18 posts tagged with

European larch (Larix decidua)

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A summery walk in spring (Part One)

As evident from the buds on this tree, the local hawthorns (Crataegus monogyna) are primed and ready to explode into flower. Driving back to Yorkshire from Wales on Easter Monday, I saw plenty of hawthorns further south that were already white with blossom.

The ashes (Fraxinus excelsior) are in flower at the moment. The structures in this photograph are female inflorescences; I could see no male flowers on this tree. Apparently ashes can be monoecious or dioecious, but dioecious individuals are rather more common.

The bilberry bushes (Vaccinium myrtillus) were also covered with flowers. The new leaves are such a vivid green – they really liven up Whitwell Moor.

Seen on a larch (Larix decidua): something caught half-way between being a flower (larch rose) and a cone.

I saw lots of beeches (Fagus sylvatica) in full leaf; I also saw plenty that still looked bare, like this one on the edge of Millstones Wood.

A closer look shows that it has at least begun to adorn itself in greenery, and reveals that the tree is actually in flower. There are both male and female flowers in this photograph.

Poking up through the leaf litter: a wee rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) seedling.


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This post is continued in Part Two.


Posted in Gone for a walk





Cone and eggs

A not-yet-fully-developed European larch (Larix decidua) cone.

A bird’s nest sits about head height in a burnt Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris). Are those blackbird (Turdus merula) eggs?

Photographs taken on the 20th of June.


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This month’s Festival of the Trees is hosted by Yvonne of The Organic Writer. FOTT #49: go read!


Posted in Gone for a walk





Spring and decay (24th April 2010)

A European larch (Larix decidua) female flower. The larch roses have arrived later than they did last year, but they were out in force last weekend when I went to check on the progress of the Set A grey alders.

A mature birch polypore a.k.a. razor strop (Piptoporus betulinus) bracket on a fallen downy birch (Betula pubescens). Razor strop fruiting bodies are annual; this is one of 2009’s.

Wee mushrooms growing on another fallen birch.

A gnarly, lichen-encrusted rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) twig with unfurling leaves.

A pair of sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) seedlings growing in the fork of a mature sycamore.


Posted in Gone for a walk





An early spring wander (21st March 2010) (Part Two)

A dead and rotting birch (Betula). I think the little bracket fungi you may be able to make out are birch polypore (Piptoporus betulinus), but they’re pretty poor attempts at fruiting bodies.

This picture is classic Millstones Wood through and through: all rocks and twisty beeches.

This particular beech (Fagus sylvatica) has a splendidly green trunk thanks to a coating of enthusiastic leprose lichen.

I rediscovered this larch (Larix, probs decidua) wound. It hasn’t changed much since the last time I remember seeing it, on the 3rd of January 2008. I first saw the wound on the 4th of April 2007 when it was still very fresh.

Blue sky, shadows, Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris), rocks, and bilberry. What more could you want?

This dead branch reminded me of the chair in ‘Jacob’s’ cabin…

I suppose that to most people this is just a photo of a dirt floor - or more precisely, a photo of a woodland floor covered in old pine needles and bits of pine cone. But I hold a sort of weird fascination for this shining gold-silver pattern.

At one end of Millstones Wood, before it peters out into a grassy, trig-point-topped Salter hill, there grow a few stunted Scots pines and larches. Over the stone wall on the right of this photo there is a field full of gorse (Ulex europaeus) that has recently been completely burned, presumably with a view to control / eradicate it. Whether purposefully or accidentally, the fire spread over the wall where it destroyed several of the stunted pines and seriously singed a few more.

This poor pine is like one giant piece of charcoal now.

Pine cone. Victim.


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Early this morning, under the cover of fog, treeblog history was made: grey alders Nos. 2 & 3 were released into the wild in a special covert op! Parts 3 & 4 of Operation Alder shall commence next weekend, all being well, and after that I shall produce a post detailing the daring exploits of these guerrilla plantings!


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The April 2010 edition – #46 – of the Festival of the Trees is now up at Vanessa’s Trees and Shrubs Blog. Go and drink your fill of this monthly pleasure!


Posted in Gone for a walk + The treeblog trees





BudWatch (21st March 2010)

I went out for a wander on Sunday and was slightly disappointed to see such little springly progress from the buds on the locally-growing deciduous trees.

Hazel (Corylus avellana) buds and catkins. The catkins – some folks know them as lambs’ tails – are made up of male flowers. A female flower is hiding in the upper-centre of this photo.

