Set A grey alders update (April & September 2011)

Grey alder No. 1 last week.

On Thursday I visited the grey alders (Alnus incana) with my father (Day 1646 – 4 years, 6 months since I planted them as seeds). The weather was the epitome of perfection. This autumn heatwave / Indian summer we are having is incredible. All three surviving alders are doing well, and I’d say that Nos. 2 & 3 are actually thriving despite their past hardships.

No. 1 again from a different angle, showing how leant over it has become in its exposed location. Taking account of the lean it is now 2.5 metres tall but the full length of the tree from base to tip is 3.3 m. No new sheep damage, but the stem is an ugly, scaly mess to 85 cm from the ground thanks to past injuries.

Here’s No. 1 back on the 27th of April (Day 1491 – 4 years, 1 month since planting). Apparently I never put the photos from that visit on Treeblog and I’m not sure why. Back then it was just coming into leaf and retained a more upright posture.

Here’s a look at some of that sheep damage to the lower stem. Nasty.

This is grey alder No. 2 on Thursday, looking shorter than it really is because of the bracken. I reckon it’s the best of the three at the moment, which is quite a departure from the early days when No. 2 was always the smallest. (No. 4 was always the biggest, R.I.P.)

No new sheep damage; excellent condition.

No. 2 in April, before this year’s crop of bracken had grown up.

There had been a little bit of fresh sheep damage in April, but I don’t think there’s been any since.

Grey alder No. 3 last week. It sure has put on a lot of crown growth since my last visit, when it had just suffered a catastrophe – the top had broken out!

A new leader is now growing from 2 inches below the stump.

No. 3 in April. The top must have broken only just before my visit, but I have no idea how it could have happened. Surely wind wouldn’t have been able to snap the top of a supple little sapling, but a couple of pieces of bracken hanging from its branches maybe do point to a powerful wind. Bizarre.

What a shame.

Now then you lot, I’ve prepared thee a treat of three tables containing height and girth measurements of the three alders collected on various visits. The trees were planted out at the beginning of April 2010, so the first height measurements were made when they were still in the back garden. These figures are not super-accurate, but we do our best!

Date No. 1 No. 2 No. 3
28/03/10 2.07 1.59 1.90
25/09/10 2.80 2.50 2.75
11/02/11 - 2.45 2.75
13/03/11 2.70 - -
29/09/11 2.50 3.05 2.75

Table 1. The approximate heights of grey alders Nos. 1, 2 & 3 in metres.

Date No. 1 No. 2 No. 3
20/06/10 4.0 2.0 4.0
25/09/10 5.0 4.5 5.5
11/02/11 - 5.0 6.0
13/03/11 5.0 - -
29/09/11 6.0 7.0 7.0

Table 2. The approximate girths at breast height of grey alders Nos. 1, 2 & 3 in centimetres.

Date No. 1 No. 2 No. 3
20/06/10 9.0 9.0 9.5
25/09/10 9.5 11.0 11.5
11/02/11 - 10.5 12.0
13/03/11 9.5 - -
29/09/11 11.5 13.0 14.0

Table 3. The approximate girths at ground level of grey alders Nos. 1, 2 & 3 in centimetres.

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