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September 2008

treeblog update (Set A, Day 524): cider gums

Another month, and another treeblog update. This time it’s the turn of Set A’s cider gums. I took the photographs earlier today (Day 524).

cider gums Nos. 1 and 2

Cider gums Nos. 1 (left) and 2 (right).

cider gums Nos. 4 and 5

Cider gums Nos. 4 (left) and 5 (right).

cider gums Nos. 7 and 8

Cider gums Nos. 7 (left) and 8 (right). No. 7 is the reigning gum champion, height-wise.

cider gums Nos. 9 and 10

Cider gums Nos. 9 (left) and 10 (right).

cider gums Nos. 11 and 12

Cider gums Nos. 11 (left) and 12 (right).

cider gums Nos. 13 and 14

Cider gums Nos. 13 (left) and 14 (right).

cider gums Nos. 3, 6 and 15

Cider gums Nos. 3 (left), 6 (centre), and 15 (right).

It is interesting how the cider gums differ from one another in terms of colour; some (e.g. No. 13) have very light green leaves, while others (e.g. No. 12) have darker, blue-green leaves. I wonder why?

Posted in The treeblog trees

Autumn early this year?

fallen birch leaves litter the lawn

It's only half way through September but there are yellow birch leaves littering our lawn. Is autumn here already? It might as well be. 2008 held the worst summer I can remember, weather-wise. Whole weeks of grim, overcast skies broken up by days of incessant rain. How depressing. Where were those incredibly hot days (and nights) of 2006? Perfect days beneath perfect blue skies.

According to the media, 2008 is shaping up to be one of the wettest years on record. Last year was pretty wet too, what with the Great Sheffield Flood and all. But I do remember talking about how long the leaves were staying on the trees. Up in Edinburgh, I'm sure most trees still had half their leaves well into November. So a late autumn, or at least a late winter.

But this year... autumn starting earlier than normal, perhaps because of the dire weather?

Posted in Miscellany

Hope to Upper Midhope (18th September 2008) Part 1

Ha! There I was, moaning in the last post about the complete absence of any decent days this summer, when along comes the nicest day in weeks! Thursday was beautiful, and as chance would have it I had already set my mind to a long walk that day whether (weather) rain or shine. I stayed overnight in Sheffield at my mates’ flat, then caught a train into Hope in the Peak District. At ten o’clock in the morning I was striking out on a solo adventure beneath a beautiful blue sky, over moor and under tree. The weather gods hath smiled uponeth me.

Lose Hill from the south-east. The last vestiges of a morning mist linger over the valley.

A solitary hawthorn laden with berries (haws).

Lose Hill from the north-east. Feeling very warm after climbing a hill.

The view from Hope Cross.

The view north-east across the River Ashop, not far from Alport Bridge.

Just across the bridge now, and a big-trunked holly grows over the River Alport.

The lane to Alport Castles Farm is lined with these old hawthorns, probably once a neat hedge but left to go wild and treeish.

The view across Alport dale to Alport Castles, an ancient landslip – reputedly the largest in England.

Posted in Gone for a walk

Hope to Upper Midhope (18th September 2008) Part 2

An area of clearcut coniferous woodland in Alport dale. There were a few signs around explaining that over the next 40 years, most of the existing timber-producing conifers will be cut down and replaced with native woodland. So alders and rowans and birch and oak and hazel and the like. Sounds good!

Looking over the edge at Alport Castles. The famous Tower is just off-picture to the left. There’s quite a lot of coniferous forest in the background to replace!

Just off the moors the footpath heads through a nice bit of birch-rowan woodland.

Updated December 2008. Silk button spangle galls produced by the silk button spangle gall wasp (Neuroterus numismalis) on the underside of a fallen English oak (Quercus robur) leaf.

Looking downriver from the old packhorse bridge at Slippery Stones. The 17th century bridge was originally further downstream but while Ladybower Reservoir was being built in the first half of the 20th century, the bridge was taken down and the stones numbered, then reconstructed at its present location.