Birch (probably downy birch, Betula pubescens).

English oak (Quercus robur). I’ve noticed that the terminal buds are often flanked by a pair of smaller buds, although the terminal bud in this photo has lost one of its two buddies. (It’s the Lonely Oak!)

Larch (probably European larch, Larix decidua) pegs and a ‘bud’ of some sort – maybe a flower very early on in development? I was very disappointed to find that there were no larch roses on this tree at all; this time last year they were out in force!

Goat willow (Salix caprea). On some of the trees catkins were already forming! I noticed that the buds on the trees with catkins were a light green while the trees without catkins had reddish buds (as in the above photo). Is this a way to tell the male trees from the female trees?

Common alder (Alnus glutinosa). Distinctively purply-velvety buds.

Hawthorn (probably the common hawthorn, Crataegus monogyna).

Here’s a wee hawthorn story: I was at college today, being taught how to use Tirfor winches in the context of stump removal. It is an agricultural college, and someone in the equestrian section pointlessly wanted a small section of hawthorn hedge, about five metres long, removing from a little patch of grass next to the stables. It was the remnant of a hedgerow that was mostly destroyed when the stables were built – a hedgerow probably laid down hundreds of years ago. Our instructor, an arboricultural legend (who shares my view that it is a great shame to get rid of something planted so long ago), reckoned it probably dated from the mid-eighteenth century, perhaps from medieval times; possibly, if it was Midland hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata), it may have dated from as far back as the tenth century! The roots were certainly grand old things.

European beech (Fagus sylvatica). The buds are easily identified with their long and pointy ways. ‘Cigar-shaped’, some say.

Sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa). Unassuming, eh?

And of the buds of other locally-growing tree species that I saw up close but are MIA from this post… Common ash (Fraxinus excelsior) buds showed no signs of opening yet, sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) buds were green and swelling, and elder (Sambucus nigra) – I saw a couple of elders with closed buds but one growing on a south-facing slope was covered in tiny green leaves, yippee!


Posted in Gone for a walk





Five favourite photos from 2009

A few weeks ago I had a look back through the photos that have appeared on treeblog over the last year and picked out my favourites. Then I agonised over whittling them down to a final five – my five favourite treeblog photos from 2009.

22nd January 2009 The Lonely Oak on Whitwell Moor at sunset. The Lonely Oak, an English or pedunculate oak (Quercus robur), is very probably the tree that I have photographed the most and very probably the tree that has appeared most on treeblog (excluding those that I’ve planted myself). It stands within a half-hour walk of my house, on one of my favoured walking routes; it has tons of character; and it is highly photogenic: it’s the Lonely Oak. This photo originally appeared in the 32nd edition of the Festival of the Trees (February 2009).

2nd February 2009 We received a pretty heavy snowfall at the beginning of last February. This was the first decent amount of snow we’d had in ages so I went on a walk to make the most of it. Out in the fields, the snow was drifting behind the walls. Walking along a footpath hidden beneath this drift, I was ploughing through waist-high snow in places. It was either that or slide down a gorse-covered hill! The wind blowing through the gaps in the dry stone wall was sculpting fantastic shapes… Millstones Wood can be seen in the left half of the background.

21st March 2009 Larch flowers – probably European larch (Larix decidua). The one on the right is a female flower, known colloquially as larch roses – they take a year to ripen into seed-containing cones. (The flower on the left is too undeveloped for me to tell whether it’s a male or female.) I find it quite humbling to think that that last spring was the first time I ever came across these beautiful little flowers. How did I ever manage to miss them before? Spring 2009 was a fantastic spring - loads of surprisingly warm days with amazing clear blue skies. I was regularly out and about making personal discoveries in the shape of alder catkins, hazel, goat willow, and, of course, larch roses. Saturday the 21st of March was one of those glorious halcyon days.

24th May 2009 The 24th of May was a beautiful day in early summer and I went out for a ride on the pushbike. I was cycling down a firebreak in a conifer plantation next to Langsett Reservoir when I spotted this perfect dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) clock almost glowing in the late afternoon sunlight as it filtered weakly through the trees.

