53 posts tagged with

the Set A Scots pines

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treeblog update: the Set A Scots pines, the PSAUS, & the Set D(b) beeches (May/June 2012)

Get set for the latest update on the development of the two Set A Scots pines, the post-Set A unknown seedling (PSAUS), and the two Set D(b) European beeches! In the intervening two-and-a-half months since the previous Set A update, Scots pine Alpha has produced 2012’s candles, Scots pine Gamma has been struck by pests, and the PSAUS has come fully into leaf. The last Set D(b) update was in October 2011; since then the two beeches have lost their last autumn leaves and regrown a whole new set.

I photographed the Scots pines and the PSAUS on Sunday (Day 1901, or just over five years and two months since I planted the Set A trees as seeds). I photographed the two beeches a fortnight earlier on the 29th of May (Day 972, or two years and eight months since I planted the Set D(b) beeches as nuts).

Behold ye fine Scots pine Alpha with this season’s growth so far strikingly manifested as candles sprouting from the tip of every branch. You may perhaps have noticed a skinny foxglove growing through the tree to the right of the stem; this is a self-set which I do not have the heart to pull up. (The tent in the background was there to dry out, having just got back from walking the Rob Roy Way!)

A close-up view from the candles at the very top of my pine. The candles will get even longer and then sprout needles, transforming into ordinary branches.

A close-up of a branch rosette on the sturdy main stem.

Scots pine Gamma, sadly looking nowhere near as perky as Alpha. The candles are barely grown! Why?

This is why – Gamma is under attack from a pest, perhaps some kind of aphid. The poor tree is infested with these tiny, dark grey insects and they are definitely having an adverse effect.

The PSAUS is looking slender but healthy.

PSAUS detail.

Beech Alpha looks great with its fresh, new leaves!

Beech Beta looks lovely too. I can’t wait to see how these two develop this year!


Posted in The treeblog trees





Set A update: grey alders & Scots pines (March 2012)

Grey alder No. 1 on Saturday.

Five years ago today, on the 28th of March 2007, I planted three kinds of seeds: grey alder (Alnus incana), Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), and cider gum (Eucalyptus gunnii) as treeblog’s Set A. Today, all of the cider gums are dead, but on the fifth anniversary of their planting, three grey alders and two Scots pines are alive and well. On Saturday (March 24th – Day 1823) I paid the surviving grey alders a visit.

Grey alder No. 1 looks rather spindly and the sheep damage at the base of the stem is still nasty. Ne’ertheless, it still lives and what’s more…

…there are catkins! Only one clump, but No. 1 actually has catkins and it’s only five years old! The yellowish part is the top of a male catkin (not sure where the rest is); the fuzzy, reddish (out-of-focus) parts are the female flowers, which will develop into woody seed-bearing ‘cones’. I do not know if grey alders are able to self-pollinate; if not then it is extremely unlikely to produce fertile seed.

Grey alder No. 2: the best of the bunch, despite being the worst performer for a long time. No. 2 and No. 3 grow close together, while No. 1 (and the dead No. 4) are at a different location.

No. 2 and the late afternoon sun.

Grey alder No. 3. While not quite as strong as No. 2, it is far sturdier than No. 1.

The stem could hardly be called spindly, and good progress is being made in sealing the old sheep grazing wounds.

No. 3 was the most advanced of the three in terms of bud-burst or flushing. Lots of the buds were already showing green, with tiny leaves just starting to unfurl from some.

No. 3 from a different angle.

My last visit to the alders was in September. While they have now been in the wild since April 2010, the Scots pines remain in our garden for the time being. I took their picture yesterday (Day 1826):

Scots pine Alpha. It can’t be long now before its buds begin stretching out into candles.

Scots pine Gamma.

And finally, even though I didn’t plant it (it’s a self-set), here’s honorary Set A member PSAUS - some kind of willow, perhaps a goat willow (Salix caprea).


Posted in The treeblog trees





treeblog update: the Set A Scots pines; PSAUS; the Set D beeches (October 2011)

Scots pine Alpha.

