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Posted on October 3, 2009 by Ash
Looking into the canopy of the Whitwell Moor rowan. [Photo: 12 Sep. ‘09]
On Saturday the 12th of September I went for a late summer’s wander with my father. The weather was beautiful, the scenery was stunning, and our route just happened to pass by a couple of special trees: two rowans from which we collected berries to plant for treeblog’s Set D, one on Whitwell Moor and one overlooking Oaken Clough high up in the Ewden Valley.
Berries on the Whitwell Moor rowan. [Photo: 12 Sep. ‘09]
I previously collected berries from the Whitwell Moor rowan in autumn 2008 which I planted as part of treeblog Set C this spring (along with berries from another rowan, downy birch seeds, and sweet chestnuts), then replanted as Set C-r on the 12th of May. None of those seeds have germinated to date, presumably because I never pretreated them before planting them - something I didn’t realise was necessary. Without the pretreatment they still ought to germinate, but a whole year later rather than in the same year like I expected. So treeblog is expecting rowans from both Set C and Set D to germinate in spring 2010!
The Whitwell Moor rowan on the day of my Set D berry collection: the 12th of September 2009.
I discovered the Oaken Clough rowan this summer on the 18th of July. When I first lay peepers on it I knew that it had the biggest girth of any rowan I’d ever seen. I measured it on the berry run: 3.4 m (11 ft 2 in.) in circumference at about shin height. That gives a diameter of 1.1 m (3 ft 7 in.). These figures might not sound very impressive, but for a rowan they are well impressive. Unfortunately, this monster of a rowan has suffered a catastrophic collapse. Most of the collapsed boughs nevertheless remain alive, and since this incident the tree has put out a lot of new growth. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t keep on going for many years to come.
The Oaken Clough rowan. Massive yet collapsed. [Photo: 18 Jul. ‘09]
After I’d picked my berries, I sort of forgot about them for a couple of weeks. I just couldn’t stomach the upcoming task…
The Oaken Clough rowan berries. The black ones have gone bad. [Photo: 20 Sep. ‘09].
Then last week I got around to removing the seeds from the berries. This was a long, time-consuming process. I estimate it took me four or five hours, and that was only working with about half of the berries! The other half had gone rotten because I’d waited so long to act. I should have removed all of the seeds when the berries were fresh, but then ten hours of seed extraction would have sent me pathologically insane. Whatever, the outcome is I have plenty of seeds.
The Whitwell Moor rowan berries. [Photo: 20 Sep. ‘09].
This afternoon I removed any bits of husk still attached to the seeds. How nice and clean they look!
The clean extracted rowan seeds earlier today. The Oaken Clough rowan’s seeds appear to be slightly larger than those of the Whitwell Moor rowan.
Right. Now the seeds are all ready for pretreatment. To improve my chances of Set D success, I’ll be trying out not one, not two, but three methods of pretreatment. My two piles of seeds will be split into thirds, and each pair of thirds will undergo a different method of pretreatment. These methods are laid out in a Forestry Commission practice guide, and an upcoming post will detail what they are. The pretreatment has actually already begun for one pair of thirds: they are currently being soaked for 48 hours to rinse off any germination-inhibiting chemicals!
Posted on October 5, 2009 by Ash
Earlier this afternoon I noticed several caterpillars on two of the Set A grey alders (Alnus incana). There were a few colourful caterpillars munching away on grey alder No. 3 and there were several white “snowflakey” caterpillars on grey alder No. 2. These snowflake caterpillars have been on the alders since at least mid-August and they seem to have some kind of magic power that can prevent a camera from focussing on them. They eat in random patches to leave the leaves full of holes like a Swiss cheese whereas the colourful, curly caterpillars eat in a more systematic fashion, devouring neat sections between veins. These caterpillars stand with their tails sticking up into the air; when I got close to them they gave them a little wave.
Last year there were two or three other species of caterpillar on the alders. Have a look at all the posts tagged with ‘caterpillars’ if you’re interested!
By the way, I’ve no idea what species either of these caterpillars belong to. Leave a comment or drop me an email if you know what they are, please!
Posted on October 9, 2009 by Ash
High labour and full greet apparailinge
From The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.
Posted on October 11, 2009 by Ash
Three sweet chestnuts sitting in an opened cupule. The dead catkin that held the male flowers, still attached to the base of the cupule (which once was a female flower), can be seen in the background. [Photo: 8 Oct. ‘09]
Last Thursday (the 8th of October) I went on a tree mission to Wigtwizzle with my sister. Mission objective: to collect nuts from the massive sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) there for treeblog Set D.
The Wigtwizzle chestnut. Beast! [Photo: 7 Jul. ‘07]
While a lot of unripe cupules were stillon the tree, a great many ripe ones were lying open on the ground below. While trying to avoid a nettling, I managed to gather a haul of chestnuts with a total fresh weight of 75 g (2 ½ oz). Mission accomplished!
