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May 2008



Set A super treeblog seedling update (Day 397): Part II

Brace yourself! Here comes Part II of Day 397's super treeblog seedling update! Part I looked at the common alders and Scots pines. Part II looks at the cider gums.

cider gum No. 1

Cider gum No. 1, one of the smaller 'second class' cider gums. Check out the lateral branching halfway up the stem.

cider gums Nos. 2 (left) and 5 (right)

Cider gums Nos. 2 (left) and 5 (right). What, no lateral branching?

cider gum No. 3

Cider gum No. 3: El Freak.

cider gum Nos. 4 (left) and 6 (right)

Cider gums Nos. 4 (left) and 6 (right). No. 6 is a complete midget! And No. 4 is sharing its pot with a cheeky moss.

cider gums Nos. 7 (left) and 8 (right)

Cider gums Nos. 7 (left) and 8 (right), two of the 'first class' cider gums that got upgraded to bigger pots. A little tall, a little bendy, but no lateral branches.

cider gums Nos. 9 (left) and 14 (right)

Cider gums Nos. 9 (left) and 14 (right). As above.

cider gums Nos. 10 (left) and 12 (right).

Cider gums Nos. 10 (left) and 12 (right). Both looking good from this angle, but No. 10 has lost a lot of lower leaves.

cider gums 11 (left) and 15 (right)

Cider gums Nos. 11 (left) and 15 (right), a couple of second class cider gums. No. 11 has weird-looking leaves and No. 15 is very small. At least it's survived though! I never thought it would live for long after being transplanted from the seed tray.

cider gum No. 13

Cider gum No. 13. A kinky stem with a lot of lean but lots of lateral growth appearing. Interesting!

And now for some tragic news regarding one of the 'fake alder' seedlings...

fake alder seedlings - one dead, one living

Yes, the rumours are true. One of the seedlings appears to have given up the ghost. What a shame. At least its partner in crime is still alive and kicking. I want this one to live long enough for me to make a positive identification.

As you can see, a lot of the cider gums, particularly the taller ones, have rather leany stems. Gustavo Iglesias of GIT Forestry Consulting, who has a blog called EUCALYPTOLOGICS, is a specialist in eucalypts - cider gum is a eucalyptus. He has recommended that I use something like a bamboo cane to straighten out the crooked stems. At the moment the stems are not lignified (barky) and so correction of form is possible - but this opportunity disappears with lignification, which ought to take place this growing season. So from now! Is this "cheating"? Maybe, but I want my cider gums to have good straight trunks!

P.S. The twenty-third Festival of the Trees is now up at 10,000 Birds.


Posted in The treeblog trees





First Set B sighting? Possible sweet chestnut seedling

possible sweet chestnut seedling?

Yesterday, fifty-three days after I planted Set B, my sister noticed (and my father photographed) what I hope is the first seedling of the set. If it isn't a sneaky weed, this seedling should be a sweet chesnut. And it took a lot of effort to get hold of the sweet chestnuts! Let's hope that now the first seedling has broken through, the rest come thick and fast. [Update (November 2008): Ha ha ha! This seedling was never a sweet chestnut. It was a tricksy stinging nettle (Urtica dioica)!]


Posted in The treeblog trees





More Set B seedlings and Set A growth!

More Set B seedlings! Well, they might be. Else they might be weeds. We'll have to wait and see. Anyways, my father took all of these photographs on Saturday the 10th of May, a.k.a. Day 57 (Set B), a.k.a. Day 409 (Set A).

possible sweet chestnut seedling

This might be a sweet chestnut seedling, the same one from the last post. In the four days between photos, it has grown another pair of leaves. Now that's progress! [Update (November 2008): Afraid not. This wasn't a sweet chestnut, it was a stinging nettle (Urtica dioica)!]

possible downy birch seedling

This little chappy is almost definitely a downy birch. Notice that the seed coat is still attached to the left cotyledon!

possible European beech seedling

This seedling is growing in the European beech section so it may well be one of them. But I have my reservations. This seedling has very narrow cotyledons, but beeches have extremely broad cotyledons, as illustrated by my photo in this post. By the way, the two coloured tubes bottom right are drinking straws used to mark the different species planting areas. [Update (November 2008): My apprehensions were right; I don't know what this seedling was, but it certainly wasn't a beech!]

grey alder No. 4 - a right beast

Back to Set A. Behold the treeblog king! Grey alder No. 4. I just can't get over how amazing this seedling is. It's just... awesome. The whole top quarter is new height growth from just the last few weeks!

Scots pine gamma

The Gamma Scots pine. A lovely straight stem on this one.

Scots pine Alpha

The Alpha Scots pine. Massive height growth so far this spring! You can see the thicker, lighter green portion of the stem is new. A little bit wiggly though.

close up of top of Alpha Scots pine

A closer view of the rosette on top of the Alpha pine. They're kinda hard to make out, but just below the pot rim is a pair of 'horns', one on either side of the stem. I think these will develop into the first pair of branches. Excitement!


Posted in The treeblog trees





Aira Force Money Tree

coins in wood

I stayed with fifteen ecology buddies at the Whinfell Forest Center Parcs village in the Lake District from Monday to Friday. We had a right good time! Sun, swimming, beer, BBQs, badgers, and beer. On Wednesday, nine of us went on a bit of a day trip to Aira Force, a waterfall near Ullswater. The footpath to the fall runs through some woodland and along the way we saw an unusual sight. A fallen tree (beech I presume) covered in hammered-in coinage: the Aira Force Money Tree! I've heard about money trees before but I think this is the first one I've seen in the flesh. Did I hammer a coin in? No, and I kind of regret that.

coins in wood: the Aira Force Money Tree

Coins and ecologists.

twenty euro cents coin embedded in wood

€0.20. Foreign currencies are represented too!

