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Posted on April 2, 2010 by Ash
A dead and rotting birch (Betula). I think the little bracket fungi you may be able to make out are birch polypore (Piptoporus betulinus), but they’re pretty poor attempts at fruiting bodies.
This picture is classic Millstones Wood through and through: all rocks and twisty beeches.
This particular beech (Fagus sylvatica) has a splendidly green trunk thanks to a coating of enthusiastic leprose lichen.
I rediscovered this larch (Larix, probs decidua) wound. It hasn’t changed much since the last time I remember seeing it, on the 3rd of January 2008. I first saw the wound on the 4th of April 2007 when it was still very fresh.
Blue sky, shadows, Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris), rocks, and bilberry. What more could you want?
This dead branch reminded me of the chair in ‘Jacob’s’ cabin…
I suppose that to most people this is just a photo of a dirt floor - or more precisely, a photo of a woodland floor covered in old pine needles and bits of pine cone. But I hold a sort of weird fascination for this shining gold-silver pattern.
At one end of Millstones Wood, before it peters out into a grassy, trig-point-topped Salter hill, there grow a few stunted Scots pines and larches. Over the stone wall on the right of this photo there is a field full of gorse (Ulex europaeus) that has recently been completely burned, presumably with a view to control / eradicate it. Whether purposefully or accidentally, the fire spread over the wall where it destroyed several of the stunted pines and seriously singed a few more.
This poor pine is like one giant piece of charcoal now.
Pine cone. Victim.
Early this morning, under the cover of fog, treeblog history was made: grey alders Nos. 2 & 3 were released into the wild in a special covert op! Parts 3 & 4 of Operation Alder shall commence next weekend, all being well, and after that I shall produce a post detailing the daring exploits of these guerrilla plantings!
Posted on April 4, 2010 by Ash
On parade today are all fifteen Set A cider gums, lined up and ready to be inspected for the first time since August! These poor young eucalypts have been ravaged by the harshest winter for many a year, and it looks as though six of our comrades have fallen (and most of the survivors have frost-damaged tips) – yet there may be still be hope. The previous winter (2008-2009) looked to have dealt fatal blows to cider gums Nos. 3 and 15, but they somehow managed to crawl back from the precipice of the grave. Hardy buggers. Can this miracle be repeated in 2010? (Photographs taken yesterday, 1102 days since I planted Set A.)
Cider gum No. 1 – looking very dead. Has it fallen into the endless abyss?
Cider gum No. 2 – one of the tall Class I gums.
Cider gum No. 3 - one of the three Class III runty gums. The dead upper part of No. 3 was killed off by the previous winter, but the winter-just-gone looks to have put paid to its recovery efforts.
Cider gum No. 4.
Cider gum No. 5 – another one of those that may now be At Rest.
Cider gum No. 6 – another Class III, another cadaver?
Cider gum No. 7 – the tallest of all the cider gums. A real Class I über-gum. It now shares its pot with a brassy young sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) that has recently sprouted.
Cider gum No. 7’s new roomie.
Cider gum No. 8.
Cider gum No. 9 also has a new roomie: a wee clump of what look to be rushes.
I hope it’s Juncus effusus!
Cider gum No. 10.
Cider gum No. 11 – another victim of winter.
Cider gum No. 12 - Class I.
Cider gum No. 13 – the only treeblog tree still on crutches. Some of the other gums are looking a bit leany or loose in the soil, so support canes will probably be making a comeback.
Cider gum No. 14 - Class I.
Cider gum No. 15 - Class III. Has this winter managed what the previous one couldn’t? Poor things looks dead as a door-post.
Set C news: There are Set C(r) rowans sprouting by the bucketload! These beauties will be the subject of the next post, but I’ll tell you right here and now that yesterday I counted thirty-three seedlings in the Whitwell Moor section and two in the Upper Midhope section. I photographed them this afternoon, along with the Set C birches, which are just beginning to put out their first leaves of the new year. treeblog is in a good place!
Posted on April 5, 2010 by Ash
Excellent news! The rowans (Sorbus aucuparia) that I planted 328 days ago are sprouting in droves! This afternoon I counted around forty seedlings growing where I planted seeds from the Whitwell Moor rowan and two seedlings growing where I planted seeds from the Upper Midhope rowan. That’s a lot of seedlings, and treeblog can really only follow so many – so I’ve picked twenty of the Whitwell Moor seedlings to follow, along with as many Upper Midhope seedlings that germinate (up to twenty). That’s still a lot of rowans, and I’ve yet to even plant the Set D rowan seeds I collected last year (which I’m going to go ahead and plant anyway to see which of the three methods of pre-treatment used worked best).
The skeletal Upper Midhope rowan, seen here on the 24th of August 2006.