The Set D sweet chestnut haul. Third time lucky?
I collected nuts from the same tree in 2007 and 2008 for Set B and Set C respectively, but I didn’t manage to grow a single seedling. I now know the error of my bad old ways; I erred by waiting until spring before planting, by which time the chestnuts – which lose moisture rapidly and so are unsuited to storage – would have been well and truly dessicated. This time around, with only two days passing between collection and planting, treeblog might finally produce some baby sweet chestnuts.
I planted one hundred of the nuts yesterday in five forty-individual-pockets-to-a-tray seed trays using a special seeds and cuttings compost from B&Q. I ran out of room (and out of compost), so I had about sixty nuts left over. Until I decide what to do with them, I’ve mixed ‘em with some damp compost and popped ‘em in a plastic bag.
One of the seed trays showing forty chestnuts in forty ‘pockets’: a planting action shot.
The final product: five seed trays with one hundred sweet chestnuts carefully picked and planted. This is treeblog Set D(c) - the chestnut part of Set D. Set D(b) – the beech part – was planted on the 30th of September and the rowan seeds – Set D(r) – have just begun pretreatment and are on schedule for a springtime planting.
The 10th of October 2009 = Set D(c) Day 0.
Posted on October 13, 2009 by Ash
So I’ve (1) collected and (2) pre-pretreated treeblog’s Set D rowan seeds. Now they are undergoing (3) pretreatment before I (4) plant them in the spring. The last time I planted rowan seeds – for treeblog Set C – I neglected to pretreat them and my folly was rewarded by a total absence of germination. (So far… A year of ‘natural pretreatment’ and they may yet germinate alongside the Set D seeds!) This time I am boosting my chances of success by trying out three different methods of pretreatment advised by the Forestry Commission in their Practice Guide Growing trees and shrubs from seed by Peter Gosling (2007) [available online in .pdf format here].
A. “Easy: natural (outdoor) pretreatment / sowing with medium”
A. On Saturday I filled two small plant pots with a one part compost, one part sand mix. Into one pot I mixed a third of the Whitwell Moor seeds; into the other I mixed a third of the Oaken Clough seeds. I’ve placed the two pots outside where they are open to rainwater but should avoid large fluctuations in daily temperature. There they shall remain until spring. Sixteen to thirty weeks from the 10th of October gives us a planting window open from the 30th of January to the 8th of May. I’ll probably plant all of the Set D rowan seeds proper in March.
B. “Moderate: artificial (temperature controlled) pretreatment with medium”
B. On Saturday I filled two empty yoghurt pots with a one part compost, one part sand mix. Into one pot I mixed a third of the Whitwell Moor seeds; into the other I mixed a third of the Oaken Clough seeds. I’ve placed the two open-topped pots in the fridge where I’ll ensure that they remain moist until spring.
C. “Skilled: artificial (temperature controlled) pretreatment without medium”
C. On Saturday the 3rd of October I started separate 48-hour soakings of the Whitwell Moor and Oaken Clough seeds. I rinsed the seeds two or three times during the 48-hours. A week later (last Saturday), I transferred the surface-dry seeds to two small polythene bags and placed them in the fridge.
* * * * *
So there you go. Will the seeds make it through the winter? Will any of them germinate next spring? Will there be any difference between the Whitwell Moor and Oaken Clough seedlings? Which method of pretreatment will be the most successful? Only time will tell!!!
Posted on October 18, 2009 by Ash
A goat willow (Salix caprea) with birch saplings on Whitwell Moor.
This set of photos isn’t very recent. I took them three weeks ago, on the 26th of September – the day I collected cut-leaved beech nuts for treeblog Set D. It was a beautiful, beautiful day.
A hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) below Hunger Hill.
Entering Yew Trees Lane Wood from the fields, you are plunged into an amazing environment of dense foliage and huge pine trunks.
A Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) looms overhead…
Scots pine bark.
It may not look very big in this photo, but the tree in the centre is a very tall, very straight beech (Fagus sylvatica). It’s a cracking specimen!
Posted on October 21, 2009 by Ash
Hazel (Corylus avellana).
Photos taken on the 26th of September (Part One here).
Rose-bay willow-herb (Epilobium angustifolium) in a small area of clear-fell.
Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis).
Holly (Ilex aquifolium). Psst. Wanna see a photo of the same holly in February?
Three brothers. On the left: a hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna). In the middle: a fairly recently deceased beech (Fagus sylvatica). On the right: a longer-dead tree, probably a beech also.
Posted on October 31, 2009 by Ash
Photos taken this afternoon in the Millstones Wood.
Any idea what species these are? I’m useless at identifying fungi. I need to get myself a decent field guide and get self-improving! I think these might all belong to the Russula genus, but I’m not confident. These mushrooms were: seen in South Yorkshire, England; at the end of October; in an area of woodland composed predominantly of European beech (Fagus sylvatica) with a handful of English oak (Quercus robur).
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