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July 2009

treeblog update (Set A, Day 826): cider gums Nos. 1 to 7

Hot on the heels of the grey alder & Scots pine update (Day 822) comes the first half of the cider gum update of Day 826 – that’s today. But before that, have a gander at this graph that I’ve concocted:

The heights of all the Set A trees (and the PSAUS goat willow) relative to one another, laid out in ascending order. Each bar represents a tree; the colour of the bar denotes the species and the number above the bar identifies the tree (where P = PSAUS, α = alpha, & γ = gamma). The actual heights of the trees are given in centimetres under each bar. The bar representing cider gum No. 3 is in two colours: the lower segment represents the height of the living part of the seedling; the two segments together represent the total height of the seedling including dead parts.

As you can see, the three smallest trees are the three cider gum runts: Nos. 3, 6 and 15 (8 cm, 9 cm* and 22 cm respectively). The tallest three trees are the big grey alders: Nos. 1, 3 and 4. Grey alder No. 4, the Beast, remains the tallest of all the treeblog trees at 120 cm. The tallest cider gum is No. 7 at 97 cm, almost twenty centimetres taller than the second-tallest gum, No. 12. Scots pine Alpha (48 cm) comes in around the middle of the cider gum range, while Scots pine Gamma (27 cm) only manages to be taller than the cider gum runts and the PSAUS goat willow (25 cm).
* Only 6 cm if the dead upper parts are not included in the measurement.

After that fascinating digression, back to the update proper!

Cider gum No. 1.

Cider gum No. 2.

Cider gum No. 3, arisen from the grave. The white arrow points to a minute leaf that has recently developed. This is just below the limit of the living tissue at a height of 6 cm. The vast majority of the new growth is much closer to the base, and is shown in close-up in the photo below:


Cider gum No. 4: distressingly wonky at the top.

Cider gum No. 5: nicely symmetrical.

Cider gum No. 6: the only one of the runts realistically capable of achieving non-runt status.

Cider gum No. 7: the tallest of the gums (Top Gum). The photo looks a little stretched or skewed because of the downwards-looking angle I had to take the photo at to get the whole tree against the background-board.

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July’s Festival of the Trees – the 37th edition! – is online at TGAW. I haven’t had time to give it more than a perfunctory glance so far but it looks like Vicky has put together a great version. Go read!

Posted in The treeblog trees

An ecstasy of peace, or a sparkling, glorious jubilee?

”One time, however, we were near quarrelling. He said the pleasantest manner of spending a hot July day was lying from morning till evening on a bank of heath in the middle of the moors, with the bees humming dreamily about among the bloom, and the larks singing high up overhead, and the blue sky and bright sun shining steadily and cloudlessly. That was his most perfect idea of heaven’s happiness: mine was rocking in a rustling green tree, with a west wind blowing, and bright white clouds flitting rapidly above; and not only larks, but throstles, and blackbirds, and linnets, and cuckoos pouring out music on every side, and the moors seen at a distance, broken into cool, dusky dwells; but close by great swells of long grass undulating in waves to the breeze; and woods and sounding water, and the whole world awake and wild with joy. He wanted all to lie in an ecstasy of peace; I wanted all to sparkle and dance in a glorious jubilee. I said his heaven would be only half alive; and he said mine would be drunk; I said I should fall asleep in his; and he said he could not breathe in mine, and began to grow very snappish. At last, we agreed to try both, as soon as the right weather came; and then we kissed each other and were friends.

From Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë.

Posted in Quotes

treeblog update (Set A, Day 826): cider gums Nos. 8 to 15

Continuing on from Wednesday’s post (cider gums Nos. 1 to 7), here’s the rest of the Eucalyptus gunnii update. The photos were taken on Wednesday – Set A Day 826.

Cider gum No. 8.

Cider gum No. 9.

Cider gum No. 10.

Cider gum No. 11: now growing more horizontally than vertically. Why? Its original leader has died off, probably thanks to winter frosts.

A closer look at No. 11’s dead leader. Poor thing.

Cider gum No. 12: the second-tallest gum, and all-round good bean.

Cider gum No. 13: one half of last year’s famed Branching Duo. The other half was…

Cider gum No. 14.

Cider gum No. 15: one of the three cider gum runts, and after No. 3 the worst-affected of the gums by frost damage. Another one with a dead leader (forking ahoy).

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Coming soon… a Set C birch update!

