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The Lonely Oak
Posted on February 1, 2011 by Ash
Welcome to the Fifty-Sixth Edition of the Festival of the Trees! You’ve come here because we share a common interest in trees, you and I. Yet how we each think of trees – how we see them – is something unique to us as individuals.
Poetry & stories
There are two poems to Festival 56. In his poem Fall at Highbanks, Steve Meador evokes pleasant autumnal scenes. Conversely, the protagonist in Charlie Hughes’ poem Ash to Ash sees only death in the fall as all around his workshop trees are ravaged by the emerald ash borer.
Conservation & environmental science
Tracy McVeigh, writing in the The Observer, tells of a new and disturbing twist in the ongoing story of sudden oak death. When the disease arrived in the UK a decade ago, scientists feared devastation amongst our native oak population (a different strain has killed millions of oaks in California). Thankfully the outbreak never lived up to the hype, but last year the disease began to rapidly infect and kill larch trees – now the race is on to stop it.
Enjoyment & learning
Rebecca of A Year With the Trees tells how she patiently learnt to identify the black cherry in winter, starting with the beautiful flowers that blossom in the springtime. Meanwhile, Laura has been hunting the black poplar. She has written a fine article regarding the tree at Patiopatch that takes in a visit to a solitary specimen in London’s Russell Square. A native of Britain and Ireland, the black poplar is also one of our rarest trees and the remaining population is sadly threatened by interbreeding with imported poplar species.
Only one! At Writings from Wild Soul, Wrensong tells how she has been thinking of the trees, ‘listening down into the roots, into the winter dreams of the Rooted Ones, remembering dreams of the Great Tree, the One Tree…’
Jasmine of Natures Whispers, inspired by contributions to the previous Festival of the Trees (hosted by Jasmine), has ‘wrapped’ some of the trees in her back garden – ‘It will be interesting to see how the passing seasons will decorate these cottons.’ In a separate post (which includes a link to some impressive ‘tree shaping’ art), Jasmine tells of how one submission regarding a collaborative project to construct a willow yurt has sent her imagination running wild!
* * * * *
There we go. Thank-you for visiting – I hope you’ve found something of interest to you here. I’d also like to thank all who contributed to this edition of the Festival of the Trees, and I thank Dave, Pablo and Jade for allowing me to host the Festival for a third time.
Posted on December 10, 2010 by Ash
When the Sun goes down the trees turn black.
The Lonely Oak.
Posted on November 28, 2010 by Ash
I love this pine tree. It’s got a great shape, it’s in a great position, and it’s got a great friend…
It snowed a bit on Friday night. Only a centimetre or two settled but it was enough to bring a real feeling of winter to my walk up to the trig point.
Silhouette: European beech (Fagus sylvatica).
Silhouette: Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris).
Silhouette: downy birch (Betula pubescens) (and a Scots pine).
Silhouette: the Lonely Oak. I arrived with perfect timing to see the sun setting behind my favourite oak tree.
And just over the hill, I arrived in the nick of time to catch my favourite pair of Scots pines basking in the last of the golden sunlight.
Silhouette: Scots pine skeleton (or possibly a larch skeleton).
Posted on March 23, 2010 by Ash
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 on February 5, 2010 by Ash
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.
Posted on January 6, 2010 by Ash
A snowy scene in Lower Whitwell Wood, looking west across Whitwell Moor to distant Millstones Wood.
It’s been snowing a lot lately. In fact, the last couple of weeks have made 2009/2010 the snowiest winter in these parts since 1981/1982. I went for a walk on Saturday afternoon when there was still plenty of snow around up on the tops. It snowed a lot Saturday evening, and I went for another walk Sunday afternoon on which I took these photos. Then yesterday the weather went beserk and it put down, on average, nine inches of snow around the house. And more snow is forecast! It’s brilliant!
A pair of reasonably lonely oaks not far from an even lonelier one.
This bleak and snowy scene may not have much in the way of trees, but I’ve included it here as it’s the view to the south-east from…
…the Lonely Oak. (There are now eleven different photos of the Lonely Oak on treeblog’s Flickr.)
There were a fair few tracks around the Lonely One. The two tracks in the bottom left part of the photo were made by one or more rabbits or hares, (likeliest to be rabbit, I’d say). From the book Animal Tracks and Signs by Bang and Dahlstøm (2001): Each of the regular print groups is made up of four separate footprints, at the back the two short fore prints, one behind the other almost in a line, and at the front the two hind prints, more side by side and usually longer than the fore prints. So the furthest-left track was made by a rabbit/hare heading towards the camera; the track to the right of it was made by a rabbit/hare heading away from the camera. The track with the funny lines coming out of the bottom right corner is probably from a little dog; the lines would have been made by paws skimming the top of the snow.
