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December 2009

Planting Scots pine at Escrick Park Estate

I spent five days last week planting trees near York on the Escrick Park Estate as part of my college course. We – about twelve students and three instructors – planted 6,000 three-year old Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris) over three hectares. The trees were nursery-grown 2+1s, meaning that they had spent two years in the ground (2) before being lifted, replanted, and grown on in the ground for another year (+1).

According to the forestry guru, our newly created Scots pine plantation should soon be putting on growth at a rate of about 18 tons / tonnes per ha per year. In twenty years’ time about 35% of the trees will be thinned out: 20% by removing every fifth row and 15% by general thinning to leave the best trees growing. Further thinnings will be carried out every five years until the stand is fifty years old, when the trees will be left without thinning for twenty years until the final harvest takes places - seventy years from now. The density of the stand at harvest will be about 100 trees per ha – quite a change from the planting density of 2,000 trees per ha.

To achieve the desired planting density we planted each tree 2.2 metres apart. The trees were planted in perfect straight rows in one direction, but the first trees in each row were staggered. This should ensure that anyone walking or driving along the road that runs along one edge of the site… if they look towards the stand (perpendicular to the straight rows), they will see apparently randomly-planted trees. It’s all about being efficient and aesthetically pleasing at the same time.

The above photo shows a typical tree, with my boot for scale. The planting process was real simple: dig a bastard pit with the shovel (a slit in the ground, not a real pit – hence the name), pop in the tree (making sure the roots are all in order), stamp down the soil around the tree (to remove any air pockets where standing water may gather and freeze), stick a cane into the ground either side of the tree, and slide on a tree guard. The guards will protect the young trees when the site is sprayed to suppress weed growth, probably three times a year.

We mainly worked in pairs, one person digging the pits and planting the trees and the other putting on the tree guards. A ten-yard buffer zone was left around the site margin for wildlife.

This was my first taste of forestry planting. I found it monotonous but rewarding. On average, we each planted less than 500 trees over five days (not full days, mind). A pro planter would expect to plant 800 trees a day!

A large oak in an adjoining stand of young deciduous trees.

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This month’s Festival of the Trees – the forty-second edition, Seven Billion New Trees – has been up for a week over at Via Negativa. It was put together by Dave Bonta, one of the Festival’s co-founders. Go read!

Next month’s festival – the first of the new year – will be hosted by Jason Hogle at xenogere. You know what to do… show him some tree love!

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Sylvan Miscellany

To say it’s in the middle of a service station carpark, the tree at Scotch Corner is mighty impressive.

A log keeps you warm twice: once when you cut it and once when you burn it.

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The Nature Conservancy’s Top 5 Eco-Friendly Holiday Gifts:

Adopt an acre.
Plant trees in the Atlantic Forest. Each tree is just $1.
Adopt a coral reef.
Help save the northern jaguar.
Give the gift of clean water.

Posted in Miscellany

A wintry walk through the woods (Part 1)

The Long Lane ash. Have a look at it in early October and late November 2008 and early February and late May of this year. I’ve somehow started keeping a record of this tree.

There was a bit of snow put down before the weekend, so I went for a walk up to Millstones Wood yesterday afternoon to partake of the wintry atmosphere. It was biting cold and as I walked up Long Lane I was stung by flurrying microsnow. Once inside the wood, the snow eased off but the temperature fell even lower. It was proper Baltic. The ground was dusted with frozen snow and the footing was alternately slippery then crunchy. A robin flew across my path without stopping to say hello. I climbed partway up a reclining tree, but away from the warmth of a fleecy sleeve my fingers quickly protested the intense cold.

As I neared the other end of the wood more flakes began to fall.

Millstones Wood. Many of the beeches are rendered a vivid green by coatings of leprose lichen.

Leaning larches.

A wee spring that oozes out of the ground beside a large beech was frozen solid. An icy waterfall in miniature.

Almost every tree in this part of the wood is a European beech (Fagus sylvatica).

The frozen floor: twigs, beech leaves and snow.

An evergreen Scots pine breaks up the monotony of bare branches.

This afternoon it snowed again, and really went for it. There’s now a proper covering down. If it snows again in the night and recovers the roads, there is a chance that tomorrow won’t find me at work. It’ll find me roaming abroad with a grin on my face.

Posted in Gone for a walk

A wintry walk through the woods (Part 2)

Wintry Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) needles in Millstones Wood.

This post continues on from Part 2

The green leaves of a semi-evergreen bramble or blackberry (Rubus fruticosus) intermingle with the orange, crispy, marcescent leaves of young beech (Fagus sylvatica) trees.

A sort of cage formed by leaning sticks against the jutting-out roots of a fallen beech. Who would make such a structure? Kids? Witches? Wood spirits? A pretty freaky thing to chance upon alone in an empty wood on a late winter’s eve.

But my mind is strong like lion. Fear gave way to curiosity and I climbed that tree. It just made my fingers cold, but I gained a better perspective of the patterns formed by all the twigs lying on the woodland floor.

A typical resident of Millstones Wood: a gnarly old beech.

One snowy tussock.

A dead, stunted pine or larch tree still standing on an exposed edge of the wood. In the background the forested Ewden Valley runs off into the distance. This dead tree made an appearance on treeblog last December; a photo in that post was one of my favourites to appear on treeblog in 2008.

Like I wrote in the last post, it snowed again on Sunday and put down a decent amount. I’ve not been able to get out into the countryside to fully enjoy this proper snow yet (there hasn’t been enough to stop me from getting to work, see) but the white stuff is still here on the moors, on the fields, on the trees, etc… Although the main roads were mostly clear of snow by this afternoon, this evening it put down another inch or so. Heavy snow is forecast for tonight.

It’s going to be a White Christmas.

Posted in Gone for a walk

The Wigtwizzle Chestnut in the snow

The venerable veteran of Wigtwizzle – a sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) of considerable age and girth.

These photos are from a couple of Sundays ago when, driving home over the moors, I was ambushed by much snow. I couldn’t resist stopping for a few piccies.

These beeches (Fagus sylvatica) grow in the adjacent parkland that once surrounded Broomhead Hall.

Posted in Notable trees

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