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Set C

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treeblog update: the Set C(r) rowans (May 2012)

I’ve left it a stupidly long time since the last one, but here’s the latest update on all thirteen Set C(r) rowans (excluding the tricots, which I haven’t shown on treeblog in an even looonger time, but which will make an appearance soon). I took the photos on Tuesday – Day 1113 – just over three years since I planted the rowans as seeds. The last update was in May of last year on Day 720.

There are four ‘U’s, which are the offspring of a tree that grew near Upper Midhope, and nine ‘W’s. which are the offpring of a tree that still grows on Whitwell Moor. On the whole, the Ws are doing far better, but the tallest Set C(r) rowan is a U.

U2 – Tiny. Along with U7, this seedling has the same mildew-type affliction that affected the majority of the Set C(r) rowans last year.

U5 – healthy but tiny.

U7 – tiny and suffering from the mildew-type disease.

U14 – the tallest tree in the set, measuring a whopping 67 cm tall.

W2 – another tall one.

W6 – kind of average.

W7 – I think the the two little branches sprouting from near the base have died.

W11 – another tall one, with a suppressed second stem.

W12 – a little smaller than average.

W15 – pleasing to look at.

W17 – has the leafiest stem.

W18 – kind of average.

W19 – doesn’t look very sturdy, and one tiny branch has a bit of that mildewy stuff, but otherwise looks healthy.


* * * * *

I also measured the heights of all thirteen rowans. They are ranked in descending order in the table below:

Tree Height (cm)
May 2012
U14 67
W2 61
W11 60
W17 53
W7 42
W15 42
W6 39
W18 37
W19 36
W12 33
U7 13
U2 11
U5 10

Posted in The treeblog trees





treeblog update: the Set C downy birches (May 2012)

Here’s a quick update on the progress of the Set C downy birches. I took the photographs this evening (Day 1160). All twelve trees are looking healthy and they’ve all come nicely into leaf.

No. 1.

No. 2.

No. 4.

No. 5.

No. 10.

No. 14.

No. 15.

No. 21.

No. 22.

No. 23.

No. 25.

No. 27.

I didn’t measure the trees this time around because they’ve not really started this year’s growth yet. To see how they looked in November, and to see a list of all their heights then, check out the last Set C downy birch update.


Posted in The treeblog trees





treeblog update: the Set C downy birches (November 2011)

Downy birch No. 1: too branchy!

This is the first update of the Set C downy birches (Betula pubescens) since May! There are now twelve Set C birches altogether: Nos. 1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 14, 15, 21, 22, 23, 25 & 27; No. 13 has unluckily died since May. I took the photos this afternoon – 970 days or 2 years & 8 months since I planted them all as seeds.

Downy birch No. 2: lovely form and the tallest of the lot at 47 cm.

No. 4: almost-straight stem (apart from that one kink).

No. 5: the second shortest at 22 cm tall.

No. 10: super-straight stem.

No. 14: average.

No. 15: nice, straight stem and the second tallest at 43 cm.

No. 21: doesn’t want to let go of those leaves.

No. 22: nice, straight stem with a strangely disproportionate branch.

No. 23: decent stem above the kink.

No. 25: the runt of the litter; very poor form and by far the shortest at 6 cm tall.

No. 27 – good stem.


* * * * *

The table below displays the approximate heights of all twelve surviving downy birches ranked in descending order. The measurements were made last Sunday – the 30th of October.

Birch No. Height (cm)
Oct 30, 2011
2 47
15 43
4 41
10 38
21 32
22 32
1 27
14 24
27 24
23 23
5 22
25 6


* * * * *

The Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees initiative

The Nature Conservancy is raising money to restore a million acres of the Atlantic Forest in Brazil by planting a billion trees by 2015. The initiative is very close to passing the 10 million mark. If you’d like to make a donation, one dollar will see one tree planted. To find out more and donate, visit plantabillion.org


Posted in The treeblog trees





treeblog update: the Set C(r) rowans (Day 720)

’Upper Midhope’ rowans No. 2 (approx. 11 cm tall) & No. 5 (the shortest of the set at 7 cm).

It’s been a looong time since the Set C(r) rowans featured in a treeblog update. Since that time, the size of the set has been significantly reduced by the loss of identifying flags (read about it in the census). Here are the current lot, before I beef up the numbers by dipping into the reserves.

All of the rowans are suffering from some kind of disease – mildew? – to a varying extent, which has formed a white powder on their leaves. The two rowans in the photo above have it the worst (U2 & U5). W2 & W18 are also badly affected. So far it doesn’t appear to be having much of an impact on the overall health of the seedlings.

These photos were taken on the 2nd of May (Day 720); the height measurements were taken today (Day 738).

’Upper Midhope’ rowan No. 7 (12 cm).