For the first time since April (!), here’s an update on the progress of the two Set A Scots pines; I took the photos yesterday, 1,677 days or 4 years & 7 months since I planted them as seeds.

Scots pine Gamma.

Well aren’t they both doing well? Absolutely spiffingly, even if I do say so myself.

A closer look at the centrepiece of S.p. Alpha’s highest branch whorl. All of this has grown this year. One whorl a year with Scots pine saplings!

Here’s something novel for you: a bird’s eye view of Scots pine Alpha…

…and Scots pine Gamma. The size difference is just as apparent from above.

The PSAUS. It doesn’t look very healthy here, but that’s because autumn has removed most of its leaves. Its actually doing rather well, but could do with a bigger pot as a matter of some urgency.

The two Set D(b) European beeches are also making their first appearance since April. I planted these as nuts 760 days or 2 years & 1 month ago.

Beech Alpha. This seedling is the offspring of a cut- or fern-leaved beech (Fagus sylvatica var. Aspleniifolia) but it appears not to have inherited the cut-leaf characteristic. Booo!

Beech Beta. This seedling is the offspring of a normal European beech – as you can see it is identical to its nurserymate. Its mother is a fine specimen of a beech – a ‘plus tree’ – so I have high hopes for this fella.


* * * * *

Now for some quantification... The following table shows the approximate heights in centimetres for all five trees, measured yesterday. The heights of the Scots pines and PSAUS as recorded on the 19th of August 2009 are also included, along with respective height growth in the intervening period (expressed as percentages).

Tree Height
Aug 2009
Height
Oct 2011
Height Increase
Scots pine Alpha 50 108 116%
Scots pine Gamma 30 73 143%
PSAUS 33 71 115%
European beech Alpha - 20 -
European beech Beta - 27 -

Posted in The treeblog trees





treeblog update: Set A Scots pines & cider gum; PSAUS; Set D(b) beeches

As a follow-up to Saturday’s treeblog census, here’s an update on the two Set A Scots pines, the sole remaining Set A cider gum, the PSAUS, and the two Set D(b) European beeches. I took the photos yesterday (Set A Day 1,483 / Set D(b) Day 566).

Scots pine Alpha, tied to a cane for straightening treatment. Last seen (along with SP Gamma, PSAUS & the beeches) on treeblog last June looking decidedly smaller. It’s now gearing up for this year’s growth spurt…

Behold! - new candles on the top of Alpha. They will develop into the third whorl of branches.

Scots pine Gamma. Only half the size of Alpha, but still looking good.

Cider gum No. 14 (last seen on treeblog in May, looking much better) – the only cider gum to survive the harsh winter of 2010/2011. It isn’t in good shape.

The top of No. 14 is the only part with any vitality. New growth has been put on here already this year.

The PSAUS a.ka. the post-Set A unknown seedling a.k.a. the post-Set A willow. I think it’s probably a goat willow.

Admire those tender, young, willowy leaves.

treeblog’s only cut- or fern-leaved beech* a.k.a. the Alpha beech [*may just be an ordinary old European beech]. Still bare, but beech is always one of the last trees into leaf along with ash and oak. Those buds surely can’t be far from bursting now.

The Beta beech a.k.a. the only beech that grew from the nuts I collected at Wigtwizzle in 2009. Definitely just an ordinary European beech, but it has one hell of a parent!

And look - its cotyledons are still attached!


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





Set A Scots pines update (Days 1162 & 1172). Set D beeches update (Days 232 to 255).

Set A: the Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris)

Scots pine Alpha on Saturday (Day 1172). Look how the next generation of needles have begun to spring out from the new candles!

Here it is again ten days earlier, on Day 1162 (June 2nd); notice how the needles haven’t yet started growing in earnest.

Here’s Scots pine Gamma on Day 1162…

…and here it is ten days later, on Saturday. What a difference! You can check out both pines (and the PSAUS) as they were on Day 1149 in the last Scots pine update.