Posted in The treeblog trees

treeblog update (Set C, Day 120): the downy birches; Grey alder No. 3 beheaded

Downy birch No. 1.

Yesterday afternoon, 120 days after the planting of treeblog Set C, I spent some time photographing the twenty-five downy birches. Since the last update in mid-June (Day 95), most of the seedlings have grown a second proper leaf and are now working on a third. Some of them are outperforming the rest (e.g. No. 21) and some are rather underperforming (e.g. No. 17); some look in rude health (e.g. No. 5) and some look rather sickly (e.g. No. 12); but there have been no losses in the three-and-a-half weeks since the last update. For this, the Day 120 update, Downy birch No. 1 has already got us started (I recommend checking out its photo-timeline) – the rest of the squad have formed ranks below and are standing to attention awaiting your inspection. (Most of the seedlings are sprinkled with sand and soil particles splashed there by heavy rains, but that’s nothing to worry about.)

Downy birches Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 5.

Downy birches Nos. 6, 9, 10 and 11. No. 9 has only just developed its first true leaf. Lagger!

Downy birches Nos. 12, 13, 14 and 15.

Downy birches Nos. 16, 17, 21 and 22. No. 17’s another underperformer but No. 21 is doing great.

Downy birches Nos. 23, 24, 25 and 26. No. 24 is doing well here.

Downy birches Nos. 27, 28, 29 and 30. No. 29 – the tricot – is doing well. It’s still in the birch seed tray for the time being.

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In other news… Set A’s grey alder No. 3 was beheaded last weekend by these nasty, secretive pests that have been plaguing the alders for weeks. No. 4 was almost beheaded in mid-May, No. 2 was beheaded in mid-June… and now No. 3. The photo below shows the not-quite-fully-severed leading shoot hanging limply to one side. Unbearable.

Grey alder No. 3: demasted.

Posted in The treeblog trees

Out on the moors: to Pike Lowe and beyond! (Part One)

I went out on the moors on Saturday with the intention of making Pike Lowe, and, if I had the time, of finding the mythical waterfall far up the Ewden Beck...

First checkpoint: the Lonely Oak of Whitwell Moor.

It doesn’t appear to be doing too well, our Lonely one. Most of its leaves are crinkled and ragged-looking, whereas the rest of the oaks I saw on my ramble were all healthy. So it’s not a weather thing. I couldn’t find a single developing acorn on any of the oaks, which is disappointing as I was thinking of planting some for treeblog Set D. The red balls on the leaf in the photo are galls.

A Jew’s ear (Auricularia auricular-judae) –like fungus growing on a dead branch attached to a living English oak (Quercus robur) in Millstones Wood.

Also in Millstones Wood, a beast of a beech (Fagus sylvatica). This looks like an old coppice to me. There may not be any acorns this year, but there’s no shortage of beechnuts: the floor was covered with cupules!

Leaving the wood behind, I was confronted with a field full of near fully grown cattle. I had to pass within a metre of these two, but they seemed completely indifferent to my presence. I was glad to avoid a trampling! Broomhead Hall Farm can be seen across the valley in the background.

Developing hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) fruit, or haws. The hawthorns hereabouts were in full flower at the end of May / beginning of June.

Looking back across the moors to Millstones Wood from near the summit of Pike Lowe, just over an hours walk away!

The cairn on the summit of Pike Lowe (OS grid. ref. SK 208 974 or 53.4726° N, 1.6865° W), 476 metres above sea level. So close to civilisation, yet so isolated.

Posted in Gone for a walk

Out on the moors: to Pike Lowe and beyond! (Part Two)

I was out walking on the moors last Saturday, and in Part One of this two-part post I’d just walked across Whitwell Moor, through Millstones Wood, and over Broomhead Moor to Pike Lowe...

After a bit of a dinner stop at that ancient cairn, I headed south to intercept the upper course of the Ewden Beck, I almost perfectly landed upon what I’d come looking for. Right next to the confluence of the beck with an unnamed (on the map) tributary from Stainery Clough, there is an impressive waterfall. (A second, smaller waterfall is to the left of the main fall, where the Stainery Clough stream drops into the beck, but it’s hidden by bracken in my photo.) Two things about this fine waterfall: 1. It is orange! - a consequence of the very peaty water. 2. It is bigger than it looks in this photo, which was taken zoomed in from the top of a steep bank overlooking the river. I reckon the face of the fall to be about three metres tall. There is an excellent photograph on Flickr by Peter Bell, taken on May 30th this year, that gives a much better idea of the true height of the waterfall. It also shows a much denuded flow; my photo was taken after a prolonged rainy spell, so the Ewden Beck was in full flow, and judging by the flattened vegetation along the river edge the water had been a foot higher in places after a big storm during the night. The waterfall isn’t named on the map – it isn’t even on the map (1:25,000 OS) – so I’m calling it Ewden Force. I’m sure some locals have a name for it already. I wonder what?