’Upper Midhope’ rowan No. 14 (51 cm) & ‘Whitwell Moor’ rowan No. 2 (44 cm).

‘Whitwell Moor’ rowans No. 6 (33 cm) & No. 7 (36 cm).

‘Whitwell Moor’ rowans No. 11 (the tallest of the set at 52 cm) & No. 12 (26 cm – has had its top bitten off since this photo was taken).

‘Whitwell Moor’ rowans No. 15 (37 cm) & No. 17 (46 cm).

‘Whitwell Moor’ rowans No. 18 (34 cm) & No. 19 (22 cm).


* * * * *

Sometime last week downy birch No. 13 from Set C was uprooted, probably by one of the grey squirrels that frequent our garden. I’m pretty sure it’s a goner.


Posted in The treeblog trees





treeblog update: the Set C downy birches (Part Two)

Downy birch No. 21.

This post continues from Part One, which featured the other eight downy birches. All photos were taken on Monday (May 2nd) (Day 782).

Downy birch No. 22 – forking?

Downy birch No. 23 – very small.

Downy birch No. 25 – not looking good at all. Last August it had two main stems, but one has died and fallen off.

Downy birch No. 27.

The next two trees – Nos. 16 & 30 – are, I believe, dead. A couple of weeks ago when I carried out the treeblog census I hoped that they were just late flushing, as the buds looked to be OK – but I was mistaken. I don’t think they made it through the winter. Set C is down to thirteen downy birches.

Downy birch No. 16 – funnily enough, I thought this one had died last year (winter 2009/2010) but I turned out to be wrong. I hope I’m wrong for a second time!

Downy birch No. 30, deceased.


Posted in The treeblog trees





treeblog update: the Set C downy birches (Part One)

Downy birch No. 1 – looking grand!

Here we go with the first look at the Set C downy birches since mid-August 2010 (Day 522). In this two-part treeblog update you can see for yourself how well each of the wee fellas are getting on. Thirteen remain alive – and two are recently deceased. I took the photos on Monday (May 2nd), 782 days after I planted them all as seeds. As you can see, some are doing better than others…

Downy birch No. 2.

Downy birch No. 4.

Downy birch No. 5 – very small.

Downy birch No. 10.

Downy birch No. 13.

Downy birch No. 14.

Downy birch No. 15 – it’s put on a lot of new growth already this spring!


* * * * *

The rest of the downy birches will follow in Part Two (to be posted on Saturday.) This post and the next one are ‘pre-written’ and will ‘upload automatically’ because I’m off to France for a week – so I won’t be able to respond to emails or moderate comments until the 10th!


Posted in The treeblog trees





treeblog census: April 2011

I’m afraid I have been rather lax of late in sticking to this blog’s original purpose of charting the development of the treeblog trees. There have been some pretty important developments over the winter, yet I’ve hardly mentioned a thing. I badly needed to turn over a new leaf, so I have carried out a full census of the trees to provide a snapshot overview of the treeblog population as it is today. It may send you to sleep. Here goes :

Set A
Set A was planted on the 28th of March 2007 (1,480 days ago)

The two Scots pines (Alpha & Gamma) are alive and well. They last appeared in an update in June. (Nearly a whole year ago?? Can that be right??)

Of the four grey alders, No. 4 is now dead but Nos. 1, 2 & 3 were alive the last time I saw them (I last visited Nos. 1 & 4 on the 12th of March and Nos. 2 & 3 on the 12th of February). They last appeared in an update last month.

In the last cider gum update (in May 2010!!), Nos. 1 & 15 were reported dead, but Nos. 2 – 14 were all alive. Alas, after the very harsh winter of 2010/2011, only one cider gum now remains alive: No. 14. Terrible news!

post-Set A willow

The PSAUS is alive and coming nicely into leaf.

Set C
Set C was planted on the 11th of March 2009 (766 days ago)

Fifteen of the downy birches are alive and coming into leaf: Nos. 1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 13, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 25, 27 & 30. Since the last update in August, No. 28 has gone missing from its pot (possibly squirrel-related).

Set C(r)
Set C(r) was planted/replanted on the 12th of May 2009 (704 days ago)

I’ve cocked up big-time with the Set C(r) rowans. At the end of June I planted the nineteen ‘Whitwell Moor’ seedlings (Nos. W1 – W15 & W17 – W20) and twenty ‘Upper Midhope’ seedlings (Nos. U1 – U20) out in individual pots. Each seedling was identified with a little flag made out of sellotape and a cocktail stick. Disastrously, during the winter many of the cocktails sticks have rotted through and these flags have blown away. Which means I have a large number of seedlings that could have come from either the Whitwell Moor rowan or the Upper Midhope rowan. Which kind of defeats the object. I think these identity-less rowans will have to be released from under the treeblog umbrella. The remaining identifiable Set C(r) rowans are Nos. W2, W6, W7, W11, W12, W14, W15, W17, W18, W19, U2, U5, U7 & U14: ten Whitwell Moors and four Upper Midhopes. Doh! I think the Upper Midhope population will have to be topped up from the reserves still in the seed tray.