Set D(b): the beeches (Fagus sylvatica)

It’s the cut- or fern-leaved beech on Day 235 (May 23rd). But is it a cut-leaved beech? Its mother certainly is, but look at its leaves…

…they just look like normal European beech leaves (photo taken on Day 245 - June 2nd). Will future leaves be cut-leaved? Here’s the is it / isn’t it situation as I currently read it:

While there may exist actual wholly cut-leaved cultivars (where every cell contains the freak cut-leaved DNA), it seems that most cut-leaved beeches are ‘chimaeras’. In these chimaeras the inner tissues are identical to the normal European beech, but they are enveloped by the cells of the sport [a sport is defined as ‘a genetic freak’ by the Collins Tree Guide]. In other words, a cut-leaved beech is really a normal beech tree coated in a cut-leaved beech skin. That’s why branches with normal leaves will sometimes sprout, especially after an injury: the freakish skin has been removed and normality has been exposed to the outside world. I don’t know for sure one way or the other – I can’t find an answer anywhere – but I can imagine that the nuts of a cut-leaved beech tree are normal beech nuts wrapped (or not) in a cut-leaved skin. If that’s right, I assume these nuts would grow into perfectly normal beech trees free of a cut-leaved skin. If my assumptions are on the money, it would mean that treeblog’s Set D(b) cut-leaved beech is just a bog-standard Eurobeech. Bah.

The cut-leaved (?) beech on Saturday (Day 255). I think from now on it’ll have to be called the Alpha beech instead.

This little chap is the Set D(b) European beech – definitely just a bog-standard European beech, albeit the miracle offspring of a magnificent mature tree. I first noticed this seedling, the Beta beech, on the 18th of May (Day 230). Here it is rising above the soil two and three days later.

A few days later (the 26th and 30th of May) and this tiny beech was standing erect.

By the 2nd of June (Day 245) its cotyledons had opened…

…and by Saturday (Day 255) its first pair of proper leaves were forming. Bravo, Beta beech, bravo. The last Set D(b) update has photos of Alpha beech from Days 213 to 228 and the first photos of Beta beech along with the story of the ‘miracle’.


PSAUS: hopefully a goat willow (Salix caprea)

The PSAUS on Saturday.

Photos from May 30th and June 2nd taken by my father.


* * * * *

This month’s short but sweet Festival of the Trees, hosted by Casey of Wandering Owl Outside, has been up for a fortnight. Go read!

And as June is already half-spent, it’s probably a good time to think about your submission for July’s festival, which will be hosted by Yvonne of The Organic Writer.


Posted in The treeblog trees





Set A Scots pines update (Day 1149)

Scots pine Alpha on Thursday evening (Set A, Day 1149). Those candles are getting pretty long now…

…but back on the 24th of April they weren’t really candles at all; more glorified buds.

A week later, on the 1st of May, and good progress had already been made.

Here they are again on the 11th of May…

…and this is an almost up-to-date view from Thursday (the 20th of May). Not be long until the needles appear now!

In addition to the candles on top of Scots pine Alpha, each of its three little branches has a candle on the tip (seen here on Tuesday).

With less candles than its stablemate, here’s Scots pine Gamma. It currently shares its pot with an ash and a sycamore seedling.

Not a Scots pine, but here’s the PSAUS a.k.a. the post-Set A unknown seedling a.k.a. a goat willow.

And last but not least, here’s the ash that germinated last year in grey alder No. 3’s pot: a real tree in minature.

Speaking of the grey alders, I wonder how they’re getting on. I think we’re due another visit soon, you & I. But first things first: the next two updates will deal with the cider gums. Yes, there have been deaths. But there has also been reincarnation!


Posted in The treeblog trees





Set D(b) cut-leaved beech update (Days 206-209). Set A grey alders update (Day 1123).

The Set D(b) cut-leaved beech has appeared above ground! Here it is on Saturday (Day 206), the first time I’d seen it poking up through the soil. A couple of Saturdays previously I was searching through the Set D beech seed trays when I noticed that this wee tree had sprouted a long root – that was Day 193.

Beech seedlings don’t hang around. Here it is a day later, on Sunday….

