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May 2011



A summery walk in spring (Part Two)

If you could be any leaf, which leaf would you be? A beech leaf wouldn’t be a bad choice.

This post continues from Part One.

Take a look up into the canopy of a big, old beech still thriving in Millstones Wood. There’s some kind of symmetry at work here, I think.

Not far away – but a very different atmosphere. High on the moors below Pike Lowe, ancient tree roots are exposed as areas of peat are eroded. What kinds of tree did they support? How long ago did they live? Were these desolate moors once covered in woodland? I wish I had a time machine.

Dropping down off the moors into the upper reaches of Ewden Valley I lingered for a while at Ewden Force. There was only a trickle falling over the edge by consequence of the long hot and dry spell we are currently enjoying. Compare this gentle side of Ewden Force with the one I saw in July 2009 when there was a real thundering cascade! (I walked more or less the same route on both of these visits.)

I loved these colours. The clear sky, the dead bracken, the new bracken growth, the stones, the bilberry…

These trees on the other side of the valley must grow within an enclosed area. If they didn’t, so many would never have made it to this size without being had by the sheep. It’s on my list of places to explore.

I just can’t get enough of beech-filtered sunlight, especially when a river is involved.


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May’s edition of the Festival of the Trees - the 59th - is hosted by Suzi of Spirit Whispers. Don’t keep it waiting, go read!


Posted in Gone for a walk





treeblog update: the Set C downy birches (Part One)

Downy birch No. 1 – looking grand!

Here we go with the first look at the Set C downy birches since mid-August 2010 (Day 522). In this two-part treeblog update you can see for yourself how well each of the wee fellas are getting on. Thirteen remain alive – and two are recently deceased. I took the photos on Monday (May 2nd), 782 days after I planted them all as seeds. As you can see, some are doing better than others…

Downy birch No. 2.

Downy birch No. 4.

Downy birch No. 5 – very small.

Downy birch No. 10.

Downy birch No. 13.

Downy birch No. 14.

Downy birch No. 15 – it’s put on a lot of new growth already this spring!


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The rest of the downy birches will follow in Part Two (to be posted on Saturday.) This post and the next one are ‘pre-written’ and will ‘upload automatically’ because I’m off to France for a week – so I won’t be able to respond to emails or moderate comments until the 10th!


Posted in The treeblog trees





treeblog update: the Set C downy birches (Part Two)

Downy birch No. 21.

This post continues from Part One, which featured the other eight downy birches. All photos were taken on Monday (May 2nd) (Day 782).

Downy birch No. 22 – forking?

Downy birch No. 23 – very small.

Downy birch No. 25 – not looking good at all. Last August it had two main stems, but one has died and fallen off.

Downy birch No. 27.

The next two trees – Nos. 16 & 30 – are, I believe, dead. A couple of weeks ago when I carried out the treeblog census I hoped that they were just late flushing, as the buds looked to be OK – but I was mistaken. I don’t think they made it through the winter. Set C is down to thirteen downy birches.

Downy birch No. 16 – funnily enough, I thought this one had died last year (winter 2009/2010) but I turned out to be wrong. I hope I’m wrong for a second time!

Downy birch No. 30, deceased.


Posted in The treeblog trees





Holiday snaps from the French Riviera

Whizzing past a vineyard in the south of France.

I flew to France with three mates a couple of weeks ago. We landed at Nimes, picked up our hire car, and set out on a six-day jaunt along the Côte d’Azur taking in Marseilles, Toulon, Saint-Tropez, Cannes, Monaco, Nice and Arles. It was awesome. A few observations: the French don’t know what real tea is / beer costs twice as much as it does in the UK / the French aren’t afraid to bash into things (other cars, bollards, etc) when parking / the French don’t appear to drink milk (or chocolate milk) / London plane (Platanus x acerifolia) is the street tree of choice / street trees and trees at campsites are almost all kept perpetually pollarded and/or subjected to extreme butchery! (And never, ever take your car into a French multi-storey car-park if you value your paintwork.)

The top of a pollarded London plane. All those wounds are bound to let in disease, and most of the trees were partially or entirely hollow. I have a photo of my friend stood inside one!

This square in Saint-Tropez was lovely with its dozens of plane trees. I wish we had somewhere like this in Sheffield!

Pine trees at one of the campsites. These pines grew in great abundance everywhere but I don’t know what species they were.

This olive tree (Olea europaea) stood in a beautiful public garden in Monaco. Judging from the size of its base, I’d say it was very old indeed.