Also - the five Whitwell Moor tricot rowans (Nos. WT1 – WT5) are all alive, but they are still in the plug tray. They need putting in pots.

The Whitwell Moor rowans last appeared in an update in September; the Upper Midhope rowans appeared in a separate update at the same time. The tricots haven’t appeared in an update since May!

Set D(b)
Set D(b) was planted on the 30th of September 2009 (563 days ago)

Both the single normal beech and the single cut- or fern-leaved beech remain alive and well. They last appeared in an update in June.

Set D(r)
Set D(r) was planted/replanted on the 11th of April 2010 (371 days ago)

In the last update in May, there were nine Oaken Clough rowan seedlings (O1 – O9) and seven Whitwell Moor rowan seedlings (W1 – W7). Today all nine Oaken Clough seedlings are alive, but two of the Whitwell Moor seedlings have died (W3 & W4). There are plenty of reserves still in the seed trays, so these populations can be topped up.


* * * * *

OK… I think I’ve cleared all that up as best I can. Here’s a quick summary of what is currently alive and accounted for in the treeblog stables then: 3 grey alders (Alnus incana); 2 Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris); 1 cider gum (Eucalyptus gunnii); 15 downy birches (Betula pubescens); 33 rowans (Sorbus aucuparia); & 2 European beeches (Fagus sylvatica)… which gives a grand total of 56 trees spread over 6 different species. [Plus the honorary treeblog tree, the PSAUS, which is a willow - possibly a goat willow (Salix caprea).]

This number will be bumped up when I draw on the rowan reserves, but as you may have noticed I haven’t planted a Set E this year. Maybe next year? Right now I’m going to try and photograph all of these trees and bring the series of updates bang up to date. It’s about time!


Posted in The treeblog trees





treeblog update (Set C(r), Day 479): the Upper Midhope rowans

’Upper Midhope’ rowans Nos. 1 to 4.

As I said in the last post, I planted the Set C(r) Whitwell Moor rowans in individual pots at the end of June. Unfortunately I never got around to planting their peers, the Set C(r) Upper Midhope rowans, until the 30th of August – two months later. This means that the Whitwell Moor (W) rowans have a massive advantage over their Upper Midhope (U) buddies. I mean, there’s a big difference in size. But while this sucks for the U rowans, it’ll be interesting to see how quickly they catch up to the W rowans.

Photos taken on the 3rd of September – Day 479. The last treeblog update for the Set C(r) rowans was back in mid-May: Day 369.

U rowans Nos. 5 to 8.

U rowans Nos. 9 to 12.

U rowans Nos. 13 to 16.

U rowans Nos. 17 to 20.


Posted in The treeblog trees





treeblog update (Set C(r), Day 479): the Whitwell Moor rowans

’Whitwell Moor’ rowan No. 1.

I’m afraid it’s been almost four months since the Set C(r) rowans were last seen on treeblog, which is too long an absence for these fantastic seedlings. The speed with which the Whitwell Moor (W) rowans have grown since I planted them out in individual pots on the 26th of June is really quite amazing.

I took the majority of these photos a couple of Fridays ago on the 3rd of September – Day 479 – but three of the photos turned out blurry so I retook them yesterday – Day 486. Rowan No. 16 unfortunately disappeared within a few weeks of being planted out, so only nineteen WM rowans now remain in Set C(r).

W rowans Nos. 2 and 3.

W rowans Nos. 4 and 5.

W rowans Nos. 6 and 7.

W rowans Nos. 8 and 9.

W rowans Nos. 10 and 11.

W rowans Nos. 12 and 13.

W rowans Nos. 14 and 15.

W rowans Nos. 17 and 18.

W rowans Nos. 19 and 20.


Posted in The treeblog trees





treeblog update (Set C, Day 522): the downy birches (Part 2)

Downy birch No. 16.

This post continues from Sunday’s Part 1, which featured the other eight seedlings.

Downy birch No. 21.

Downy birch No. 22.

Downy birch No. 23. In the last Set C downy birch update (Day 426 – 11th May), I was in some doubt as to whether No. 23 was actually alive. In an even earlier update (Day 389 – 4th April), I really did think it had died (along with No. 16). Evidently that was not the case!

Downy birch No. 25: a near-death experience has turned it into treeblog’s only forked birch seedling.

Downy birch No. 27.

Downy birch No. 28: the shortest of the cohort at approx. 2 cm. A few dead leaves suggest the poor chap has had a brush with death.

Downy birch No. 30.