…here it is yesterday…

…and here it is this evening. Its cotyledons should open up over the next few days. This is the first beech I’ve ever managed to grow!


* * * * *

As well as discovering this young beech, Saturday also saw me off on a long walk to check up on the recently released Set A grey alders – 1123 days after I planted them as seeds. The good news is that they are all still in situ and doing well. The bad news is that three of them have been munched on by sheep! (I planted Nos. 2 and 3 out in the wild on the 2nd of April (Day 1101); Nos. 1 and 4 were planted out on the 14th of April (Day 1113) – see this post for the details.)

Grey alder No. 1 – this one lives next door to No. 4. Some of the lower branches have been cut back by browsing sheep – I know who the culprits are because they left some wool behind. Nevermind. Those lower branches wouldn’t be kept by the tree for long anyway, and I’d already given thought to pruning them off.

Grey alder No. 2 – this one lives next door to No. 3. No. 2 is the only one of the alders to remain unscathed by sheep.

Here’re some of No. 2’s brand spanking new leaves (all of the alders have them now!). They’re perfect.

Grey alder No. 3. (Sorry about the photos of the alders – I couldn’t get any good ones with their superb camouflage for blending in with the background).

Here’s the tip of one of No. 3’s branches after being nibbled down to size by an ovine fiend. Disgraceful.

Grey alder No. 4 – leading the competition in the leaf department.

Taken back home in the garden on Saturday evening, this photo shows how another Set A tree – Scots pine Alpha – has begun expanding its buds. These little brown columns are lengthening noticeably with each passing day; soon they will be great, long candles. Then it won’t be long until they blast out 2010’s needles!


Posted in The treeblog trees





Third Anniversary of the planting of treeblog's Set A. treeblog update (Set A, Day 1096): Scots pines & grey alders.

That’s right! A whole three years have passed since I first planted the Set A seeds. I started it all off with a packet of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) seeds that I was given at a careers fair, a packet of cider gum (Eucalyptus gunnii) seeds that I borrowed from uni, and a handful of grey alder (Alnus incana) seeds that I collected on a field trip. To demonstrate just how much the Set A trees have changed since I planted them on the 28th of March 2007, I’ve assembled three mini-timelines. The Scots pine and grey alder assemblages of are followed by normal-sized contemporary photographs, taken this afternoon. I haven’t photographed the cider gums yet, but I expect to get them later in the week. I’ll give them a separate treeblog update of their own.

To represent Pinus sylvestris, here’s Scots pine Alpha:

Day 0 - 28 March 2007

Day 47 - 14 May 2007

Day 55 - 22 May 2007

Day 62 - 29 May 2007

Day 95 - 1 July 2007

Day 154 - 29 August 2007

Day 409 - 10 May 2008

Day 432 - 2 June 2008

Day 458 - 28 June 2008

Day 515 - 24 August 2008

Day 605 - 22 Nov 2008

Day 731 - 28 March 2009

Day 782 - 18 May 2009

Day 822 - 27 June 2009


Day 1096 - 28 March 2010

…and here’s the other Scots pine, Gamma. The buds on the Scots pines haven’t started swelling yet, but I’m anticipating another massive growth spurt in May.



To represent Alnus incana, here’s grey alder No. 4:

Day 0 - 28 March 2007

Day 47 - 14 May 2007 (unknown g.a.)

Day 62 - 29 May 2007 (unknown g.a.)

Day 74 - 10 June 2007

Day 95 - 1 July 2007

Day 154 - 29 August 2007


Day 196 - 10 October 2007

Day 264 - 17 December 2007

Day 409 - 10 May 2008

Day 432 - 2 June 2008

Day 515 - 24 August 2008

Day 731 - 28 March 2009

Day 754 - 28 April 2009

Day 781 - 17 May 2009


Day 822 - 27 June 2009

Day 875 - 19 August 2009


Day 1096 - 28 March 2010

… and here are the rest of the grey alders. This is No. 1 - the tallest of the bunch. The black bar is to mark the maximum height of the tree, as the leading twig doesn’t really stand out very well from the background. I apologise for the miserable colours (I upped the brightness and contrast), but it was the only available plain(ish) backdrop big enough to do the job!