Around the corner from Slippery Stones, at the bottom of Cranberry Clough – this lonely downy birch (Betula pubescens).

Just below Upper Midhope now, and it’s almost sunset.

Just along the road from the preceding photo – and but a stone’s throw from the fallen rowan – I took a rest on this old gate.

P.S. It might be little late in the day, but if you haven’t already, go check out this month's Festival of the Trees (No. 27) over at Exploring the World of Trees.

Posted in Gone for a walk

Collecting rowan berries and downy birch seeds

There’s been a small voice in the back of my head lately and it’s been telling me to go and get the berries and seeds I need for treeblog’s Set C. So today I went on a wander to see what I could do about it. I’m going to be planting three species of tree for Set C: downy birch (Betula pubescens), rowan (Sorbus aucuparia), and sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa).

the rowan

I already have some rowan berries from the fallen rowan that I collected on the 15th of August, six weeks ago to the day. It’s a good job I collected those when I did because the last time I saw the fallen rowan, just over a week ago, there wasn’t a single berry left on it. But there was another rowan I wanted berries from – the one in the photo above - and I’ve paid it a visit today. Its berries were very ripe and quite a lot had been shed. I gathered up a fair few, some from the ground and some still on the tree.

the downy birch

My next port of call was this big old downy birch (probably - it might be a silver birch), only a short walk from the rowan. Whilst not a very tall tree, its short trunk has an impressive girth to about one metre from the floor, where it splits into numerous spreading branches. The approach to this tree is a little bit special. You have to squeeze down a narrow cow-made path through a cluster of young birches and pines, which happen to frame this picturesque tree as it squats in its own little clearing on the edge of open moorland. When I arrived, seeds were collected. Hundreds of them.

a pearl-studded puffball

There were a lot of these pearl-studded puffballs (Lycoperdon perlatum) under the big birch. I saw plenty of these looking well past their best at the end of February down in Thetford Forest when I was collecting data from a silver birch provenance trial. My guess is that this species of puffball is associated with birch, perhaps in a mycorrhizal role.

In other treeblog news... (1) I still need to collect sweet chestnuts, but I might not be able to get my hands on them for a while yet; and (2) this blog is well overdue a Set A update.

Posted in Gone for a walk + The treeblog trees

treeblog update (Set A, Day 550): grey alders & Scots pines

Finally, a good old-fashioned treeblog Set A update. This post holds tree blogging gold: photos of all four grey alders and both Scots pines, thirty-five days since the last equivalent update. Thirty-five days – five weeks – is a long time, and the grey alders have grown a lot. The Scots pines haven’t changed much, but that’s no problem. I took the photos this afternoon – Day 550, or Sunday the 28th of September, 2008 if you prefer. Now without further ado, check out these six beauts:

Grey alder No. 1. No longer leaning but standing tall.

Grey alder No. 2. Letting the side down by looking a little wilty. Can't be having that.

Grey alder No. 3. Looking pretty cool having lost its lower leaves, like a real tree in miniature.

Grey alder No. 4. Still the Beast, but looking very sorry for itself after losing a significant amount of leaf area to the hungry mouths of caterpillars. I took a few photos of these cheeky buggers today which will no doubt feature in a future post.

Scots pine Alpha. Always looks as if it’s being electrocuted.

Scots pine Gamma.

The grey alders are huge now. Very impressive sizes for two growing seasons. In fact they are still growing, churning out new buds and leaves on almost a daily basis. To give an idea of size, grey alder No. 4 reaches waist height (including its pot). The Alpha Scots pine, in comparison, is about as the same size as a big, spread-out hand. It’s quite amazing comparing the grey alders and Scots pines as they are today with how they were five months ago, at the end of April and the beginning of 2008’s growing season. Take a look at this treeblog update from Day 397 (April 28th). Just incredible! The power of trees.

Next post? The cider gum update, of course.

Posted in The treeblog trees

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