Posted in The treeblog trees





treeblog update (Set C, Day 522): the downy birches (Part 1)

Downy birch No. 1 – the tallest of the birches.

It’s been three months since the last treeblog update on the Set C downy birches. They’ve made decent progress since then. See them as they are today (522 days after I planted them as seeds) in this update and see them as they were 96 days ago in the last update on Day 426. Since then downy birch No. 12 has died. That leaves us with sixteen seedlings - Nos. 1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 13, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 25, 27, 28 and 30 – the tallest (No. 1) and shortest (No. 28) of which are about 12 cm and 2 cm tall respectively.

I repotted all the remaining downy birches this afternoon. They were long overdue; many of the seedlings had been paired together in their tiny plant pots since last year, and over the summer loads of self-seeded silver birches had sprung up in the pots. While I was at it I repotted Set A cider gum No. 3 (the Runt), which has been living in the same tiny pot since summer 2007!

Downy birch No. 2 – there was a caterpillar on the stem today, which I relocated onto a mature silver birch. The leading shoot has recently been eaten, probably by the caterpillar!

Downy birch No. 4.

Downy birch No. 5.

Some of the seedlings have tiny yellow spots on their leaves, like No. 10 below. I think these are birch rust (Melampsoridium betulinum), a fungus that causes premature defoliation. The fungi produces spores in the spring from last year’s infected leaves that over-wintered in the leaf litter; these spores infect larch needles, and later in the year the larch fungi produce different spores that infect birch leaves. According to Diagnosis of Ill-health in Trees by Strouts & Winter, “This alternation of the fungus between two unrelated host plants is the classic ‘text-book’, full life cycle of a rust fungus.”

Downy birch No. 10.

Downy birch No. 13.

Downy birch No. 14.

Downy birch No. 15.


* * * * *

That was the first eight seedlings; for the other eight you’ll have to see Part 2!


Posted in The treeblog trees





treeblog update (Set C(r), Day 369): the rowans

Whitwell Moor rowan No. 1 (W1).

Well, it’s not the most fun job in the world, but someone’s got to do it. It’s a labour of love. It’s another treeblog Set C(r) update (photos taken this afternoon – Day 369).

Happily the Set C(r) rowans (Sorbus aucuparia), last paraded before the world five weeks ago, are all healthy and vigorous. They’ve all got their first true leaf and the majority are showing off their second. Their progress is a pleasure to behold!

Rowans W2 to W5.

Rowans W6 to W9.

Rowans W10 to W13.

Rowans W14 to W17.

Rowans W18 to W20 and Upper Midhope rowan No. 2 (U2).

Rowan U1.

Rowans U3 to U6.

Rowans U7 to U10.

Rowans U11 to U14.

Rowans U15 to U18.

Rowans U19 and U20 and Whitwell Moor tricot rowans Nos. 1 and 2 (WT1 and WT2).

Rowans WT3 to WT6. The sixth tricot is still in the seed tray with all its feral brethren, awaiting transplantation.


Posted in The treeblog trees





treeblog update (Set C, Day 426): the downy birches

Downy birch No. 1 – one of the very best in class. Notice that the leaves have many lobes.

It’s been over five weeks since the last Set C downy birch update. The last we saw of our little birchy friends, they were mere matchsticks. But throw a little spring into the mix and we’ve got leaves! A wee bit of bad news and a couple of bits of good news: No. 26, alive in the last update, is now dead; No. 16, “dead” in the last update, is now alive; No. 23, “dead” in the last update, might actually be alive… or it might really be dead.

Now before we plough on with the rest of the photos (taken today, 426 days after I planted the Set C birch seeds), I heartily recommend that you take a quick look at the last update – Day 389 - so that you can really appreciate the difference a month makes. Progress may have been a little slow thus far, but once summer kicks in these bad boys should be sizzling.

No. 2 – another one of the finest performers.

Nos. 4 and 10 – both decent little seedlings.

No. 14 – another birch in the cream of the crop.

Nos. 12, 13, 15 and 21 – all sort of common or garden, nothing special, middle-of-the-road seedlings. Nothing wrong with that, right?

Nos. 22, 23, 27 and 28 – again, all Johnny Averages.

No. 30 – one of the better-off middling birches – but notice how few lobes its leaves have compared with the better performers’, like No. 1’s.

The underperformers: Nos. 5, 16 (back from the dead!), 23 (back from the dead?), and 25. New growth (or in the case of No. 23, possible new growth) has been circled.


Coming soon… updates for the Set A Scots pines and cider gums, the goat willow formerly known as PSAUS, the Set D(b) cut-leaved beech, and the Set C(r) and Set D(r) rowans – the Set C(r) rowans are looking awesome!


Posted in The treeblog trees





Set C(r) rowans transplanted. Six rowan tricots. Set D rowans planted. The fate of the Set D beeches and sweet chestnuts.