Aira Force Money Tree

The Aira Force Money Tree. The stump is also covered in coins!

I wonder how long ago the tree was cut down. And I wonder if the coin-hammering started while the tree was still alive.


Posted in Holidays and field trips





Photos from Aira Force & Center Parcs

In the last post I showed you the money tree at Aira Force in the Lake District. Well, the fun didn't stop there! Besides Aira Force itself, there were further items of interest to be seen further up the trail.

lush countryside view

View over Ullswater from the footpath leading to Aira Force.

sunny oak woodland

Typical view of the oak woodland around Aira Force.

stony woodland river

Aira Beck upstream of Aira Force. The river looked to be a little low in its flow. Old alders were plentiful - a sort of naturally copiced alder is in the middle of the river in this photograph.

large bracket fungus

This large bracket fungus was growing on a poorly-looking alder growing above Aira Beck.

gigantic birch

Check out this behemoth of a birch! It was so big it was barely recognisable! There were a few similar birches reaching the kind of size most birches never even come close to.

massive spruce

And if the giant birches weren't enough, there was this gigantic Sitka spruce, the like of which I ain't ever seen before! This photo does not do it justice, because in the flesh this tree is a jaw-dropping spectacle. That massive branch alone is as big as your standard ready-for-harvesting forestry Sitka!

tall pines against a blue sky

This is the view from just outside our chalet back at Center Parcs, 69 Seven Pines: some lovely pine. Not bad, eh?

weird spruce root growing over another spruce

And finally, this slice of weirdness was just around the corner from our chalet. The Sitka spruce once growing on the right had grown roots over the left Sitka, and the two trees' roots had merged together a bit. Freakish.


Posted in Holidays and field trips + Notable trees





Set A treeblog seedling update (Day 421)

I just got back from five days of walking and camping in the Highlands! I have sore feet and many photos! But first I think you should take a look at these Set A photos taken by my father on Thursday (Day 421). They will blow you away!

Alpha Scots pine

The Alpha Scots pine is shooting up like a rocket! Just look at it go! About four fifths of its height is new growth from this spring! Compare the photo above with the photo from Day 409 in this treeblog update from less than a fortnight ago! That same post also has photos of the Gamma Scots pine and grey alder No. 4 which you might want to compare with the photos below...

Gamma Scots pine

The Gamma Scots pine! While not as great as the Alpha pine, this seedling is still seeing some tremendous growth.

cider gum No. 13

Now this is crazy! Check out cider gum No. 13!!! I never thought I'd see one of my cider gums looking like this so soon! Compare the above photo with a photo in this post from about three weeks ago. I can barely believe that it's the same seedling! ...Lots of lateral growth appearing - I wasn't kidding, was I?

cider gum No. 14

Cider gum No. 14. Not quite as advanced as No. 13, but I guess that it'll look pretty similar in three weeks or so. It's nice to have cider gums that aren't just a single boring stem.

grey alder No. 4

The Beast, grey alder No. 4. This monstrosity just keeps getting bigger!

And coming soon... a Set B update with photos of some very small seedlings in comparison to these Set A brutes.


Posted in The treeblog trees





Depressing lack of Set B seedlings

Today is the 76th day since I planted 105 nuts/seeds and only three have sprouted. And two of those might not even be trees after all, so perhaps only one treeblog Set B seedling has sprouted! What a depressingly pathetic turn-out. I have no idea why such a disaster should befall, but a disaster this is. In comparison, I tell you that of last year's Set B, by Day 87 sixteen seedlings had sprouted! I can't believe how wrong Set B has gone! I really hope a bunch of new seedlings pop up in June.

Anyway, I took some photographs of Set B today; check them out below. I also spent a hour or so gently tying the big cider gums to wooden kebab skewers with cotton to try to keep them straight - a very fiddly and tedious exercise. The old Alpha Scots pine appears to have over-stretched itself in height growth and had been bent all over the place by the recent heavy rains, so I also tied that up to a skewer. Photos shall be coming soon. I hope this skewer idea isn't a disaster.

downy birch seedling

This is the only seedling that I think definitely belongs to treeblog's Set B: it is a downy birch. On Day 57 it was photographed with a birch seed case still attached to one of its cotyledons. Unfortunately, there has been little growth since then.

two possible sweet chestnut seedlings

Here there may be sweet chestnuts. The biggie on the left is the one featured in previous updates, but it doesn't look particularly chestnutty. The cotyledons of both seedlings match, and I hope this is too much of a coincidence for them to be weeds. [Update (November 2008): Wrong! They were weeds. Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) in fact. Bah!]

fake European beech seedling

The last time I put up photos of the Set B seedlings (Day 57), I explained my reservations as to the autenthicity of this seedling. While growing in the 'European beech section', this seedling has never been a European beech. Weeeeeed.

fake mountain pine seedling

In the 'mountain pine section' there are two seedlings. Unfortunately, they are not coniferous. So weeds again. Interestingly, this one appears to be tricotyledonous.


Posted in The treeblog trees












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