But when I reached the spot where the rowan grew, it had sadly fallen over!
The Whitwell Moor rowan on the day of berry collection.
Along with some downy birch seeds and some sweet chestnuts, I planted both lots of rowan berries as treeblog Set C on the 11th of March 2009. I mistakenly planted the berries whole – but apparently you’re supposed to remove the seeds from the berries before planting.
On the day of planting. The Upper Midhope berries occupy the upper third of the top-left tray; the Whitwell Moor berries occupy the bottom-right tray.
After realising my mistake, I exhumed the berries and removed the seeds on the 10th & 11th of May 2009 - what a messy procedure! I replanted the cleaned-up seeds on the 12th of May, calling them Set C(r) (r for rowan) to distinguish them from the rest of Set C, which didn’t need replanting. [11th March 2009 = Set C Day 0 / 12th May 2009 = Set C(r) Day 0.]
The Whitwell Moor seeds after cleaning, prior to replanting.
A month later, in mid-June, several seedlings appeared in the Set C(r) seed tray, but they turned out to be self-set willows, not rowans. (Some of the willows are now dead; the rest I tried to kill by ‘coppicing’ them so that they wouldn’t compete with any future-sprouting rowans - I couldn’t just pull them up because their roots were so extensive I’d have messed up the whole seed tray. Of course, these tiny willow stumps survived and are now budding up!)
The two Upper Midhope seedlings (designated by ‘U’): U1 & U2.
…And the twenty Whitwell Moor seedlings (designated by ‘W’):
W1 to W5.
W6 to W10.
W11 to W15.
W16 to W20.
Posted on April 8, 2010 by Ash
Grand news tree fans! Most of the Set C downy birches (Betula pubescens) have made it through the harsh winter and are now beginning to unfurl their first leaves of the year. The last time I posted a Set C birch update, in September, there were twenty-two seedlings left to follow. Today, that number is down to seventeen. Seventeen tiny birches, and you can see photos of each of them below. But first, a little bit of clarification on the current status of each seedling:
Now for le photos – taken on Sunday (Day 389).
Who’s this, then? It’s downy birch No. 1!
Downy birches Nos. 2 and 4.
Downy birches Nos. 5 and 10.
Downy birches Nos. 12 to 15.
Downy birches Nos. 21 and 22.
Downy birches Nos. 24 to 26 and No. 30.
Downy birches Nos. 27 and 28 - disappointingly prostrate.
And now for the dead ones. At least, they certainly have the appearance of being dead. But you never know… Maybe one or two of them will stage an unlikely comeback? Trust no-one!
Dead downy birches Nos. 3, 11, 16 and 23.
Dead downy birch No. 6.
Dead downy birch No. 9 – photographed yesterday (Day 392), a few days after its fellow cadavers. I, uh, missed it the first time around or something. The blue slug pellets should tell you two things. 1) No. 9 is exceedingly tiny; and 2) Now that winter is over, the slugs and the snails are oot and aboot again so I’m getting Vietnam flashbacks to June 2007, when the Set A seedlings where mullered by slugs. You ain’t getting your 27,000 teeth on my seedlings this time, you malevolent molluscs!
Set C(r) news: On Tuesday (Day 329), three new Upper Midhope rowan seedlings appeared: U3, U4 and U5. Yesterday, (Day 330), a further two Upper Midhope rowan seedlings appeared: U6 and U7. I think I’ll have to transplant the Set C(r) seedlings from the seed tray into plant pots rather soon…
Set C(r) rowans transplanted. Six rowan tricots. Set D rowans planted. The fate of the Set D beeches and sweet chestnuts.
Posted on April 12, 2010 by Ash
The transplanted Set C(r) rowans (Sorbus aucuparia) yesterday, minus the tricots.
Yesterday was a busy day for treeblog…
The first five Upper Midhope rowan seedlings, U1 to U5, en route to the plug tray.
The plug tray as a bird would see it. May they live long and prosper.
The first five tricots, WT1 to WT5, en route to their plug tray.
A closer look at WT1…
…and WT2 and WT3 and WT4 and WT5. Marvellous.
The germinated Oaken Clough seedlings, freshly removed from the pretreatment plant pot and ready for planting.
F1: one germinating cut-leaved beech nut. Yes!!!
These three germinated beechnuts I planted in pots. The damaged beech will just shrivel and die; it has expended all of its energy on a root that is now not there. The cut-leaved beech trapped in the cupule will probably die from being unable to escape its prison. Now all of treeblog’s beech hopes and dreams rest on the shoulders of one cut-leaved beech. No pressure or anything.