The transplanted Set C(r) rowans (Sorbus aucuparia) yesterday, minus the tricots.

Yesterday was a busy day for treeblog

1. Set C(r) rowans transplanted

(Set C(r), Day 334) I transplanted forty of the Set C(r) rowan seedlings - U1 to U20 (the progeny of the Upper Midhope rowan) and W1 to W20 (the progeny of the Whitwell Moor rowan) - from the unordered, overcrowded seed tray to a regimented ‘plug’ tray, where each seedling gets its own little space to breathe. There they all are in the photo above, happy as Larry.

The first five Upper Midhope rowan seedlings, U1 to U5, en route to the plug tray.

The plug tray as a bird would see it. May they live long and prosper.


2. Six rowan tricots

Set C(r) has produced six tricots so far! They are all progeny of the Whitwell Moor rowan. The sixth one I only discovered today, but the other five were transplanted into a plug tray just like their cohorts. I’ve labelled them as ‘WTn’, where WT stands for Whitwell Moor tricot. This is an exciting development for treeblog! I’ve previously found two tricot sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) seedlings; both died. I’ve also grown a tricot downy birch seedling (Betula pendula) in Set C; I lost it. Not a good track record then, but how can I lose with six rowan tricots?

The first five tricots, WT1 to WT5, en route to their plug tray.

A closer look at WT1…

…and WT2 and WT3 and WT4 and WT5. Marvellous.


3. Set D rowans planted

I collected more rowan berries last September, again from the Whitwell Moor tree, but also from a gigantic, ancient, collapsed rowan growing up on the moors near a tiny valley going by the name of Oaken Clough. Once I’d extracted the seeds from the berries, I pretreated them over the winter before planting them yesterday - (Set D(r), Day 0). I planned to use three different methods of pretreatment, outlined in this post from October, but I ended up only following one of the methods accurately: the easy one, where all you do is bung your seeds in a pot of soil and leave them outside over the winter.

So yesterday I gathered up all of the Set D rowan seeds to check for any germination. Sure enough, several of the seeds pretreated the easy way had germinated. I planted them into the same plug tray as the Set C(r) tricots. After a couple of casualties injured when extracting the germinated seedlings from the pretreatment plant pot, there remained nine Oaken Clough seedlings and twenty-two Whitwell Moor seedlings. I planted all of the ungerminated seeds in a couple of seed trays.

The germinated Oaken Clough seedlings, freshly removed from the pretreatment plant pot and ready for planting.


4. The fate of the Set D beeches and sweet chestnuts

(Set D(b), Day 193 / Set D(c), Day 183) I had a feeling that none of the beechnuts I planted in September or the sweet chestnuts I planted in October were going to germinate, so I went on a major rummage. I emptied fifty percent of the sweet chestnut seed trays (actually plug trays – to make room for the rowans!) and found that fully one hundred percent of the chestnuts were dead. I have yet to check the remaining half, but I am resolutely pessimistic with regards to the outcome.

I also rummaged through both of the beech seed trays – one containing standard European beech (Fagus sylvatica) nuts, the other containing cut- or fern-leaved beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Aspleniifolia’) nuts – and this is what I found:

F1: one germinating cut-leaved beech nut. Yes!!!
F2: a second germinating cut-leaved beech nut, trapped inside its rock-hard cupule. How the hell is it ever going to get out of there?
W1: how’s this for a total tragedy. Out of the all the standard beechnuts I planted, only one germinated and I bloody accidentally snapped its root off when I was looking through the seed tray. How crushingly depressing is that? I feel really, really terrible about it. What an idiotic mistake to make.

These three germinated beechnuts I planted in pots. The damaged beech will just shrivel and die; it has expended all of its energy on a root that is now not there. The cut-leaved beech trapped in the cupule will probably die from being unable to escape its prison. Now all of treeblog’s beech hopes and dreams rest on the shoulders of one cut-leaved beech. No pressure or anything.


Posted in The treeblog trees





treeblog update (Set C, Day 389): the downy birches

Grand news tree fans! Most of the Set C downy birches (Betula pubescens) have made it through the harsh winter and are now beginning to unfurl their first leaves of the year. The last time I posted a Set C birch update, in September, there were twenty-two seedlings left to follow. Today, that number is down to seventeen. Seventeen tiny birches, and you can see photos of each of them below. But first, a little bit of clarification on the current status of each seedling:

