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May 2010

Old wood-burning poem. FotT #47. Earth Day / Arbor Day photography contest winner.

Here’s an unattributed old poem I found on the internets a while back:

Beech-wood fires burn bright and clear
If the logs are kept a year;
Store your beech for Christmastide
With new-cut holly laid beside;
Chestnut's only good, they say,
If for years 'tis stored away;
Birch and fir-wood burn too fast
Blaze too bright and do not last;
Flames from larch will shoot up high,
Dangerously the sparks will fly;
But ash-wood green and ash-wood brown
Are fit for a Queen with a golden crown.

Oaken logs, if dry and old,
Keep away the winter's cold;
Poplar gives a bitter smoke,
Fills your eyes and makes you choke;
Elm-wood burns like churchyard mould,
E'en the very flames are cold;
It is by the Irish said;
Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread,
Apple-wood will scent the room,
Pear-wood smells like flowers in bloom;
But ash-wood wet and ash-wood dry
A King may warm his slippers by.


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This month’s Festival of the Trees is up, hosted by Jasmine of Natures Whispers. It’s a brilliant edition: go read!

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The winner of’s 2010 Earth Day / Arbor Day photography competition has been announced: Karen Hibbert of trees, if you please. You can admire the worthy winner, of a scene in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York, here.

Posted in Miscellany

treeblog update (Set C, Day 426): the downy birches

Downy birch No. 1 – one of the very best in class. Notice that the leaves have many lobes.

It’s been over five weeks since the last Set C downy birch update. The last we saw of our little birchy friends, they were mere matchsticks. But throw a little spring into the mix and we’ve got leaves! A wee bit of bad news and a couple of bits of good news: No. 26, alive in the last update, is now dead; No. 16, “dead” in the last update, is now alive; No. 23, “dead” in the last update, might actually be alive… or it might really be dead.

Now before we plough on with the rest of the photos (taken today, 426 days after I planted the Set C birch seeds), I heartily recommend that you take a quick look at the last update – Day 389 - so that you can really appreciate the difference a month makes. Progress may have been a little slow thus far, but once summer kicks in these bad boys should be sizzling.

No. 2 – another one of the finest performers.

Nos. 4 and 10 – both decent little seedlings.

No. 14 – another birch in the cream of the crop.

Nos. 12, 13, 15 and 21 – all sort of common or garden, nothing special, middle-of-the-road seedlings. Nothing wrong with that, right?

Nos. 22, 23, 27 and 28 – again, all Johnny Averages.

No. 30 – one of the better-off middling birches – but notice how few lobes its leaves have compared with the better performers’, like No. 1’s.

The underperformers: Nos. 5, 16 (back from the dead!), 23 (back from the dead?), and 25. New growth (or in the case of No. 23, possible new growth) has been circled.

Coming soon… updates for the Set A Scots pines and cider gums, the goat willow formerly known as PSAUS, the Set D(b) cut-leaved beech, and the Set C(r) and Set D(r) rowans – the Set C(r) rowans are looking awesome!

Posted in The treeblog trees

treeblog update (Set C(r), Day 369): the rowans

Whitwell Moor rowan No. 1 (W1).

Well, it’s not the most fun job in the world, but someone’s got to do it. It’s a labour of love. It’s another treeblog Set C(r) update (photos taken this afternoon – Day 369).

Happily the Set C(r) rowans (Sorbus aucuparia), last paraded before the world five weeks ago, are all healthy and vigorous. They’ve all got their first true leaf and the majority are showing off their second. Their progress is a pleasure to behold!

Rowans W2 to W5.

Rowans W6 to W9.

Rowans W10 to W13.

Rowans W14 to W17.

Rowans W18 to W20 and Upper Midhope rowan No. 2 (U2).

Rowan U1.

Rowans U3 to U6.

Rowans U7 to U10.

Rowans U11 to U14.

Rowans U15 to U18.

Rowans U19 and U20 and Whitwell Moor tricot rowans Nos. 1 and 2 (WT1 and WT2).