12th September 2009 This whopping great fungus was growing from the base of a Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) in Millstones Wood. I didn’t know what species it was at the time, but I now think it’s chicken of the woods (Laetiporus sulphureus). [Update (July 2010): Wrong! It’s a dyer’s mazegill (Phaeolus schweinitzii).] I took this photograph on a walk with my dad one lovely day at the end of summer. My main aim for the walk was to collect rowan berries - which are scheduled to be planted as treeblog Set D(r) this March - but it also took in Pike Lowe, Ewden Force, and some incredible moorland along the way. Perfect.


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You may also be interested in…
Five favourite photos from 2007 & Five favourite photos from 2008


Posted in Miscellany





A late autumn’s afternoon wander (Part 2)

Autumnal larch (Larix decidua) needles.

Photos taken on Sunday the 15th of November.

To Whitwell Moor…

Could this be… a golden chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius)? Y-yes?

Mycological bird-bath.

These are immature amethyst deceivers (Laccaria amethystea). I know they are because I overhead some people in the woods say they were .

A Malus fruit – perhaps a small crab apple? Aah, Millstones Wood – you and your mysterious Maluses!

The Lonely Oak, looking all apocalyptic and stuff. Yeah, but not really. It’s a fake. A fraud. A Photoshop phoney. The sky just wasn’t red at all.


Posted in Gone for a walk





Autumn in Millstones Wood

A beech (Fagus sylvatica) in Millstones Wood. Big in real life, small in this photo.

You hear a lot of people saying how autumn is their favourite season; how nice the leaves look when they’re red and orange and gold. Well, my favourite season is summer. Autumn always feels sort of sad to me. All the good weather, all those hot summer days… those precious few months when all of the countryside is really alive… they’re history once autumn rolls round. Autumn, when all the while winter looms on the horizon. It’s depressing to think how far away spring waits.

I might have just made my outlook sound entirely bleak, but it isn’t really. A heavy snowfall will redeem a whole winter, and autumn does have a certain melancholic charm. And of course I understand the yearly cycle and appreciate its inevitability. But I can’t dream of a better fantasy than one perfect, eternal summer.

Photos taken on Saturday the 31st of October.

A large part of the wood is dominated by beech. Beech leaves decompose a lot more slowly than those of many of the other broadleaved species in Britain. That might be the main reason why the floors of beechwoods have relatively little vegetation compared with other flavours of woodland.

The sky was overcast so the light in the wood wasn’t very good. An old post has some photos that I took on a wander in nicer weather in October 2008 if you’re into that kind of thing.

Is it a beech tree? Is it a space tentacle?

A lovely beech.

A mushroom growing in a patch of bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus). I reckon it belongs to the same species as the mushrooms in the previous post, but that doesn’t help matters seeing how I dinnae know what bloody species they are.

Eurolarch (Larix decidua): the best non-native, naturalised, deciduous conifer going.

A beech leaf glows orange beneath a wee pool in the crook of a bough-trunk juncture.


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The forty-first edition of the Festival of the Trees is over at Blog do Árvores Vivas. Go read!


Posted in Gone for a walk





A walk in the sun (Part 4): back through Millstones Wood

Three and a half weeks after my walk in the sun on the lovely first of June, in this final post of a quartet, I invite you to once more join me in retracing my steps via the medium of photography. In Part 1 I walked over Whitwell Moor; in Part 2 I set off down the salt path into the Ewden valley; in Part 3 I followed the salt path to Mortimer road; and in Part 4 we shall climb back up the valley-side to Millstones Wood.


BRADFIELD PARISH COUNCIL
PUBLIC
FOOTPATH
TO

BOLSTERSTONE

SHEFFIELD CO-OP RAMBLERS
1921-1973
TO THE MEMORY OF
J.M. BIRKHEAD. J.P.

The body of water to the right is Broomhead Reservoir. Millstones Wood occupies the horizon to the left of the signpost.

A common or English bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta), the native bluebell of the British Isles. The English bluebell is threatened by hybridisation on a large scale with the non-native Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica).

Millstones Wood, lying one buttercup-filled field away.

Young master oak - probably an English oak (Quercus robur).

A shaggy-looking European larch (Larix decidua).

The floor of the wood was covered with these: the fallen male catkins of European beech (Fagus sylvatica).

Two catkins still on the tree, along with a developing cupule holding two beechnuts.

The fierce sun beating down through the needles and branches of a pine.

Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris).


Posted in Gone for a walk





A walk in the sun (Part 1): over Whitwell Moor

Last Monday (the 1st of June), in the middle of a period of brilliant weather, I went for a walk up Whitwell Moor, down into Ewden, through Millstones Wood, then back down Whitwell Moor. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, the trees were rustling…and I enjoyed every minute!