Grey alder No. 2 – the shortest alder.

Grey alder No. 3. The buds on Nos. 3 and 4 are just beginning to open.

This is one of the very first leaves to make an appearance on alder No. 4.

And here’s a look at the bark on No. 4’s trunk. It’s awesome, isn’t it, the way the outer layer of bark peels back from around the lenticels to form all those little diamonds?



To represent Eucalyptus gunnii, here’s cider gum No. 7 (with some of his cohorts):

Day 0 - 28 March 2007

Day 47 - 14 May 2007 (unknown c.g.)

Day 62 - 29 May 2007 (unknown c.g.)

Day 81 - 17 June 2007 (c.g. No. 1)

Day 130 - 5 August 2007

Day 196 - 10 October 2007

Day 397 - 28 April 2008

Day 432 - 2 June 2008

Day 480 - 20 July 2008

Day 497 - 6 August 2008

Day 558 - 6 October 2008

Day 731 - 28 March 2009

Day 785 - 21 May 2009

Day 876 - 20 August 2009


(More on the cider gums in the forthcoming update.)


These have been the first photos of the Set A trees on treeblog since August last year! That is a pretty poor show on my part, but to be honest the growing season had near enough ended by then so the trees have changed little in the intervening period. Well, the alders lost their leaves, but deciduous trees have a habit of doing that.

The Scots pines are doing well. So are the alders, but they have outgrown the garden and need to be planted somewhere asap before the growing season is upon us. Where though? Some of the cider gums have been damaged by frost, and some of them need larger pots. Nos. 6 and 15 look to have been killed off by the frost, but I said that about Nos. 3 and 15 last year but they bounced back. And the post-Set A unknown seedling, now thought to be a goat willow? How’s that doing?

The Artist Formerly Known As PSAUS.
It’s doing just fine.


Posted in The treeblog trees





treeblog update (Set A, Day 876): cider gums Nos. 1 to 8

Everybody loves a good graph. This one ranks the heights of all twenty-one treeblog Set A trees plus the post-Set A goat willow as they were on the 20th of August / Day 876 (cider gums) and the 19th of August / Day 875 (the rest). The lighter section of each bar represents the previous height of each tree, as recorded on the 1st of July / Day 826 (cider gums) and the 27th of June / Day 822 (the rest), so the darker top sections represent height growth in the intervening period. As always, you can access a larger version of the image by clicking on it.

As you can see, the grey alders are now by far and away the tallest trees in Set A. Even the shortest alder, No. 2., is almost half a metre taller at 150 cm than the next highest tree, cider gum No. 7, at 110 cm. Since the end of June, the Scots pines have barely put on any height growth (probably just needle lengthening, actually). Scots pine Gamma is now only taller than the three cider gum runts, Nos. 3, 6 and 15. (Cider gum No. 3 is shown to be 9 cm tall but if its dead top is not counted, its living parts are only 4 cm tall. Runty!) The cider gums have all put on a bit of height growth in the last two months, but the growth of the grey alders has been phenomenal! No. 2 more than doubled in height, No. 1 almost doubled… and No. 1 came from being the third tallest alder at the end of June to being the tallest alder today. Perhaps if grey alder No. 3’s top hadn’t been chewed off by the mystery alder attacker, causing it to fork, it would be even taller than No. 1 is today…

If you need to do a bit more obsessing over heights, you can go back and have a look at the similar graph I made for the June 27 / July 1 heights in this post. Otherwise, let’s fire up the cider gum update! Photos taken on Thursday the 20th (Day 876).

Cider gum No. 1.

Cider gum No. 2.

Cider gum No. 3. It continues to recover from its frosty near-death experience, but will it be able to survive the upcoming winter?

Cider gum No. 4.

Cider gum No. 5.

Cider gum No. 6. Looks to be suffering from some kind of black mould on some of its leaves, but its health doesn’t seem to be affected.