So after finding a good place to confidently cross the swollen Ewden Beck upstream of the waterfall, and then crossing the Stainery Clough stream, I walked east over the moor (south of and parallel with Ewden Beck) towards the shooting lodge I visited on the 21st of March. Between Stainery Clough and the lodge, I had to cross another two significant cloughs and their swollen streams. One was Oaken Clough, which looks quite meaty on the map, contours-wise; the other, of similar size to Oaken Clough in real life, is unnamed on the map where the contours barely bend for it! Anyway, there are a number of small unnamed streams either side of Oaken Clough, so I couldn’t tell which of the two big cloughs was Oaken Clough because of the dodgy cartography. Either way, all the cloughs were devoid of oaks; a much better name for Oaken Clough would be Rowan Clough.

A wee birch seedling (pendula or pubescens).

Heading down into one of the cloughs. Rowans (Sorbus aucuparia) ahead, stream to the left, grassy ancient path to the right. Bear in mind that this is in the middle of nowhere, with no footpaths anywhere near it. There can’t be many people ever walk here, but sometime in the past, probably hundreds of years ago, there was a way down here that was important enough for someone to go to the trouble of creating a stone-edged path down to the stream, probably to ford it. Perhaps you can make out some of the mossy edging stones on the left side of the path; to the right, off the photograph, is a steep bank that is supported with a sort of stone wall. Very old, very gone-back-to-nature. I almost walked along it without even realising what it was. I really need a GPS device to record the location of these things so that I’ll never forget where they are.

Developing rowan berries. Not ripe just yet, but in another few weeks all of the local rowans will be covered in clusters of bright red berries.

Speaking of rowans, here’s one leaning over the stream.

More rowans! It’s rowan heaven up here in these wee cloughs all surrounded by moorland. Many of the trees were practically dripping with lichens; it was like being up in the Highlands.

Heading down into the other decent-sized clough, this: the biggest-girthed rowan I have ever seen. I knew it was a special one as I eyed it from a distance. A sheep track led straight to it, so our ovine friends use it as a landmark. Well over a metre in diameter (I’ll need to come back for some DBH action), the tree had split in half with its still-healthy branches spanning quite an area. There was also a lot of dead wood scattered around its vicinity; it must have been quite an explosive collapse!

It wasn’t just the tree that was huge. Some of the lichens were beasts, like this monster growing on one of the branches.

In the bottom of a clough, this unusual sight. A rowan and a birch growing hip to hip on the stream bank.

And on the way home from this magical journey of cairn, clough and waterfall, a familiar feature: the eastern Salter Hill. (See it here on the 3rd of April and here on the 1st of June.)

Posted in Gone for a walk + Notable trees

Cider gum No. 14 on the verge of flowering at age two!

I was moving the treeblog trees out of the way earlier today to make room for lawn mowage, when to my great surprise and delight I noticed flower buds on cider gum No. 14 (not No. 11 as originally reported)! How No. 14 has managed to do this at the tender age of two years old, when it is about as tall as my knee, I have no idea. But this is exciting stuff! Second generation treeblog seedlings in 2010?

Cider gum (Eucalyptus gunnii) flower buds on No. 14, which was planted as part of Set A 856 days ago on the 28th of March 2007.

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In other Set A news, Scots pine Alpha and cider gum No. 13 are now being stabilised by canes after being blown askew during recent stormy weather. Two or three of the other cider gums also need realigning but I’m all out of canes. Photographic updates of all the Set A and Set C trees will be appearing after next weekend – until then I’m going to be internetless in the Highlands. Speaking of Set C, the downy birch seedlings aren’t looking very healthy these days. I wonder what’s up?

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Finally, the Nature Conservancy want their fourth annual photo competition plugging:

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We are looking for your most breathtaking images of nature, including lands, waters, plants, animals or people. Photographers keep full ownership of their photographs but grant us the right to use their image in support of our mission. The contest runs through September 30th.

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Posted in The treeblog trees

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