the lumpy surface typical to all of the cider gums. I guess the lumps must be lenticels, structures that allow gaseous exchange with the atmosphere.

cider gum No. 2

Cider gum No. 2.

cider gum No. 3

Cider gum No. 3: once affectionately known as ‘the Freak’, I don’t think it fair to call it that any longer. No. 3 is still one of the runts though, along with Nos. 6 and 15.

cider gum No. 4

Cider gum No. 4.

cider gum No. 5

Cider gum No. 5.

cider gum No. 6

Cider gum No. 6. This seedling has made some amazing progress since the beginning of the growing season (about the end of April), when it appeared as if it would never amount to anything.

cider gum No. 7

Cider gum No. 7: the biggest of all the cider gums. Top Gum.

the base of cider gum No. 7's main stem

The base of cider gum No. 7's main stem, now lignified. The yellowish balls are food pellets.

It’s worth having a look at the Photo-timelines page where you can see uninterrupted the progress of each of the treeblog seedlings. From the cider gums shown above, the most interesting Photo-timelines to have a look at might be those for No. 3, No. 6, and No. 7.

Posted in The treeblog trees

treeblog update (Set A, Day 495)

Before I get on with the Set A stuff, I want to sort out a few loose threads. I want to cut one off and I want to weave the other back into the treeblog tapestry. Remember the only tree seedling that grew from Set B - the downy birch? In this post from the beginning of July I remarked that “it’s not exactly radiating health”. Well I don’t know when it happened, but it died. Not exactly a surprise, but it would have been nice to have had something to show from the miserable Set B.

The second loose end is a seedling that is from neither Set A nor Set B, but rather somewhere in between. I’m going to call it the post-Set A unknown seedling from now on until I can identify whatever the hell it is. I am talking about the surviving seedling of the two found in the Set A alder seed tray last winter. At first I thought they were another two alders that were just late in sprouting. When it became apparent that they weren’t alders, I thought that they might be birches. Then one died, and it is now apparent that the survivor isn’t a birch. So now I am wondering whether it might be a willow, but I suppose that it’s probably just a weed.

post-Set A unknown seedling

The surviving post-Set A unknown seedling (photograph taken yesterday). Check out the Photo-timeline for this seedling.

Let’s crack on with the Set A update. Today I have photos of the alders and Scots pines, and in a few days time I’ll have another update for the cider gums. First of all, I must say that I have been wrong about the alders. I have been calling them common alders (Alnus glutinosa), but it has become apparent that they aren’t. I have become almost certain, however, that they are in fact grey alders (Alnus incana). I have reached this conclusion after staring at leaves that don’t look much like common alder leaves but look a lot like grey alder leaves. Long time readers of treeblog may remember that I originally called the alders ‘treeblog surprises’. The reason behind this is explained in this post from October 2007. If you read that post, you’ll see the following:

So why the uncertainty over whether the treeblog surprises are common alders or not? Well, I know for a fact that they are alders. I’m just ever so slightly unsure as to the species of alder. I am willing to bet good money that they are common alders, that species being native to most of Britain. But I know that the grey alder (Alnus incana) is often planted on reclaimed tips (according to my Collins Field Guide Trees of Britain and Northern Europe by Alan Mitchell, 1974) – i.e. Gowkley Moss [where I collected the seed]. And seeing as how my memory… is pretty rubbish, I’m not sure what species of alder I was collecting seed from. Pretty stupid of me, but to be fair it was winter, the trees were leafless, and I wasn’t an expert in telling apart common and grey alder.

So if I had “bet good money” that treeblog’s alders are common alders I would have lost it all, what with the people reclaiming the Gowkley Moss coal bing obviously having planted grey alders. Bloody typical. But not the end of the world. So as not to mislead future treeblog visitors who may browse the archives or arrive via a search engine, I have updated all previous posts and images relating to treeblog’s common – I mean grey – alders. What fun!
Anyway, here are all four grey alders as they were yesterday – Day 495:

grey alders Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4

Grey alders (from left to right) Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4. No. 4 truly is something incredible. But there is bad news. As you might be able to see from the photo, Nos. 1 and 2 are wilting at the top, and No. 4 has a few damaged leaves. The wilting is obviously caused by lack of water and the soil in the pots was bone dry, even though they were watered the night before. Just one morning in the sun had dried the soil out completely. These trees need planting into the ground a.s.a.p., but as I have nowhere to plant them the best I can do is get them in some really big pots. At least it rained all day today.

Scots pine Alpha

The Alpha Scots pine. Good to see its spindly lower stem has thickened up, but Ah dinnae ken what to think about its bizarrely long needles. I’m sure they’re not normal.