Nos. 1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 21, 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 & 30 - These are the seventeen seedlings that are alive and well today, all nicely labelled up in little plant pots, and all on display below for your inspection.
Nos. 3, 6, 7, 9, 11, 16, 17 & 23 - These eight seedlings are all dead – but just in case you are morbidly curious as to what dead one-year old downy birch seedlings look like, there are photos of most these below as well. Sick. (No. 7 died sometime between the 25th of May 2009 / Day 75 and the 14th of June 2009 / Day 95; Nos. 6 and 17 died sometime between the 9th of July 2009 / Day 120 and the 19th of September / Day 192; Nos. 3, 9, 11, 16 and 23 all died sometime between Day 192 and Day 389.)
Nos. 8, 18, 19 & 20 - As I’ve decided that treeblog will only follow the first twenty Upper Midhope and Whitwell Moor rowans in Set C(r), so I decided that treeblog would only follow the first thirty birches that had germinated in Set C. When I came to transplant the lucky thirty (marked with little flags) from the horde of anonymous seedlings in the seed tray, some of the thirty (Nos. 8, 15, 19, & 20) could no longer be distinguished from their anonymous brethren. They were… left behind.
No. 29 - When I transplanted the rest of the thirty from the seed tray to plant pots, I left No. 29 behind because it was special and I was fearful of killing it by transplanting it at such an early stage. It was special because it was a rare genetic mutant: a tricotyledonous downy birch, i.e. instead of having two cotyledons it had three. Unfortunately, while it was easy to spot as a tricot when it only had cotyledons, it wasn’t as easy to tell it apart from the rest when it grew its first real leaves. And then it too was lost in the raging horde, sometime between Day 120 and Day 192: perhaps my biggest treeblog regret. Like the other seedlings left behind in the seed tray, it may since have died. Or it could still be alive and well. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this year it will once again stand out from the horde and claim its rightful place by my side!

Now for le photos – taken on Sunday (Day 389).

Who’s this, then? It’s downy birch No. 1!

Downy birches Nos. 2 and 4.

Downy birches Nos. 5 and 10.

Downy birches Nos. 12 to 15.

Downy birches Nos. 21 and 22.

Downy birches Nos. 24 to 26 and No. 30.

Downy birches Nos. 27 and 28 - disappointingly prostrate.

And now for the dead ones. At least, they certainly have the appearance of being dead. But you never know… Maybe one or two of them will stage an unlikely comeback? Trust no-one!

Dead downy birches Nos. 3, 11, 16 and 23.

Dead downy birch No. 6.

Dead downy birch No. 9 – photographed yesterday (Day 392), a few days after its fellow cadavers. I, uh, missed it the first time around or something. The blue slug pellets should tell you two things. 1) No. 9 is exceedingly tiny; and 2) Now that winter is over, the slugs and the snails are oot and aboot again so I’m getting Vietnam flashbacks to June 2007, when the Set A seedlings where mullered by slugs. You ain’t getting your 27,000 teeth on my seedlings this time, you malevolent molluscs!


* * * * *

Set C(r) news: On Tuesday (Day 329), three new Upper Midhope rowan seedlings appeared: U3, U4 and U5. Yesterday, (Day 330), a further two Upper Midhope rowan seedlings appeared: U6 and U7. I think I’ll have to transplant the Set C(r) seedlings from the seed tray into plant pots rather soon…


Posted in The treeblog trees





A potted history of the Set C(r) rowans to date. treeblog update (Set C(r), Day 327).

Excellent news! The rowans (Sorbus aucuparia) that I planted 328 days ago are sprouting in droves! This afternoon I counted around forty seedlings growing where I planted seeds from the Whitwell Moor rowan and two seedlings growing where I planted seeds from the Upper Midhope rowan. That’s a lot of seedlings, and treeblog can really only follow so many – so I’ve picked twenty of the Whitwell Moor seedlings to follow, along with as many Upper Midhope seedlings that germinate (up to twenty). That’s still a lot of rowans, and I’ve yet to even plant the Set D rowan seeds I collected last year (which I’m going to go ahead and plant anyway to see which of the three methods of pre-treatment used worked best).

There are photos of the chosen twenty-two seedlings later in this post (taken yesterday – Day 327). But first here’s a potted history of the Set C / Set C(r) rowans, starting right from the beginning…

On the 15th of August 2008 I went to collect berries for treeblog Set C (to be planted spring 2009) from this rowan near the hamlet of Upper Midhope:

The skeletal Upper Midhope rowan, seen here on the 24th of August 2006.

But when I reached the spot where the rowan grew, it had sadly fallen over!


It must have collapsed fairly recently as, luckily for both me and the tree, there were a few clusters of ripe berries hanging in the canopy. These berries I collected, and they were last fruits this amazing tree every produced, for it was cleared away sometime between mid-February and late May 2009.

On the 26th of September 2008 I collected berries from this rowan growing on Whitwell Moor:

The Whitwell Moor rowan on the day of berry collection.

Along with some downy birch seeds and some sweet chestnuts, I planted both lots of rowan berries as treeblog Set C on the 11th of March 2009. I mistakenly planted the berries whole – but apparently you’re supposed to remove the seeds from the berries before planting.