Rowans WT3 to WT6. The sixth tricot is still in the seed tray with all its feral brethren, awaiting transplantation.

Posted in The treeblog trees

Set D round-up: the beeches and the rowans

1. The cut-leaved beech (Days 213 to 228)

The terrific Set D(b) cut-leaved beech on the 1st of May (Day 213)…

…the 11th of May (Day 223)…

…and the 16th of May (Day 228) – Sunday. Here come the first pair of true leaves!

2. A beech miracle

On the 11th of April, my impatience at the lack of any seedlings in the Set D beech and sweet chestnut seed trays got the better of me and I began to rummage. I didn’t find a single germinated sweet chestnut, but I did find three germinated beechnuts. Two of these were cut- or fern-leaved beeches (Fagus sylvatica ‘Aspleniifolia’), one of which was still stuck inside its woody cupule (and to date has yet to appear above-soil, if it is still alive); the other is alive and well and was the star of the first part of this post. The third germinated beechnut was the only one out of the normal beech (Fagus sylvatica) I planted to do so… but in my rummaging I accidentally went and broke off its root. Shit.

I thought there was no hope, but I replanted it anyway.

(You can see where this is going, right?) Well, my optimism was rewarded! I checked on the treeblog stable this very afternoon (Set D(b) Day 230) and look what miracle awaited me:

Yes!!! The only germinating beechnut collected from the beech at Wigtwizzle has survived!

3. The Set D(r) rowans (Day 36)

I feel like the Set D(r) rowans are playing second fiddle to the Set C(r) rowans, mostly because I planted them thinking that Set C had failed to produce anything other than downy birches. But I was wrong, and now I have four lots of rowans: Set C(r) Whitwell Moor, Set C(r) Upper Midhope, Set D(r) Whitwell Moor, and Set D(r) Oaken Clough. I’m happy to be growing the offspring from three different trees, but does treeblog really need two years of seedlings from the rowan on Whitwell Moor?

Oaken Clough rowans Nos. 1 to 4 (O1 to 04).

Rowans O5 to O8.

Rowan O9 and Whitwell Moor rowans Nos. 1 to 3 (W1 to W3).

Rowans W4 to W7.

Photos taken on Sunday (Set D(r) Day 36).

When I planted (/replanted) the Set D(r) rowans on the 11th of April, I had nine Oaken Clough seedlings and twenty-two Whitwell Moor seedlings; of these all of the Oaken Clough offspring have survived, but only seven of the Whitwell Moor seedlings are still with us. Further seedlings have appeared in the seed tray since – I’ll transplant these soon.

Posted in The treeblog trees

Set A Scots pines update (Day 1149)

Scots pine Alpha on Thursday evening (Set A, Day 1149). Those candles are getting pretty long now…

…but back on the 24th of April they weren’t really candles at all; more glorified buds.

A week later, on the 1st of May, and good progress had already been made.

Here they are again on the 11th of May…

…and this is an almost up-to-date view from Thursday (the 20th of May). Not be long until the needles appear now!

In addition to the candles on top of Scots pine Alpha, each of its three little branches has a candle on the tip (seen here on Tuesday).

With less candles than its stablemate, here’s Scots pine Gamma. It currently shares its pot with an ash and a sycamore seedling.

Not a Scots pine, but here’s the PSAUS a.k.a. the post-Set A unknown seedling a.k.a. a goat willow.

And last but not least, here’s the ash that germinated last year in grey alder No. 3’s pot: a real tree in minature.

Speaking of the grey alders, I wonder how they’re getting on. I think we’re due another visit soon, you & I. But first things first: the next two updates will deal with the cider gums. Yes, there have been deaths. But there has also been reincarnation!