Cider gum No. 7. The tallest of all the cider gums, and the fifth tallest of all the treeblog trees.

Cider gum No. 8.


Posted in The treeblog trees





treeblog update (Set A, Day 875): Scots pines (& grey alders). Eggs & caterpillars. Eucalyptus flowers.

Scots pine Alpha earlier today (Day 875).

Scots pine Gamma.

A bit of an eclectic post is this one, gang! First of all there’s a bit of a treeblog Set A update, but only for the two Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris), the post-Set A goat willow (Salix caprea - formerly the PSAUS), and one of the grey alders (Alnus incana). Normally I’d lump the pines, willow and all the alders together but I haven’t been able to this time because the grey alders are too big. I like to have a nice, clear background on these update photos y’see, and for most of the Set A trees I have a piece of plywood that’s perfect for the job. This summer the grey alders have outgrown it by quite a ways. I had a background trick up my sleeve for the last Scots pine & grey alder update (27th June – Day 822) though: I hung a grey blanket from the washing line. But in the intervening one-and-a-half months (sorry for the wait) the alders have rocketed up and are now so big that even my double-bed sheet hung from the line is too small to make do! What I tried for a background this time around – a wall of conifer – has proved so useless I’ve only bothered putting up one of the photos. A green alder against green conifer scales. It doesn’t exactly stand out from the background…

Grey alder No. 1 (with decreased brightness and increased contrast). Well camouflaged, eh?

Ohhh, by the way, I got out the tape measure and took some heights. I did the same when I did the last update, so now we know how much the trees grown in the last 53 days:

Scots pine Alpha: 27 Jun: 48 cm  //  19 Aug: 50 cm  //  Difference: 2 cm.
Scots pine Gamma: 27 Jun: 27 cm  //  19 Aug: 30 cm  //  Difference: 3 cm.
Grey alder No. 1: 27 Jun: 105 cm  //  19 Aug: 196 cm  //  Difference: 91 cm.
Grey alder No. 2: 27 Jun: 71 cm  //  19 Aug: 150 cm  //  Difference: 79 cm.
Grey alder No. 3: 27 Jun: 109 cm  //  19 Aug: 170 cm  //  Difference: 61 cm.
Grey alder No. 4: 27 Jun: 120 cm  //  19 Aug: 186 cm  //  Difference: 66 cm.
Post-Set A goat willow: 27 Jun: 25 cm  //  19 Aug: 33 cm  //  Difference: 8 cm.

That’s right! Grey alder No. 4 has lost its status as treeblog Champion to grey alder No. 1!!! Sensational!!! Grey alder No. 4 (the Beast) has been the tallest treeblog tree since early June 2007, when it took the crown from Scots pine Alpha. Other changes in the last month and half include grey alder No. 1 nearly doubling in height and grey alder No. 2 more than doubling in height! Some of my trees, that I planted two-and-a-half years ago, are now taller than me!

The post-Set A goat willow. See that bit of yellow on the uppermost leaf on the right-hand branch of the fork?

It looks like some kind of nasty fungus that is killing the leaf and the terminal leaf bud. I think the same thing may have happened last autumn which caused the seedling to fork. Will this branch end up forking again? Why is this happening? Is it something young willows are prone to?

Back to grey alder No. 1. On the underside of one of its leaves, this strange caterpillar that looks a bit like it’s covered in tiny flakes of coconut (like those you get on Tunnock’s Snowballs). No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get the bugger in focus, but I think it’s clear enough for someone out there to make an ID. Anyone?

That was today. I photographed this patch of eggs on one of the alders’ leaves on the 9th of August just as tiny-weeny caterpillars were hatching out.

These insect eggs were spotted on Scots pine Alpha the same day. I don’t know what was in them, but they have all hatched and a new batch has been laid since.

Cider gum No. 14’s flower buds still haven’t opened. Here they are on the 9th, and they look pretty much the same today.

When I was up in the Highlands for the first week of August, the cottage we stayed in had a young eucalyptus (about ten to fifteen foot tall) growing in the garden. This is one of its flowers. I don’t know what kind of eucalyptus it was, but it’s quite possible it was a cider gum (Eucalyptus gunnii) like mine.