There were tiny icicles dangling from the Lonely Oak (an English oak, Quercus robur). Is that a gall I spy in the background?
The Trig Point atop the western Salter Hill.
A lovely pair of Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris). They appeared in a couple of posts last March when summer was near and snow wasn’t on my mind.
This would be the view from the top o’ the hill, looking south-west towards the darkly wooded upper Ewden Valley and Pike Lowe (on the horizon, slightly right of centre). Snowtastic.
A snowy cluster of mushrooms. This photo was taken on my Saturday walk, but I’ll sneak it in here. I love those gills.
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Posted on November 20, 2009 by Ash
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?
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 on July 20, 2009 by Ash
I went out on the moors on Saturday with the intention of making Pike Lowe, and, if I had the time, of finding the mythical waterfall far up the Ewden Beck...
First checkpoint: the Lonely Oak of Whitwell Moor.
It doesn’t appear to be doing too well, our Lonely one. Most of its leaves are crinkled and ragged-looking, whereas the rest of the oaks I saw on my ramble were all healthy. So it’s not a weather thing. I couldn’t find a single developing acorn on any of the oaks, which is disappointing as I was thinking of planting some for treeblog Set D. The red balls on the leaf in the photo are galls.
A Jew’s ear (Auricularia auricular-judae) –like fungus growing on a dead branch attached to a living English oak (Quercus robur) in Millstones Wood.
Also in Millstones Wood, a beast of a beech (Fagus sylvatica). This looks like an old coppice to me. There may not be any acorns this year, but there’s no shortage of beechnuts: the floor was covered with cupules!
Leaving the wood behind, I was confronted with a field full of near fully grown cattle. I had to pass within a metre of these two, but they seemed completely indifferent to my presence. I was glad to avoid a trampling! Broomhead Hall Farm can be seen across the valley in the background.
Developing hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) fruit, or haws. The hawthorns hereabouts were in full flower at the end of May / beginning of June.
Looking back across the moors to Millstones Wood from near the summit of Pike Lowe, just over an hours walk away!
The cairn on the summit of Pike Lowe (OS grid. ref. SK 208 974 or 53.4726° N, 1.6865° W), 476 metres above sea level. So close to civilisation, yet so isolated.
Posted on June 7, 2009 by Ash
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!
Posted on April 7, 2009 by Ash
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.
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 on February 6, 2009 by Ash
Everything was white.
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 on December 3, 2008 by Ash
Last Friday afternoon I went for a walk around Whitwell Moor. As well as making some bark rubbings, I took some photographs of the winter scenery.
Birch tree on silhouetted against the winter sun.
A common ash (Fraxinus excelsior) sapling on Long Lane seen with leaves on the 5th of October and without on the 28th of November (Friday). Pretty cool, huh?
A small stand of birch silhouetted by the afternoon sun.
More silhouetting! A Scots pine surrounded by other trees: birches, larches, and more pines.
A frosty beech leaf blown out of Millstones Wood.
The Lonely Oak on Whitwell Moor at twilight. This post from January has a contemporary photo of the Lonely Oak with links to three other photos from spring and summer 2007.
Posted on January 7, 2008 by Ash
Snow on Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris).
A snowy boggy patch in a small wood. Birch and Scots pine in the background.
A snowy woodland scene in Millstones Wood. Snow and stone and tree.
This broken larch (Larix) branch looks like old news nowadays. There's even a patch of fungus visible at the back. But back on the 4th of April 2007 it was all fresh and glorious!
A generous portion of larch twigs, delicately powdered with snow.
A picturesque snow-covered European beech (Fagus sylvatica) in Millstones Wood.
A serene scene. Wintry beauty in the woods.
Posted on March 29, 2007 by Ash
These oak leaves have doggedly remained on the tree all winter, but for how much longer can they hang on? It seems that oak and beech are always the last to lose their leaves.
This tree is alone amongst the heather and bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) on the hilltop, and thus is especially exposed to the elements. Hence its diminutive stature. Species? Probably a silver or downy birch. [Update (August 2007): This is actually an oak.]
This poor beech tree was saved from a certain flooring by its unfortunate neighbour. It looks like the ground become too waterlogged and unstable to support the weight of a full tree (happens a lot in this wood). However, I bet that the tree is still alive and well.
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