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February 2008

The Mirror of Galadriel

Sam climbed up on the foot of the pedestal and leaned over the basin. The water looked hard and dark. Stars were reflected in it.

'There's only stars, as I thought', he said. Then he gave a low gasp, for the stars went out. As if a dark veil had been withdrawn, the Mirror grew grey, and then clear. There was sun shining, and the branches of trees were waving and tossing in the wind. But before Sam could make up his mind what it was that he saw, the light faded; and now he thought he saw Frodo with a pale face lying fast asleep under a great dark cliff. Then he seemed to see himself going along a dim passage, and climbing an endless winding stair. It came to him suddenly that he was looking urgently for something, but what it was he did not know. Like a dream the vision shifted and went back, and he saw the trees again. But this time they were not so close, and he could see what was going on: they were not waving in the wind, they were falling, crashing to the ground.

'Hi!' cried Sam in an outraged voice. 'There's that Ted Sandyman a-cutting down trees as he shouldn't. They didn't ought to be felled: it's that avenue beyond the Mill that shades the road to Bywater. I wish I could get at Ted, and I'd fell him!'

J.R.R. Tolkien

Posted in Quotes

Nutters and nutting: illegal hazelnut gathering

Everyone is familiar with the term 'nutter', but I bet not many people know how the word originates. The book Sheffield's Woodland Heritage by Mel Jones explains (the context is woodland management from the Middle Ages to the 1800s):

There were particularly sensitive times of the year in the woods. In autumn when berries and nuts were ripe, and in winter, when firewood and food supplies were low, thefts were particularly common. The practice of collecting hazel nuts in local woods caused widespread damage to wood boundaries and the underwood and prompted the Pegges of Beauchief in 1809 and the Duke of Norfolk in 1812 to post warning notices around their estate and woodland boundaries.

The text below is included as a figure, labelled as 'Warning to hazel nut gatherers, Beauchief estate, 1809.'

The Woods and Wood-Fences,
Have for several Years past suffered great
Damage about this Season pf the Year,
from a set of idle People, who stile them-selves NUTTERS :
That if any Person or Persons are caught
Nutting, or pretending so to do in the
above-mentioned Woods, or Premises, they
will be prosecuted as the Law directs.
Beauchieff, August, 1809.


Posted in Miscellany

treeblog seedling update (Set A, Day 319)

At last! The first treeblog seedling update since the super update of Day 264 (Parts I and II)! Today is actually Day 321, so the following photos were taken (by my father) on Sunday.

To kick things off, remember those new seedlings that had sprouted in the old grey alder trays, as reported by Day 264's update? I assumed that they were alders, and thus tentatively titled them Number 6 and Number 7. Well, my father has transplanted them into a pot of their own. But are they really alders? Maybe they are birches, sprouted from maverick seed that blew into the tray in the summer. The seed trays were sitting under a few birches, so it is possible... I guess to be sure we'll just have to wait until spring brings them leaves. [Update (August 2008): They aren't alders or birches, and I still don't know what they are so I'm calling them 'post-Set A unknown seedlings'.]

alders Numbers 6 and 7? or perhaps sneaky birches
a closer view

A closer view of alders Numbers 6 and 7 the post-Set A unknown seedlings (to scale). They are in front of a banknote.

grey alder Number 4

Grey alder Number 4: the beast. Notice the lateral branches - it's more than just a twig!

close view of grey alder Number 4's terminal bud

A much closer view of the terminal bud of Number 4. What can you see? Notice the warts on the stem - lenticels I believe.

Alpha Scots pine

The majestic Alpha Scots Pine. Has it grown at all since Day 264? I don't think so... Have a look for yourself on the Photo-timeline page.

Gamma Scots pine

The Gamma Scots pine. I don't think this seedling has grown much since the last update either.

cider gum Number 7

Cider gum Number 7. Another non-grower. Even though they are evergreen, winter must be outside the growing season.

cider gum Number 9

Cider gum Number 9. Some call it the Top Gum... Others say it is getting a bit spindly and that Number 7 should be crowned Top Gum instead... Yet others maintain that Number 3 is in fact the Top Gum. It's quite a divisive issue.

P.S. treeblog is one year old on Thursday!