On the day of planting. The Upper Midhope berries occupy the upper third of the top-left tray; the Whitwell Moor berries occupy the bottom-right tray.

After realising my mistake, I exhumed the berries and removed the seeds on the 10th & 11th of May 2009 - what a messy procedure! I replanted the cleaned-up seeds on the 12th of May, calling them Set C(r) (r for rowan) to distinguish them from the rest of Set C, which didn’t need replanting. [11th March 2009 = Set C Day 0 / 12th May 2009 = Set C(r) Day 0.]

The Whitwell Moor seeds after cleaning, prior to replanting.

A month later, in mid-June, several seedlings appeared in the Set C(r) seed tray, but they turned out to be self-set willows, not rowans. (Some of the willows are now dead; the rest I tried to kill by ‘coppicing’ them so that they wouldn’t compete with any future-sprouting rowans - I couldn’t just pull them up because their roots were so extensive I’d have messed up the whole seed tray. Of course, these tiny willow stumps survived and are now budding up!)

So no rowans germinated in 2009, but the long wait has turned out to have been well worth it! Just look at these bad boys (notice how some of the seedlings still have their seed coat attached):

The two Upper Midhope seedlings (designated by ‘U’): U1 & U2.

…And the twenty Whitwell Moor seedlings (designated by ‘W’):

W1 to W5.

W6 to W10.

W11 to W15.

W16 to W20.

Fantastic!


Posted in The treeblog trees





treeblog update (Set A, Day 1102): cider gums. Set C(r) rowans are sprouting!

On parade today are all fifteen Set A cider gums, lined up and ready to be inspected for the first time since August! These poor young eucalypts have been ravaged by the harshest winter for many a year, and it looks as though six of our comrades have fallen (and most of the survivors have frost-damaged tips) – yet there may be still be hope. The previous winter (2008-2009) looked to have dealt fatal blows to cider gums Nos. 3 and 15, but they somehow managed to crawl back from the precipice of the grave. Hardy buggers. Can this miracle be repeated in 2010? (Photographs taken yesterday, 1102 days since I planted Set A.)

Cider gum No. 1 – looking very dead. Has it fallen into the endless abyss?

Cider gum No. 2 – one of the tall Class I gums.

Cider gum No. 3 - one of the three Class III runty gums. The dead upper part of No. 3 was killed off by the previous winter, but the winter-just-gone looks to have put paid to its recovery efforts.

Cider gum No. 4.

Cider gum No. 5 – another one of those that may now be At Rest.

Cider gum No. 6 – another Class III, another cadaver?

Cider gum No. 7 – the tallest of all the cider gums. A real Class I über-gum. It now shares its pot with a brassy young sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) that has recently sprouted.

Cider gum No. 7’s new roomie.

Cider gum No. 8.

Cider gum No. 9 also has a new roomie: a wee clump of what look to be rushes.

I hope it’s Juncus effusus!

Cider gum No. 10.

Cider gum No. 11 – another victim of winter.

Cider gum No. 12 - Class I.

Cider gum No. 13 – the only treeblog tree still on crutches. Some of the other gums are looking a bit leany or loose in the soil, so support canes will probably be making a comeback.

Cider gum No. 14 - Class I.

Cider gum No. 15 - Class III. Has this winter managed what the previous one couldn’t? Poor things looks dead as a door-post.


* * * * *

Set C news: There are Set C(r) rowans sprouting by the bucketload! These beauties will be the subject of the next post, but I’ll tell you right here and now that yesterday I counted thirty-three seedlings in the Whitwell Moor section and two in the Upper Midhope section. I photographed them this afternoon, along with the Set C birches, which are just beginning to put out their first leaves of the new year. treeblog is in a good place!


Posted in The treeblog trees





First signs of spring: alder and hazel catkins. A brief update on the treeblog trees.

Male catkins on hazel (Corylus avellana).

Winter’s grip on the countryside is finally loosening! The weather may still be nasty, but the days are getting longer and the local alders and hazels have been blasting out their male catkins. The hazels in particular look rather spiffing, their pale yellow lambs’ tails creating welcome splashes of colour in an otherwise bleak treescape.

More male hazel catkins, or lambs’ tails. These photos were taken beside Broomhead Reservoir on Tuesday.

This year’s developing male catkins (cigar-shaped) and last year’s woody female catkins (egg-shaped) on an overhead alder (Alnus glutinosa) branch.


* * * * *

And now for a brief update on the treeblog trees, neglected on this blog for far too long. Sad face.


Set A

The two Scots pines look fine. The four grey alders are covered in buds; the top of grey alder No. 4 is dead, as suspected in September. Most of the cider gums look alright, although a few of them have picked up a bit of a lean. Cider gums Nos. 1 and 15 look like they have suffered some serious frost damage. Will they survive? No. 15 took a lot of frost damage last year and survived… The post-Set A goat willow (the seedling formerly known as PSAUS) has some nice big buds.