Scots pine Gamma

The Gamma Scots pine. Again, what’s with the outlandishly long needles?

This month's Festival of the Trees (No. 26) can be found over at Fox Haven Journal. Go read!

Posted in The treeblog trees

Set A super treeblog update (Day 480)

It’s been a while since you last got a good look at the treeblog trees, so why not take the time to welcome them back into your life with this one-parter Set A super treeblog update? (Photos kindly taken by my father on Sunday the 20th – Day 480).

grey alders Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4

First up, the grey alders. All four show fine growth, with Nos. 1, 2 and 3 doing quite well at playing catch-up with the monstrous No. 4. Alas, No. 4 isn’t the perfect picture of health I’ve become accustomed to; notice a few shrivelled leaves amongst its ample canopy. I suppose this may have something to do with how small the pot is in comparison to the tree, so I’ve asked my father for a re-potting favour. I guess they could all do with bigger pots, but that’ll have to wait a couple of weeks for my return.

Alpha and Gamma Scots pines

The Scots pines; Alpha on the left and Gamma on the right. Both of these bendy-stemmers are supported by crutches, as are all the tall cider gums. I think that’s quite shameful, but at least the alders can stand up on their own.

cider gums Nos. 1, 3, 4, 6, 11 and 15

Cider gums Nos. 1, 3, 4, 6, 11 and 15: the Small and the Runts. No. 1 is looking quite good these days, and its one of the proper branchers. No. 4 and No. 11, with its flopped-over top, look like they have produced their first lateral branches. Nos. 3, 6 and 15 are as runtish as ever, sadly.

 cider gums Nos. 2, 5, 8, 9 and 10

Cider gums Nos. 2, 5, 8, 9 and 10: the Tall. Aren’t these all pleasingly uniform? Nos. 2, 9 and 8 all appear to have put out their first branches, but I don’t think Nos. 5 and 10 are ready to play the branching game just yet.

 cider gums Nos. 7, 12, 13 and 14

Cider gums Nos. 7, 12, 13 and 14: the Very Tall. All have now well exceeded their crutches, so that is a problem that needs remedying. See how Nos. 7, 14 and especially 12 have a pronounced lean in the main stem once it is no longer tethered to a crutch. The strangest thing about this photo is the fact that No. 13, the Branch Master, is a totally different shade of green to the other three. I wonder why? No. 14, the other half of the Branching Duo is almost exactly the same height as its partner in crime, which is nice. The Top Gum (heightwise) - No. 7 - has a branch, but No. 12 hasn’t.

And there ends this super treeblog update - the next one should be online in about a fortnight. Until then, you can look forward to a post about a visit to a very rare tree. So long!

Posted in The treeblog trees

Super treeblog seedling update (Day 458): Part II

The latest super treeblog seedling update continues... All fifteen cider gums from Set A are out on parade today. Some have seen exceptional growth since the last update at the beginning of June (Day 432); others have grown very little, and should be met with frowns. The photos were taken a little over a week ago now, on Saturday the 28th of June (with the exception of a couple taken four days later on July the 2nd). Take it away Number 1:

cider gum No. 1

Cider gum No. 1. Only small, but it is one of the few that have grown branches already.

cider gums Nos. 2, 4 and 5

Cider gums Nos. 5 (left), 4 (centre) and 2 (right). Not particularly big, but all three have a bit of a lean on. Perhaps some kebab skewer intervention will be required soonish. No sign of any branching in this trio yet.

cider gums Nos. 3, 6 and 15

Cider gums Nos. 3 (left), 6 (centre) and 15 (right) – the trio pitoyable (all at the same scale). No. 3, affectionately known as ‘the Freak’, is looking less freakish these days but is as underdeveloped as ever. No. 3 was the first of the gums to show branching.

cider gum No. 7

Cider gum No. 7 – the tallest of the gums! Much taller than its supportive skewer. I guess that situation ought to be amended before the top falls over or something. But while being the tallest of the gums, it hasn’t begun to develop any lateral branches yet.

cider gums Nos. 8 and 9

Cider gums Nos. 8 (left) and 9 (right). No. 8 is another gum that has overgrown its crutch!

cider gum No. 10

Cider gum No. 10. Keepin’ it average.

cider gum No. 11

Cider gum No. 11. A little on the small side.

cider gums Nos. 12 and 14

Cider gums Nos. 14 (left) and 12 (right) – the third and fourth tallest gums respectively. No. 14 is one half of the Big Branching Duo, the other half being No. 13 (below).

cider gum No. 13

Cider gum No. 13. Check out all that branchy goodness. And to top it all off, No. 13 is the second tallest gum.