The branches of an ash (Fraxinus excelsior) hang low over an abundance of flowering cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris).

A cherry sapling (Prunus avium) growing amongst more cow parsley by the side of a lane.

The view to the west across Whitwell Moor from the Set C(r) parent rowan (right). The lush ground cover in the foreground is bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus).

Looking across the Moor - studded with naturally regenerating birch – to Emley Moor Mast. The mast is a Grade II Listed Building and the tallest freestanding structure in the UK at 330.4 metres. It may look as if it stands on top of the hill in the photograph but it is actually much further away, standing roughly ten miles distant.

Male Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) flowers.

English oak (Quercus robur) leaves in the sun.

Standing amidst the heather and bilberry, Whitwell Moor’s most iconic oak: the Lonely Oak (also an English or pedunculate oak).

A developing European larch (Larix decidua) cone. Remember all those photos of larch roses on treeblog in March? This is what they have grown into!


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The 36th edition of the Festival of the Trees is up at Roundrock Journal - go check it out.


Posted in Gone for a walk





Photos from a brief walk (even more goat willow, larch and alder)

Friday was another of summer’s outriders – a beautiful blue sky and warm enough for shorts and t-shirts, even in the wind on top of a hill. I fitted in a little trip to those goat willows I have under observation (my third in a fortnight) before heading off for the first barbeque of the year, on a sixth floor balcony no less. I took plenty of photos of larch roses on the way, but there has already been plenty of those on treeblog recently. In comparison, the male flowers have been underrepresented on these pages, so let’s start off with some.

A line of male European larch (Larix decidua) flowers. They look like tiny little birds’ nests or baskets full of tiny little eggs to me.

And on the same tree, brand new needles are emerging from a particularly knobbly bit of branch.

The Lonely Oak. Seen from ‘behind’, it doesn’t appear anywhere near as iconic (or lonely) as it does in the classic view.

The eastern Salter Hill, whose summit is home to the ruins of a WWII-era enemy plane spotting post. The branches hanging overhead belong to an ash tree (Fraxinus excelsior). I haven’t seen any ashes showing signs of flushing so far this spring, but they always are one of the later ones to come into leaf.

Three female goat willow (Salix caprea) catkins…

…and a pair of male goat willow catkins in different stages of flowering. At the moment, the male goat willows closer to Sheffield appear pale yellow from a distance because they are already covered with catkins at the same stage as the one on the left above. However, the males in this particular group, halfway up the Ewden valley, still have most of their catkins at the same stage as the one on the right above: this isn’t the right word, but they aren’t quite ripe yet. There are exceptions though, as evidenced by the above photograph. How far those stamens extend!

By the way, I tried the experiment I proposed in the previous post (If the bark is stripped from a two-year [grey willow] shoot, it reveals fine ridges absent in S. caprea). The result: no fine ridges. The conclusion: these really are goat willows and not grey willows.

Incidentally, I had a sniff of the debarked twigs and they smelled a lot like a freshly cut tomato does. I know that willows contain a lot of salicylic acid. Was this what I could smell? Does this mean that tomatoes contain a lot of salicylic acid too? A quick Google gave several faux health sites stating that they do.

Female common alder (Alnus glutinosa) flowers (and to the right, some of the male flowers). These will ripen into the little woody cones that are one of the alder’s distinguishing features: they are retained throughout the winter, and the old cones are very prominent on leafless alders.

A big ash. Backed up by old maps, I believe that a century or so ago this area would have been fields, probably rough grassland type. In time they were left to go wild, as you can see, with birch and goat willow and alder and bracken (among others) successionally muscling in. The 1894 map has tree symbols along the field boundaries. Are these supposed to symbolise hedgerows or individual large trees? This ash is one of the largest trees here today, but is it old enough to have been one of those large individuals a century ago? I digress. There is an old hawthorn standing right next to the ash (obscured in the above photo) that is split open and all charred inside. I reckon it must have been struck by a bolt of lightning that also damaged the ash, which has had much of the bark at its base removed. Both trees are still alive and new growth is starting to close over the wounds.


Posted in Gone for a walk





Goat willow and larch roses: a reprise

Sunday was an incredible day. The sky was an amazing blue, a shade darker than the hazier skies of Friday and Saturday the weekend before. The air was cooler, but summer lies ever closer. Another treeblog photographs-from-a-walk post begins.