Posted in The treeblog trees

Set A cider gums update (Day 1149): Nos. 1 to 7

(Photos taken last Thursday – Set A, Day 1149). Winter 2009/2010 was the harshest for years. It wreaked havoc upon the poor, poor cider gums…

Cider gum No. 1: it’s dead, a victim of the winter of doom. This is quite sad for treeblog - the first Set A death in three years. But instead of mourning, let us celebrate the life of No. 1 by looking back over its photo-timeline:

Cider gum No. 1 (2007 – 2010)… this is Goodbye

Cider gum No. 2: one of the tallest. A true Class I gum. Frost damage: the terminal buds at the tips of all its branches are missing, except for the leader at the top of the tree, which is happily intact!

No.2’s healthy leading shoot – most of the other cider gums weren’t this lucky.

Cider gum No. 3: one of the three Class III gums (the runts). Last Thursday I was 99 percent sure that No. 3 was a goner, but a green stem and that little bit of green remaining in those two leaves gave me hope.

Yesterday my optimism was rewarded! A bud! Cider gum No. 3 is alive! I tell you, it may only be tiny, but this is one stubborn tree. Last year it refused to give up the ghost after the winter of 2008/2009 killed most of it. Don’t write it off just yet! (Photo taken this evening.)

Cider gum No. 4: although appearing largely unscathed by the frosts, some of the terminal buds are missing, along with the leading shoot.

As you can see, while the leader has died, a new shoot is ready to take up the mantle and assume leadership.

Cider gum No. 5: suffered heavy frost damage. Most of its leaves are dead along with all its terminal buds, including the leader. In the last cider gum update, at the beginning of April, I wrote that I thought it could be dead.

Thankfully I was proven wrong; there is plenty of regrowth at the top of No. 5.

Cider gum No. 6: another of the Class III gums, and another of those that I thought had kicked the bucket. Virtually all of the tree is dead…

…apart from the root system, which means No. 6 has cling to life and squeezed out a couple of tiny buds right at the base of its stem. It’s alive!

Cider gum No. 7: the tallest of all the cider gums, but unfortunately struck hard by frost damage. All terminal buds including the leader are dead, but there are signs of new growth at the very top:

I spotted this impressive branch scar low down on the main stem of No. 7. Is it big enough to call a trunk yet? I guess not, but it looks a lot like one in miniature here.

Posted in The treeblog trees

Set A cider gums update (Day 1149): Nos. 8 to 15

(Photos taken on Thursday the 20th of May – Set A, Day 1149). Carrying on from where the first part of this update left off…

Cider gum No. 8: while the bud of its leading shoot has been killed by the frosts, more than half of the terminal buds on its branches are doing fine.

No. 8’s damaged leader, surrounded by new shoots.

Cider gum No. 9: must be particularly resilient to frost damage, as the terminal buds on all its upper branches are intact.

A healthy leader.

Cider gum No. 10: while it looks healthy from a distance, up close you can see that all terminal buds along with the leading shoot are dead, and – disturbingly - there is no new growth noticeable. Uh-oh.

No. 10’s dead leader. Notice the lack of replacement shoots.

Cider gum No. 11: I thought this one was stone dead in the last cider gum update, but I was wrong. Like No. 6, No. 11’s roots survived and two new shoots have now sprouted from the base of the stem. The rest of the tree is dead, however.

Shoots! From the roots!

Cider gum No. 12: while the terminal buds on the lower branches are dead, those on the upper ones are alive...

…as is the leader.

Cider gum No. 13: most of the terminal buds are dead, but those on the upper branches are OK.

No. 13’s leader is fine too.

Cider gum No. 14: a Class I gum. Again, most of the terminal buds are dead, apart from some on the upper branches. The leading shoot is alive and well.

No. 14’s leading shoot.

No. 14 also developed flower buds last July, but to date they’ve yet to bloom. I’m doubt they ever will.

And finally, another death: cider gum No. 15 is no more, destroyed by the harshest winter for many a year. Let us remember the life and times of one of treeblog’s smallest cider gums and pay our respects to the departed:

Cider gum No. 15 (2007 – 2010)

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I’m off up to Scotland this afternoon to do the Skye Trail. No posts for a week!

Posted in The treeblog trees

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