Posted in The treeblog trees

Super treeblog seedling update (Day 458): Part I

It has been almost four weeks since the treeblog Set A seedlings were lined up and photographed like recently arrested criminals. In my absence the most recent mugshots were taken last Saturday (Set A Day 458) by my father. But before we get down to business, let’s talk Set B for a moment. The last post revealed a horrific deception: what I thought to be a couple of sweet chestnuts are actually nettles. This means that the only tree seedling produced by Set B is a solitary downy birch. And I’m afraid things aren’t going too well in the downy birch department. I haven’t seen the seedling with my own eyes since the beginning of June, but in the photo from Saturday (Set B Day 106)… it isn’t looking too hot. I don’t think it’s dead, mind, but it’s not exactly radiating health. I’ll let you, dear reader, form your own opinion.

downy birch No. 1

The downy birch is in the centre (see the inset for an enlarged and brightened view). The other two seedlings are weeds.

Not good, is it? Ne’ermind. I’d rather not dwell on the failure that was Set B. Instead, I like to console myself with the dandy Set A:

Scots pine Alpha

The Alpha Scots pine. The stem is still bendy but the kebab skewer has done wonders. See the lower needles, from about half-way down? They are juvenile needles. The upper needles are adult – notice how they are arranged in pairs.

Scots pine Gamma

The Gamma Scots pine. My father reports that recent heavy winds had bent the soft seedling over (just as previously happened with Alpha), so he had to intervene with a kebab skewer. Again, notice the two different types of needle, adult and juvenile.

grey alder No. 1

Grey alder No. 1. This alder, along with Nos. 2 and 3, has enjoyed a growth boost since being transplanted to a larger pot at the beginning of June. I’m not happy about the lean that’s developing though. A kebab skewer is going to be headed your way, sir.

grey alder No. 2

Grey alder No. 2: the smallest of the alders.

grey alder No. 3

Grey alder No. 3. Transplantation has done this seedling a world of good!

grey alder No. 4

Grey alder No. 4: the Beast. What can I say that I haven’t said a thousand times before? It’s just one rampant seedling. Proper rampant.

…And that’s enough Set A for one post. We still have to cover the cider gums though. All fifteen will be paraded soon in Part II of this super treeblog seedling update. So 'til next time, ta-ta.

Posted in The treeblog trees

Sweet chestnut No. 1... not a sweet chestnut

sweet chestnut No. 1 – actually just a nettle

Well there you go. Feast your eyes on what I thought was a sweet chestnut. But I was wrong. That isn't a sweet chestnut: it's just a nettle (Urtica dioica)! The sneaky snake must have grown from a chance seed settling in the tray. And, although I haven’t got this confirmed, I guess that ‘sweet chestnut No. 2’ must also be a nettle. Crap.

 sweet chestnut No. 1 – actually just a nettle

The photographs, both of what I thought to be sweet chestnut No. 1, were taken by my father last night: Set B’s Day 106. Details and photos of the rest of Set B and Set A will be coming within the next few days. I apologise for the long wait, but it has been out of my hands. Blame the recent rainy weather. But now thou must ready thy sen for some treeblog action!

Posted in The treeblog trees

Set A super treeblog seedling update (Day 432): Part II

The super treeblog seedling update continues... First up, photographs of the alders and Scots pines taken on Day 432 (Monday the 2nd of June). The ruler in all the super update pix was held in place by my sister - props go to her.

Alpha Scots pine

The Alpha Scots pine - approx. 14.5 cm. As you can see, this is another seedling supported by a kebab stick. The damn fool had gotten too tall to support itself.

Gamma Scots pine

The Gamma Scots pine - approx. 10 cm. A more sensible height means this one is still free-standing.

grey alder No. 1

Grey alder No. 1 - approx. 14 cm. From the first leaf on the right upwards - that's all new growth from this season. It's pretty much tripled in height!

grey alder No. 2

Grey alder No. 2 - approx. 6.5 cm. No. 2 is the smallest alder, but it's still healthy-looking.

grey alder No. 3

Grey alder No. 3 - approx. 12 cm.

grey alder No. 4

Grey alder No. 4 - the Beast - approx. 30 cm tall. No. 4 is the tallest and most impressive of all the treeblog trees. It's unbelievable how much bigger it is than it's fellow alders!

Well, now you've seen photos of all the Set A seedlings. I hope you've been impressed by how much growing they've done over the last couple of months.