Set C

Most of the downy birches have just started opening their tiny little buds. A few of them may have died, and some of them look to have had their roots exposed over the winter, so some replanting may be in order this weekend.

Set C’s downy birch No. 2 on Tuesday (16th February – 342 days after planting), standing a fine one-inch tall.


Set D

None of the sweet chestnuts or beechnuts, planted in the autumn, have sprouted yet. I’m aiming to plant my rowan seeds, the other component of Set D, in March. They are currently undergoing pretreatment.


* * * * *

P.S. It was treeblog’s third anniversary on Sunday!


Posted in Gone for a walk + The treeblog trees





treeblog update (Set C, Day 192): the downy birches

Downy birch No. 1 – one of the best.

It‘s been a long time coming, but it’s finally here: the treeblog Set C update that you’ve been missing! Take a gander at the surviving downy birches as they were yesterday, 192 days after I planted them as seeds. Actually, there is no photo of downy birch No. 29 – the tricot – because I no longer know which seedling is No. 29. I presume it’s still alive, but the seed tray where it yet resides is chock-a-block with wee birch seedlings and No. 29 is lost in the horde. That is a problem needing solving.

Going back in time, I decided that treeblog would only follow the first thirty birches to germinate, seeing how so bloody many did. The lucky few would be Nos. 1 to 30 with the exception of Nos. 8, 18, 19 and 20 (who were lost in the horde as far back as May). Downy birch No. 7 then died around the beginning of June, and since the last update on the 9th of July (Day 120) a further two have kicked the bucket: Nos. 6 and 17.

So twenty-three of the seedlings are still going (but No. 29 is lost for the moment). Nos. 9 and 11 appear to be on their way out: they are looking very sickly. Nos. 1, 2 and 25 are looking like the best of the bunch at the moment, and Nos. 3, 23, 27, 28 and 30 are looking fairly poor. In general, the downy birches have not grown very much at all over the last two and a half months.

Downy birches Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 5. No. 2 is one of the better performers.

Downy birches Nos. 9, 10, 11 and 12. Nos. 9 and 11 appear to be in their death throes.

Downy birches Nos. 13, 14, 15 and 16.

Downy birches Nos. 21, 22, 23 and 24.

Downy birch No. 25 – another one of the top performers.

Downy birches Nos. 26, 27, 28 and 30.


* * * * *

A wee bit of bonus Set A news now. The last fortnight has been very dry, and while the treeblog trees have been kept supplied with water, grey alder No. 4 appears to have been sunburned. The new leaves on the leading shoots are either dead or with dead patches, and the leading shoot itself appears to have died – it feels stiffer than it ought to and is looking more brown than green. This would be the third alder to lose its leader this year; only No. 1 would be left with a perfect main stem.


Posted in The treeblog trees





treeblog update (Set C, Day 120): the downy birches; Grey alder No. 3 beheaded

Downy birch No. 1.

Yesterday afternoon, 120 days after the planting of treeblog Set C, I spent some time photographing the twenty-five downy birches. Since the last update in mid-June (Day 95), most of the seedlings have grown a second proper leaf and are now working on a third. Some of them are outperforming the rest (e.g. No. 21) and some are rather underperforming (e.g. No. 17); some look in rude health (e.g. No. 5) and some look rather sickly (e.g. No. 12); but there have been no losses in the three-and-a-half weeks since the last update. For this, the Day 120 update, Downy birch No. 1 has already got us started (I recommend checking out its photo-timeline) – the rest of the squad have formed ranks below and are standing to attention awaiting your inspection. (Most of the seedlings are sprinkled with sand and soil particles splashed there by heavy rains, but that’s nothing to worry about.)

Downy birches Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 5.

Downy birches Nos. 6, 9, 10 and 11. No. 9 has only just developed its first true leaf. Lagger!

Downy birches Nos. 12, 13, 14 and 15.

Downy birches Nos. 16, 17, 21 and 22. No. 17’s another underperformer but No. 21 is doing great.

Downy birches Nos. 23, 24, 25 and 26. No. 24 is doing well here.

Downy birches Nos. 27, 28, 29 and 30. No. 29 – the tricot – is doing well. It’s still in the birch seed tray for the time being.


* * * * *

In other news… Set A’s grey alder No. 3 was beheaded last weekend by these nasty, secretive pests that have been plaguing the alders for weeks. No. 4 was almost beheaded in mid-May, No. 2 was beheaded in mid-June… and now No. 3. The photo below shows the not-quite-fully-severed leading shoot hanging limply to one side. Unbearable.

Grey alder No. 3: demasted.


Posted in The treeblog trees





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