I think this is some kind of fig tree (Ficus), but again I don’t know the species. There were quite a few growing in Monaco. I thought these buttresses made a good throne.

Some of the figs were dropping aerial roots down from their crowns. This group had almost reached the ground.

Another fig’s buttresses had formed a impressive wall!

Palm tree, Saint-Tropez.


Posted in Holidays and field trips





treeblog update: the Set C(r) rowans (Day 720)

’Upper Midhope’ rowans No. 2 (approx. 11 cm tall) & No. 5 (the shortest of the set at 7 cm).

It’s been a looong time since the Set C(r) rowans featured in a treeblog update. Since that time, the size of the set has been significantly reduced by the loss of identifying flags (read about it in the census). Here are the current lot, before I beef up the numbers by dipping into the reserves.

All of the rowans are suffering from some kind of disease – mildew? – to a varying extent, which has formed a white powder on their leaves. The two rowans in the photo above have it the worst (U2 & U5). W2 & W18 are also badly affected. So far it doesn’t appear to be having much of an impact on the overall health of the seedlings.

These photos were taken on the 2nd of May (Day 720); the height measurements were taken today (Day 738).

’Upper Midhope’ rowan No. 7 (12 cm).

’Upper Midhope’ rowan No. 14 (51 cm) & ‘Whitwell Moor’ rowan No. 2 (44 cm).

‘Whitwell Moor’ rowans No. 6 (33 cm) & No. 7 (36 cm).

‘Whitwell Moor’ rowans No. 11 (the tallest of the set at 52 cm) & No. 12 (26 cm – has had its top bitten off since this photo was taken).

‘Whitwell Moor’ rowans No. 15 (37 cm) & No. 17 (46 cm).

‘Whitwell Moor’ rowans No. 18 (34 cm) & No. 19 (22 cm).


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Sometime last week downy birch No. 13 from Set C was uprooted, probably by one of the grey squirrels that frequent our garden. I’m pretty sure it’s a goner.


Posted in The treeblog trees





Farewell, horse chestnut 32, thou sufferer of bleeding canker

Horse chestnut No. 32 on the first day of May.

Right at the very beginning of this year, by Broomhead Reservoir in Ewden Valley, I discovered a horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) with several Daedaleopsis confragosa (blushing bracket / thin walled maze polypore) brackets poking from its trunk. The tree obviously wasn’t in good health; it had recently shed a large branch and much of the tree was dead. I realised that it was suffering from bleeding canker, the bacterial disease which has stormed Britain and now infects roughly half of all our horse chestnuts.

I went to check up on the tree again on the 1st of May and noticed that a number had been painted on it. A few other bleeding canker-infected horse chestnuts nearby had also been labelled. I guessed that these trees were going to be felled soon. Someone else had noticed that these chestnuts were infected!

Maze-like gills on the underside of one of the D. confragosa brackets.

A different type of fungus had appeared a little further around the trunk. I think these are Pleurotus ostreatus (oyster mushrooms).

Here’s the wound where the largish branch had dropped off. I’ve noticed that while bleeding canker doesn’t have a noticeable impact on leaf growth – from a distance diseased trees look pretty normal – infected chestnuts are highly prone to losing whole limbs. The bleeding canker infection must seriously weaken the structure of the tree.

The most noticeable symptoms of bleeding canker are massive bark cracks on the trunk or major branches; these can lead to whole sections of bark breaking away from the tree. I suppose this is how the disease can eventually kill its host. Bleeding cankers like this one are (surprise, surprise) another symptom of… bleeding canker.

Anyway - despite its troubles, No. 32 was still putting on a brave face! It was just beginning to flower at the start of May.


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I drove past at the weekend and noticed that the numbered trees had all been felled, so I returned with my camera on Tuesday (May 24th). There isn’t much left of No. 32. A section of the trunk has been left in situ, along with the stump, but there is no trace of the rest of the tree. Everything (branches, twigs, leaves, the lot) has been taken off-site – perhaps to be disposed of in accordance with whatever regulations apply regarding trees infected by bleeding canker.

The stump. It looks like there was some decay in the centre. Was the whole right-hand side of the tree dead? It’s hard to say from the stump.

The stump and the stem, with some of the D. congragosa brackets still attached.

The other end of the stem (top end). Decay is apparent in the bottom-right quarter.

Some of the D. confragosa brackets had broken off and were lying on the floor, where they have begun to go mouldy. I pulled the best remaining specimen off the trunk to take home as a keepsake.


Posted in Pests and diseases












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