Posted in The treeblog trees





treeblog update (Set A, Day 826): cider gums Nos. 1 to 7

Hot on the heels of the grey alder & Scots pine update (Day 822) comes the first half of the cider gum update of Day 826 – that’s today. But before that, have a gander at this graph that I’ve concocted:

The heights of all the Set A trees (and the PSAUS goat willow) relative to one another, laid out in ascending order. Each bar represents a tree; the colour of the bar denotes the species and the number above the bar identifies the tree (where P = PSAUS, α = alpha, & γ = gamma). The actual heights of the trees are given in centimetres under each bar. The bar representing cider gum No. 3 is in two colours: the lower segment represents the height of the living part of the seedling; the two segments together represent the total height of the seedling including dead parts.

As you can see, the three smallest trees are the three cider gum runts: Nos. 3, 6 and 15 (8 cm, 9 cm* and 22 cm respectively). The tallest three trees are the big grey alders: Nos. 1, 3 and 4. Grey alder No. 4, the Beast, remains the tallest of all the treeblog trees at 120 cm. The tallest cider gum is No. 7 at 97 cm, almost twenty centimetres taller than the second-tallest gum, No. 12. Scots pine Alpha (48 cm) comes in around the middle of the cider gum range, while Scots pine Gamma (27 cm) only manages to be taller than the cider gum runts and the PSAUS goat willow (25 cm).
* Only 6 cm if the dead upper parts are not included in the measurement.

After that fascinating digression, back to the update proper!

Cider gum No. 1.

Cider gum No. 2.

Cider gum No. 3, arisen from the grave. The white arrow points to a minute leaf that has recently developed. This is just below the limit of the living tissue at a height of 6 cm. The vast majority of the new growth is much closer to the base, and is shown in close-up in the photo below:

Phoenix-growth!

Cider gum No. 4: distressingly wonky at the top.

Cider gum No. 5: nicely symmetrical.

Cider gum No. 6: the only one of the runts realistically capable of achieving non-runt status.

Cider gum No. 7: the tallest of the gums (Top Gum). The photo looks a little stretched or skewed because of the downwards-looking angle I had to take the photo at to get the whole tree against the background-board.


* * * * *

July’s Festival of the Trees – the 37th edition! – is online at TGAW. I haven’t had time to give it more than a perfunctory glance so far but it looks like Vicky has put together a great version. Go read!


Posted in The treeblog trees





treeblog update (Set A, Day 822): grey alders & Scots pines

Cripes! I hadn’t realised how much time had elapsed since the last grey alder / Scots pine update. The last one was in mid-May: Day 782. The trees have grown a hella lot in the intervening forty days!

Photos taken yesterday (Day 822).

Scots pine Alpha: one ridonculous leader and three side-shoots. 48 cm from tip to base.

Scots pine Gamma: a modest leader and just the one side-shoot. 27 cm.

Grey alder No. 1: way overgrown for its pot. 105 cm.

Grey alder No. 2. Had its leading stem bitten off by whatever nasty piece of work is mauling the alders. Damn. 71 cm.

Grey alder No. 3: as of yesterday, now in a 35 litre pot with plenty of growing room! 109 cm. No. 4 was also repotted on Wednesday (the 24th), but Nos. 1 and 2 will have to wait until I get some more sand and compost.

Grey alder No. 4. 120 cm. The size gap between No. 4 and Nos. 1 and 3 has diminished rather! While many of No. 4’s leaves are damaged (overzealous application of pesticide?), the newer ones are thankfully healthy. I moved it out of ‘quarantine’ on Wednesday as the worst of the alder attacker’s attacks seem to be over.

When the mystery alder attacker was a new phenomenon, around mid-May, the leading stem of No. 4 had a massive chunk taken out of it. I thought the Beast would be beheaded for sure, but it fought back and has now put plenty of new growth above the injury. Here’s the scarring as it was today next to the fresh damage on May 17th. How the stem has thickened!