In the saddle of Salter Hills – westwards along Heads Lane from the village of Bolsterstone - two Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris). From the Bolsterstone Extension Draft Conservation Area Appraisal 1:

Bolsterstone lies close to the main salt route between Cheshire and Yorkshire, and names such as Salter Hills, Salt Springs Farm and Salt Springs Cottage at the western end of Heads Lane… suggest that the lane may have been on a southern branch of the main saltway (Hey, 2001 2).

Clothing the southern flank of the western Salter hill, remnants of a wood planted between 1855 and 1893. Today it consists of nowt but Scots pine and European larch, tree-wise.

A week previous I wasn’t so sure. Now I am almost certain: these catkins belong to goat willow (Salix caprea) a.k.a. pussy willow a.k.a. sallow. In a week or so, these male catkins will have extended their stamens to become big, yellow pollen-deployers. [Update: Ahem. They would have if they were male, but I now think they are female catkins.] Notice the densely shrubby form in the background.

I have just learned that all willow species are dioecious – trees are either male or female, not both. The catkins of this particular goat willow are not quite flowering yet.

This catkin is slightly more advanced that its brethren. The yellow pollen-containing anthers are clearly visible.

Caveat lector! - From my Collins Field Guide Trees of Britain & Northern Europe by Alan Mitchell (1978):

The native sallows are a complex group, and several species, subspecies and hybrids occur, most of which pass as Pussy Willow when in flower. All except [grey willow (Salix cinerea) ] are strictly shrubs… S. caprea is distinct from the other tree willows in its rather thick, often short and knobbly shoots and upright shrubby growth. In the Highlands of Scotland many are [20 metres tall with a girth at five feet of 2 metres].

From the same book, an experiment that may be worth a try: “If the bark is stripped from a two-year [grey willow] shoot, it reveals fine ridges absent in S. caprea”. Leaves should help too.

A lovely female larch flower...

…and another two…

…and another. Guess what? I really like these. I hesitated before to say with certainty that these are European larch (Larix decidua) flowers, but I’ll hesitate no more: these are European larch flowers! I’m not afraid that these trees are Japanese larch (Larix kaempferi); I’ve seen cones and their scales don’t curl sharply outwards! And I’ve realised that if the bit of wood these larches belong to was planted no later than 1893 (for having walked circularly we have returned to that bit aforementioned), it is extremely unlikely that these larches are Dunkeld larches (Larix x eurolepis) for that hybrid wasn’t first selected until 1904!

Déjà vu then? This post is a cheeky reprise of last Wednesday’s Summer’s outrider: flowers & buds & catkins & trees. Another clear blue sky; those same two pines and that same bit of woodland; goat willow catkins; larch flowers… Obviously much of this walk shared the same route as much of the other. I wanted to see those willows again, wanted to see if they really were goat willows, inspired by some goat willows in full yellow-catkinned bloom I’d spied through a bus window two days earlier. And I wanted to take more photographs of larch flowers.

Remember the post-Set A unknown seedling? The one that was neither alder nor birch, but induced a “gut feeling of willow”? Could it be a goat willow? Its buds bear a strong resemblance…


References
1 The Bolsterstone Extension Draft Conservation Area Appraisal, published in February 2009 by the Peak District National Park Authority, is available from: http://www.peakdistrict.org/draftbolsterstone-conservation-area-appraisal.pdf (PDF, 3.59 MB).
2 Packmen, Carriers and Packhorse Roads: Trade and Communications in North Derbyshire and South Yorkshire by David Hey (2001). Landmark Publishing Ltd. All editions seem to be out of print.


Posted in Gone for a walk





Summer's outrider: flowers & buds & catkins & trees

Male catkins swinging from a common alder (Alnus glutinosa) at Owler Carrs.

Yes, Friday and Saturday were real stunners. It seemed as though summer was already upon us, even though the trees were still bare. Signs of spring were all about. Catkins still dangled from alders in droves, although most hazel catkins are now past their best; and immature catkins – probably male - were protruding stiffly from the ends of birch twigs. Sycamores (Acer pseudoplatanus) are on the verge of flushing, and I saw evidence that rowans and birches are to soon follow suit. A single larch was already sprouting bright green needles; other larches, while not yet flushing, bristled with small but beautiful flowers.

The photographs in this post were all taken on Saturday in the Ewden Valley as I walked down one side and up the other – then later on back the same way.