Bonus update: On Wednesday I carried out some repotting. The Alpha Scots pine is in the same pot but it has been topped up with soil 'cos it was looking a little empty. Grey alders Nos. 1, 2 and 3 and cider gums Nos. 1, 2, 4, 5 and 11 had their small square pots upgraded to bigger round ones. Cider gums Nos. 3, 6 and 15 are now the only Set A seedlings left in the small square pots (because of their diminutive statures). From Set B, the downy birch and the two possible sweet chestnuts were moved out of their seed tray and into small square pots. Grey alder No. 4 really needs putting into a much bigger pot but that'll have to wait a few weeks as I'm now back in Edinburgh.

Final thought: I can't believe how badly Set B has failed, but the awesomeness of Set A is ample compensation.

Posted in The treeblog trees

Set A super treeblog seedling update (Day 432): Part I

Hurrah! Let us review together a super treeblog seedling update! In Part I, admire a parade of all fifteen cider gums; they range from the mighty to the meek. Part II will cover those splendid Scots pines and admirable alders. This update is unique in that the height of each seedling has been measured, giving, for the first time, a picture of the growth of each seedling relative to its brethren. I took the photographs yesterday (Monday). Cider gum Number 1, take it away!

cider gum No. 1

Cider gum No. 1, weighing in at approx. 11 cm. Not very big, but it has a decent lateral branch there on the left.

cider gum No. 2

Cider gum No. 2 - approx. 13 cm.

cider gum No. 3

Cider gum No. 3 - "the Freak" - approx. 5 cm.

cider gum No. 4

Cider gum No. 4 - approx. 10.5 cm.

cider gum No. 5

Cider gum No. 5 - approx. 16 cm. The best of the gums still in the small pots.

cider gum No. 6

Cider gum No. 6 - approx. 4 cm. The smallest of the gums, but still hanging on in there.

cider gum No. 7

Cider gum No. 7 - approx. 25 cm. This makes No. 7 the tallest cider gum! I tied the big gums in the big pots to kebab skewers with loose loops of cotton to try and keep them upright, as many of them had gotten too top heavy to stand up straight.

cider gum No. 8

Cider gum No. 8 - approx. 17.5 cm.

cider gum No. 9

Cider gum No. 9 - approx. 16 cm.

cider gum No. 10

Cider gum No. 10 - approx. 19.5 cm.

cider gum No. 11

Cider gum No. 11 - approx. 10 cm (if stood up straight).

cider gum No. 12

Cider gum No. 12 - approx. 23 cm. The second-tallest gum.

cider gum No. 13

Cider gum No. 13 - the Uber-brancher - approx. 20.5 cm.

cider gum No. 14

Cider gum No. 14 - approx. 21.5 cm. The second-best brancher and the third-tallest.

cider gum No. 15

Cider gum No. 15 - approx. 6 cm.

Posted in The treeblog trees

Depressing lack of Set B seedlings

Today is the 76th day since I planted 105 nuts/seeds and only three have sprouted. And two of those might not even be trees after all, so perhaps only one treeblog Set B seedling has sprouted! What a depressingly pathetic turn-out. I have no idea why such a disaster should befall, but a disaster this is. In comparison, I tell you that of last year's Set B, by Day 87 sixteen seedlings had sprouted! I can't believe how wrong Set B has gone! I really hope a bunch of new seedlings pop up in June.

Anyway, I took some photographs of Set B today; check them out below. I also spent a hour or so gently tying the big cider gums to wooden kebab skewers with cotton to try to keep them straight - a very fiddly and tedious exercise. The old Alpha Scots pine appears to have over-stretched itself in height growth and had been bent all over the place by the recent heavy rains, so I also tied that up to a skewer. Photos shall be coming soon. I hope this skewer idea isn't a disaster.

downy birch seedling

This is the only seedling that I think definitely belongs to treeblog's Set B: it is a downy birch. On Day 57 it was photographed with a birch seed case still attached to one of its cotyledons. Unfortunately, there has been little growth since then.

two possible sweet chestnut seedlings

Here there may be sweet chestnuts. The biggie on the left is the one featured in previous updates, but it doesn't look particularly chestnutty. The cotyledons of both seedlings match, and I hope this is too much of a coincidence for them to be weeds. [Update (November 2008): Wrong! They were weeds. Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) in fact. Bah!]

fake European beech seedling

The last time I put up photos of the Set B seedlings (Day 57), I explained my reservations as to the autenthicity of this seedling. While growing in the 'European beech section', this seedling has never been a European beech. Weeeeeed.

fake mountain pine seedling

In the 'mountain pine section' there are two seedlings. Unfortunately, they are not coniferous. So weeds again. Interestingly, this one appears to be tricotyledonous.

Posted in The treeblog trees

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