Posted on April 19, 2010 by Ash
It’s been over three years since I planted the Set A grey alders as seeds, and in that time they’ve outgrown the garden where I’ve been keeping them in giant plant pots – the smallest (No. 2) is almost as tall as me; the tallest (No. 1) is a foot or so taller! Something had to be done before the 2010 growing season began – who knows how big they will be by the end of the summer – but what? How do you transport four man-sized trees, and where do you plant them if you don’t own a wood?
Grey alder No. 3 in its new spot. Notice how there is no disturbance around the base? Thanks to careful soil-management and bracken-placement, you wouldn’t be able to tell from a glance that this tree had been planted only minutes previously. Those treemandos were pro-style.
Grey alder No. 2.
Grey alder No. 4
No. 4 was covered in tiny leaves!
Grey alder No. 1.
(I apologise for the lack of clarity and definition in the photos of the alders, but it isn’t easy to capture a small, leafless tree against a busy natural background!)
Will they survive out there in the real world?
Posted on April 25, 2010 by Ash
The beautiful, beautiful Loch Tay, seen through my sunglasses. Seven of us stopped in a log cabin up there for three nights last weekend (April 15–18). On the Friday we hired a couple of boats and spent the day motoring around and fishing. It was a good time, even if our trawling wasn’t successful.
The harbour at Milton Morenish. The mountain in the background is Beinn Ghlas, a Munro in the Ben Lawers Range.
The big tree in the centre of the foreground is the famous Mother Beech - a tree with a special place in my heart.
This mahoosive Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) stands by the road between Milton Morenish and Killin. What a tree.
Not far away was this curiosity: a perfect ring of tree stumps. Who planted a ring of trees and why? Who cut them down? I do love being intrigued by these little mysteries.
On the Saturday we had a walk up to the Falls of Acharn, a series of small waterfalls and pools around one giant waterfall. This photo shows one of the pools. As you can see, there wasn’t much water coming down the falls, so all the interesting rock formations were revealed.
This is the same pool on the 4th of August 2009, the last time I was up at Loch Tay. What a difference!
Another section of the falls in low flow…
…and the same view in August. Back then it was a noisy, scary, raging beast of a river; now it’s a gentle trickle!
And here’s the main waterfall, seen from across the gorge. More rock than water...
…but a totally different animal in spate!
Posted on April 27, 2010 by Ash
The Set D(b) cut-leaved beech has appeared above ground! Here it is on Saturday (Day 206), the first time I’d seen it poking up through the soil. A couple of Saturdays previously I was searching through the Set D beech seed trays when I noticed that this wee tree had sprouted a long root – that was Day 193.
Beech seedlings don’t hang around. Here it is a day later, on Sunday….
…here it is yesterday…
…and here it is this evening. Its cotyledons should open up over the next few days. This is the first beech I’ve ever managed to grow!
As well as discovering this young beech, Saturday also saw me off on a long walk to check up on the recently released Set A grey alders – 1123 days after I planted them as seeds. The good news is that they are all still in situ and doing well. The bad news is that three of them have been munched on by sheep! (I planted Nos. 2 and 3 out in the wild on the 2nd of April (Day 1101); Nos. 1 and 4 were planted out on the 14th of April (Day 1113) – see this post for the details.)
Grey alder No. 1 – this one lives next door to No. 4. Some of the lower branches have been cut back by browsing sheep – I know who the culprits are because they left some wool behind. Nevermind. Those lower branches wouldn’t be kept by the tree for long anyway, and I’d already given thought to pruning them off.
Grey alder No. 2 – this one lives next door to No. 3. No. 2 is the only one of the alders to remain unscathed by sheep.
Here’re some of No. 2’s brand spanking new leaves (all of the alders have them now!). They’re perfect.
Grey alder No. 3. (Sorry about the photos of the alders – I couldn’t get any good ones with their superb camouflage for blending in with the background).
Here’s the tip of one of No. 3’s branches after being nibbled down to size by an ovine fiend. Disgraceful.
Grey alder No. 4 – leading the competition in the leaf department.
Taken back home in the garden on Saturday evening, this photo shows how another Set A tree – Scots pine Alpha – has begun expanding its buds. These little brown columns are lengthening noticeably with each passing day; soon they will be great, long candles. Then it won’t be long until they blast out 2010’s needles!
Posted on April 30, 2010 by Ash
A European larch (Larix decidua) female flower. The larch roses have arrived later than they did last year, but they were out in force last weekend when I went to check on the progress of the Set A grey alders.
A mature birch polypore a.k.a. razor strop (Piptoporus betulinus) bracket on a fallen downy birch (Betula pubescens). Razor strop fruiting bodies are annual; this is one of 2009’s.
Wee mushrooms growing on another fallen birch.
A gnarly, lichen-encrusted rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) twig with unfurling leaves.
A pair of sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) seedlings growing in the fork of a mature sycamore.
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