Posted in The treeblog trees

treeblog: One-Year Anniversary

One year ago to the day, the first post appeared on treeblog. In it, I stated that the purpose of treeblog is to 'form a chronology of the development of a group of trees, right from being planted as seeds or nuts. To chart their development from germination to maturity… supposing that they don’t die before they get there'. So far treeblog has stuck to its purpose then. The first seeds were planted on the 28th of March 2007. This Set A consisted of cider gum, common alder and Scots pine seeds. Seedlings from all three species sprouted, and their progress has been tracked. It will continue to be tracked, and a new set of seeds will be added to treeblog in the spring!

Looking back over the first year of treeblog, I have picked out a selection of ten quite good posts that you may well have missed the first time around. Celebrate the anniversary and enjoy!

Mycorrhiza - a brief introduction
Sunday 11th March, 2007
Mycorrhizas! Those intimate mutualisms between fungi and plant root tissue.

Habitat fragmentation
Tuesday 13th March, 2007
Habitat fragmentation - a significant obstacle to the long-term conservation of biodiversity.

Branch shedding in mature beech trees
Thursday 3rd May, 2007
To live long, a tree must stay small...

The Plane Tree of Hippocrates
Friday 18th May, 2007
Is this the tree under which the great healer sat when he taught medicine to his disciples in the 5th century BC?

Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) reproductive organs
Thursday 24th May, 2007
Flowers and cones.

Derwent Dam tree photographs
Saturday 16th June, 2007
During World War II, Derwent Reservoir was used for bombing practice by the RAFs 'Dambusters'...

Sweet chestnut - waiting for the nuts
Sunday 12th August, 2007
Unsuccessful attempts at getting sweet chestnuts for Set B.

Field trip to the Italian Alps (Part 1) and (Part 2)
Thursday 13th September, 2007 and Saturday 15th September, 2007
Learning about forestry in the Paneveggio Forest and spending time in the field collecting data.

Giant Yorkshire oak trees (1829)
Thursday 11th October, 2007
Massive oak trees, far bigger than any tree in Britain today!

Majesty, or the Fredville Oak (Kent, UK)
Friday 7th December, 2007
A stunning oak.

Okay, so that's eleven posts. But I'm counting the two Italian field trip posts as one. Why are there no treeblog seedling updates in that list? Because I plan to give Set A its own special list on its own one-year anniversary!

Posted in Miscellany

Marcescent oak leaves in Holyrood Park revisited

Back on the 14th of December I had a wee wander in Holyrood Park and bumped into a couple of young oaks. One was standing naked, but the other was covered in marcescent leaves. I wrote in this post "These dead leaves will probably spend the whole winter attached to the tree. I'll see if I can remember to go back and check in a month or two." Well, I did remember. And the leaves are still there.

marcescent oak on 14th December 2007

The marcescent oak as it stood on the 14th of December 2007.

the same oak on the 18th of February 2008

The same oak today, the 18th of February 2008. Most of its leaves still remain.

oak with no leaves

Its buddy is still starkers, obviously. The orangey blur in the centre of the photo is the marcescent oak in the background.

close-up of a marcescent oak leaf

Detail of one of the marcescent leaves.

gorse flowers

A bit of gorse. Gorse can flower at any time of the year!

pine needles and cones

There is a little bit of a pine wood growing right in the middle of Holyrood Park. I'm guessing it's all Scots pine.

alder silhouetted above Arthur's Seat

There were a few juvenile alder trees knocking about near the pines. At least one was old enough to reproduce - notice the seed cones and pollen catkins dangling from this branch silhouetted above Arthur's Seat.

Posted in Gone for a walk

Comparing treeblog Set B seeds and nuts

treeblog Set B seeds and nuts (downy birch, sweet chestnut, European beech, weeping beech and mountain pine)

There they are, the treeblog Set B seeds and nuts, all laid out nicely for direct comparison:

1. Downy birch (Betula pubescens) seeds and a few catkins.
2. Sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) cupules and a lone nut.
3. European beech (Fagus sylvatica) nuts and a couple of cupules.
4. Weeping beech (a European beech variant) nuts.
5. Mountain pine (Pinus mugo) cones.

I'll probably get these planted next week, which'll be about three weeks earlier than when I planted the Set A seeds in 2007. I can't plant them at the end of March this year though because I'll be up in Edinburgh working on my dissertation.

Posted in The treeblog trees

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