Two pines at the bottom of a hill. I’ve seen old maps from 1893, 1903, and 1905 that show this patch was then within the bounds of a coniferous wood. A map from 1855 shows the wood not yet in existence, and a “revision of 1929 with additions in 1938 & 1948” map shows the wood to have been much reduced in size. The wood survives today in a further reduced state, mainly to the left of this shot…

...here: a very open wood consisting primarily of stunted pines and larches. I wonder if the wood was planted as a means of sheltering Whitwell Moor, lying to the north, which in those days was grouse shooting territory.

A cluster of willowy trees growing around a spring. Are they willows? Dunno. I currently have little confidence identifying willows, but I want to change that. For the present… are these developing goat willow (a.k.a. pussy willow a.k.a. sallow - Salix caprea) catkins? Any help in the comments would be greatly appreciated!

More male common alder catkins. On the twigs just above where the male catkins are attached, immature, dark purpley-brown female ‘cones’ (technically catkins) are developing. My apologies for their being out of focus in this photo.

An unfurling rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) leaf. It’ll be up and photosynthesising in no time at all, sir.

Here are a couple of past-their-best, dead-looking male hazel (Corylus avellana) catkins. It feels as if treeblog has gone a bit crazy on the alder and hazel catkins lately. That’s a good thing.

So, you’ve seen the male parts of a hazel. In the interests of balance, how about a peek at the female parts? I’ve noticed that there are barely any of these female flowers on each plant, and I’ve read that hazel’s fertility in many parts of Britain is already compromised by grey squirrels eating the hazelnuts that these flowers develop into. It’s a wonder there are any new hazels growing at all.

Aaaah, larch flowers (probably European larch, Larix decidua). The above photo shows a bird’s nest-like male flower (left) and a beautiful, rose-like female flower (right). On the subject of L. decidua flowers, Forestry Commission Booklet No. 15, Know Your Conifers, by Herbert L. Edlin (published by HMSO in 1970) has this to say:

The male flowers, borne in spring just as the delicate needles open, are clusters of golden anthers. The female flowers, often called “larch roses”, are pretty flower-like clusters of scales, and may be green, white, or deep pink in colour. They ripen within one year to rather cylindrical cones. These cones only slowly expand their scales, and when the forester wishes to extract larch seed he has to break them apart.

And back to where it all began. The two pines from this post’s second photo join the background of this late afternoon sun-bathed pine scene.

This post lives on in March 31st's Goat willow and larch roses: a reprise.


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Set C update – Day 14 (today): No sign of germination yet.


Posted in Gone for a walk





A walk in the snow (2nd February 2009): Part Two

Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) to the left of me, European larch (Larix decidua) to the right...

A row of most snowy beeches (Fagus sylvatica).

In the heart of Millstones Wood...

Out in the fields, the snow was drifting behind the walls. Walking along a footpath hidden beneath this drift, I was ploughing through waist-high snow in places. It was either that or slide down a gorse-covered hill! The wind blowing through the gaps in the dry stone wall was sculpting fantastic shapes – this and the next photograph have been altered to highlight these.

More snow-sculpture. The oft-mentioned Millstones Wood can be seen in the left half of the background.

Near Ewden Height, and the snow was coming thick and fast. The bush in the foreground is gorse (Ulex europaeus) – a.k.a. whin or furze.

Millstones Wood again. Beech, beech, and more beech.


Posted in Gone for a walk





A walk in the snow (2nd February 2009): Part One

Everything was white.

It snowed pretty heavily Sunday night and most of Monday up here - probably the biggest snowfall in our local area in seven or eight years. It put down a good six or seven inches in our garden; the roads were covered; the treeblog trees were covered; the roofs and lawns and trees and bushes were covered; the hillside was covered. Everything was white. So as a dedicated lover of snow, while the rest of the UK was plunged into chaos (according to the tabloid press), I strapped myself into snow-proof attire and headed for the countryside...

My first port of call: the ‘first wood’ on Whitwell Moor. The trees prominent in the foreground are Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris), but this part of the wood also contains plenty of beech (Fagus sylvatica), English oak (Quercus robur), and larch (Larix decidua).

This split English oak on the edge of the wood featured heavily in a mid-January treeblog post on galls.

Snowy holly (Ilex aquifolium) leaves – those Christmas card favourites.

Hello! It’s the Lonely Oak, last seen with a bit on snow on treeblog in January 2008.

