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August 2007

treeblog seedling update (Day 122/124)

treeblog has returned from its hiatus. In other words, I arrived back home this weekend from a sunkissed couple of weeks in Turkey. Upon reacquainting myself with the treeblog seedlings, I was impressed by how much some of them had grown over the last fortnight, particularly the Alpha Scots pine, grey alder Number 4, and several of the cider gums. I was also met with a happy surprise; an optimistic check of the apparently defunct seed trays revealed a shiny new Scots pine seedling! This bumps up the total number of germinated Scots pine seedlings to three (although Number 2 (Beta) is dead, suspected of having been wolfed down by a stinking slug). Three seedlings from a whole packet of seeds: disappointing (see how many seeds were originally in the packet).

Grey alder Number 4 on Saturday (Day 122).

I transplanted the new Scots pine seedling into a pot on Monday, and whilst I was at it I repotted the Alpha Scots pine in new soil as well, as concerns have been raised that the soil it was in was too constrictive. Alpha Scots pine had also leaned right over, so I was able to correct that. Both pines were replanted in a soil mix containing a bit of garden topsoil, a bit of compost, and some soil and leaf litter from an actual Scots pine wood. So far, they seem to have taken to it like ducks to water.

Alpha Scots pine in new soil on Monday (Day 124).

Gamma Scots pine in new soil (Day 124).

The Alpha and Gamma (inset) Scots pines in their entirety (to scale) (Day 124).

Coming soon: a review of the cider gum seedlings!

Posted in The treeblog trees

Red Rose (27th July 2007)

plane tree in Red Rose 'fun pub', Marmaris, Turkey (27th July 2007)

A plane tree at sunset in Red Rose 'fun pub', Marmaris, Turkey.

Posted in Holidays and field trips

Cider gum seedling review

Today is the 130th day since Set A was planted. There are currently 15 cider gum seedlings in the treeblog stables, with no deaths since the seedlings were first transplanted from the seed trays (before which there were many fatalities, probably due to slugs). The image below shows all the cider gum seedlings, Numbers 1 to 15, in numerical order from left to right.

cider gum seedlings, Numbers 1 to 15

Of the original 3 seedlings to be transferred out of the seed tray on the 5th of June (Day 69), Numbers 1 and 2 are doing very well. Unfortunately, Number 3 looks rather unhealthy. Its growth is stunted and its leaves are shrivelled; I don't know what is ailing it, but that seedling doesn't look good.

Of the second wave of cider gum seedlings (Numbers 4 to 9) which were moved into individual pots on the 23rd of June (Day 87), all are thriving with the exception of Number 6. Like Number 3, it is stunted and has tiny, underdeveloped leaves.

Of the third wave of cider gum seedlings (Numbers 10 to 15) which were transplanted out of the seed tray on the 9th of July (Day 103), again all are thriving (although Number 11 looks to have a bit of a lean going on)... with the exception of Number 15. Number 15 was tiny when it was moved into an individual pot, and I expressed my doubts then that it would ever live long. But it is still alive and kicking almost 4 weeks later, albeit without any real growth. It is still tiny, and compared with the other cider gum seedlings is really miniscule. Surprisingly, given its excessively diminutive stature, cider gum Number 15 has already sprouted its first pair of 'proper' leaves!

The image below shows the three weedy seedlings singled out above (Numbers 3, 6 and 15).

weedy cider gum seedlings; Numbers 3, 6 and 15

What does the future hold for treeblog's cider gums? Who knows? But I hope that all 15 continue to grow and survive the winter, and that the 3 sickly seedlings improve in health.

Posted in The treeblog trees

treeblog visitors (30th July 2007)

a European Common Frog in a cider gum's pot

A European Common Frog (Rana temporaria) in a cider gum pot.

An earwig (Forficula auricularia) above the treeblog's seedling stronghold.

Posted in Miscellany

Sweet chestnut - waiting for the nuts

Thinking ahead to next years' set of treeblog seedlings (Set B), I have already been out and collected two lots of seeds. Another species I want to grow for treeblog is the sweet (or Spanish) chestnut, Castanea sativa. My Collins Field Guide Trees of Britain & Northern Europe [2nd Ed.], by Alan Mitchell (1978, HarperCollinsPublishers) has this to say on the sweet chestnut's flowers and fruit:

Axillary bunches of cord-like catkins at end of June open whitish-yellow, 25-32 cm long, crowded with small male flowers each a mass of stamens, turn brown and fall in mid-July. Female flowers sometimes on small, separate spreading catkin, 5-6 cm long, 5-6 flowers; usually 1-2 at base of short, 10-12 cm catkin of unopened, yellowish rudimentary female or rarely male flowers, near tip of shoot. Female flower a 1 cm rosette of bright green, minutely hairy spines with a bunch of spreading, slender white styles. Fruit in bunches of 2-3, in light yellow-green 3 x 4 cm husk covered in sharp spines 1.5 cm long, radiating in clusters; interior white with silky, appressed hairs. Usually two nuts: one globose, the other smaller, concave; dark, shiny red-brown, narrowing to a tip bearing dead styles.

There is a huge, old sweet chestnut quite local to where I live, and it is the offspring of this tree that I wish to raise. I visited the tree on the 7th of July, earlier this year. However, the 'cord-like catkins' were not yet in flower.

cord-like male catkins on the sweet chestnut

Cord-like male catkins on the sweet chestnut (7th July 2007).

close-up of male catkins - not yet in bloom

Close-up of the male catkins (not yet in bloom) (7th July 2007).

I visitied the sweet chestnut again a few days ago on the 8th of August, but was disappointed to find that the nuts were not yet ready for harvesting. In fact, the tree was still in flower, despite my Field Guide stating that the male flower-supporting catkins "turn brown and fall in mid-July". Perhaps the unusually wet weather this summer has affected the tree's phenology. treeblog will have to wait a little longer to get hold of some sweet chesntuts.

cord-like male catkins in bloom on the sweet chestnut

Cord-like male catkins in bloom on the sweet chestnut (9th August 2007).

close-up of male catkins in bloom, with female flowers (spiny) in foreground

Close-up of male catkins in bloom, with spiny female flowers in the foreground (9th August 2007).

Posted in The treeblog trees

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