Snow-packed Scots pine needles.

A pair of heavily snow-laden beeches in Millstones Wood, a veritable winter wonderland.

The view south-west from the southern edge of Millstones. Ewden Beck courses through the wooded valley, which splits Broomhead Moor on the left from Upper Commons on the right.

It didn’t snow on Tuesday or Wednesday, so the roads cleared up. But we got another inch or so on Thursday morning. It’s Friday afternoon as I write this and there has been no fresh snow today. The roads are clear, but the gardens and pavements are still covered. To be continued...


Posted in Gone for a walk





Bark rubbing

So I went for a walk this afternoon armed with sheets of plain white paper and a blue wax crayon, and I did six bark rubbings. Over moor and under wood, it was a cold day with a clear sky. The temperature must have been close to zero as ice lingered on puddles and the ground was frozen at the top of the hill.

The bark rubbings were taken at about breast to head height on main trunks. The approximate DBH (diameter at breast height) of each tree is noted below each rubbing so as to give an idea of size and age.

Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris). DBH ~ 1.5 ft.

Pedunculate or English oak (Quercus robur). DBH ~ 1 ft.

European larch (Larix decidua). DBH ~ 1.5 ft.

European beech (Fagus sylvatica). DBH ~ 2 ft.

Birch (Betula) – probably downy (pubescens), maybe silver (pendula). DBH ~ 0.5 ft.

Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia). DBH ~ 1 ft.


Posted in Miscellany





1939 larch plantation in Aberfoyle

Yesterday morning one of my uni classes, Woodland Management, had a wee field trip to Aberfoyle in southeast Perthshire. We set off from Edinburgh at eight in the morning and arrived at the David Marshall Lodge about an hour and half later. The Lodge is a visitor centre for the Forestry Commission's Queen Elizabeth Forest Park. We met up with a man from Forest Research and learned a little about timber extraction whilst maintaining continuous forest cover (as opposed to clearfelling). It was decided to adopt this more aesthetically pleasing management strategy in the part of the forest we visited due to its high visibility within the local landscape. Experimental plots were set up in 1998 with an aim to determine the best way to maintain continous cover forestry using natural regeneration.

The area designated for continous cover forestry was a European larch (Larix decidua) plantation planted in 1939. With a crisp autumn day as a backdrop, it was beautiful.

larch plantation near Aberfoyle

Lovely, lovely larch.

larch and pine (overstorey) and sitka spruce (understorey)

Larch (yellow needles) and a pine species (green needles) in the overstory. Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) in the understorey.

larch trunk with '39' painted on

I'm not sure of the meaning of this number, but I don't think it is the year of planting as other trees in the same area had totally different numbers. 1939 and 39 must just be a coincidence.


Posted in Holidays and field trips





Field trip to the Italian Alps (Part 2)

rockslide in the Dolomites

A rockslide in the beautiful Dolomites. (16th August)

dwarf pine (pinus mugo)

Dwarf pine (Pinus mugo). Might be making an appearance in the treeblog nursery next year... (16th August)

seasoning resonance wood

‘Resonance wood’ from the Paneveggio Forest, stored to season. The wood has special acoustical properties, making it desirable for the production of musical instruments (mainly violins). Of the 6000 cubic metres of wood felled in the Forest each year, only 0.5% is selected as resonance wood. The wood has very narrow growth rings, coming from trees grown in an optimal and unchanging mountain climate. Other qualities include low specific weight, good elasticity, dimensional stability, and a good ratio of resistance to weight. (18th August)

extracted timber

Timber extracted from the Paneveggio Forest. (18th August)

Norway spruce needles suffering from a fungal infection

Norway spruce (Picea abies) needles suffering from a fungal infection. (18th August)

larch in the mist

Lovely, lovely larch (Larix decidua) in the mist. (21st August)

air, rock, wood, water

I was blown away by this view. So stunning, almost surreal! The lake is called Lago di Calaita (Lake Calaita) but I don't know the name of the mountain. (24th August)

stone building and forest

I took this at a goat farm. The farmer told an inspirational tale about how it had taken him and his wife 10 years to get the farm going properly in the face of fierce resistance from the local population and powers-that-be who believed the smell of the farm would impact negatively on tourism. We watched the goats being milked, then bought a couple of bottles and drank it while it was still warm from the udder. The farm didn't even have much of a smell! (24th August)

spider on bark

A biggie! (25th August)


Posted in Holidays and field trips





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