The post-Set A goat willow, formerly called PSAUS. Truly a healthy looking specimen, radiating vitality and vigour. 25 cm.

A wee common ash (Fraxinus excelsior), potted up yesterday from its former residence in grey alder No. 3’s old pot (see the Day 782 update). Just as treeblog has followed the PSAUS even though it was self-seeded, this cheeky chappy will become a permanent fixture in the treeblog garage. 8 cm.


* * * * *

Set A cider gums update coming soon!


* * * * *

Update – 29 June 2009:
Grey alders Nos. 1 and 2 were repotted into 35-litre pots this afternoon.


Posted in The treeblog trees





treeblog update (Set A, Day 782): grey alders & Scots pines

Yesterday (Set A, Day 782), and another break in the rain, I got outside and photographed grey alders Nos. 1, 2 and 3, both Scots pines, and the post-Set A unknown seedling (PSAUS). And the potted birch seedlings from Set C, but that’s a different post.

Scots pine Alpha in its new pot. Since Alpha’s last appearance on treeblog in the Day 754 update almost a month ago, it has grown a fine set of candles. The leading candle is the tallest by far – the close-up view below allows the young needles to be made out.

This candle performs a clever little trick daily: it leans over, and then straightens itself up again. One may expect it to grow towards the sun, in whose direction it sometimes does lean; but mostly the candle leans away from the sun towards a dark wall of conifer. Perhaps the candle is showing a tendency to grow towards warmth. The dark, flat surface of the conifer hedge will probably radiate a fair bit of thermal energy when warmed by direct sunlight.

Scots pine Gamma: not as developed as Scots pine Alpha in the candle stakes.

Grey alder No. 1. Whilst the grey alders are much bigger trees than the Scots pines, they are still stuck in the same-sized pots. I’ve got my eye on some 30-litre pots to rectify this unacceptable situation.

Grey alder No. 2, the smallest of the four.

Root nodules at the base of No. 2 (at least I assume that’s what they are). A photograph of these same nodules appeared in the Day 702 update when they were dull orange, not crimson. It might just be the angle of the photographs, but they seem to have grown a bit bigger since then. They contain nitrogen-fixing bacteria of the genus Frankia that take nitrogen from the atmosphere, where it is unusable by the tree, and ‘fix’ it into compounds that are used by the tree.

Grey alder No. 3.

No. 3 has a large-cotyledoned seedling growing at its feet, probably either an ash (Fraxinus excelsior) or a sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus).

The PSAUS, although perhaps it ought to be henceforth known as the PSAW for it has now been recognised as a willow. What flavour of willow it is remains to be seen, however. Candidate species are goat willow (Salix caprea) – a clump grow locally – and white willow (Salix alba) – a large specimen grows quite close by.

The willow’s blackened old leader remains, even though it died off last autumn.


* * * * *

Set C(r) news - Day 68 (yesterday)
Two more seedlings in the ‘Whitwell Moor’ rowan zone: WM3 & WM4.


Posted in The treeblog trees





treeblog update (Set A, Day 754): grey alders & Scots pines

Say a big hello to the latest treeblog update, this time around updating you on the progress of the grey alders, the Scots pines, and of course, the post-Set A unknown seedling (PSAUS). I took these photographs on Monday (the 20th), 754 days after Set A was planted; while I was at it I took a tape measure to each of the treelings to measure their height before their growth explodes.

The PSAUS, looking rather lovely in the sunshine. It’s leafing out and branching out. 13 cm tall (from the base to the tip of the stem).

Grey alder No. 4. The tallest of all the treeblog trees at a whopping 91 cm. Primo!

Grey alders Nos. 1, 2 and 3. 75 cm, 55 cm and 65 cm high respectively.

Scots pine Alpha. 17 cm tall.

Scots pine Gamma. At 12 cm tall, this one’s the shortest in this update.

How will the heights have changed by the end of the summer? Will grey alder No. 4 still be the big daddy? Will PSAUS finally get a positive ID???


Posted in The treeblog trees





A few developments from Sets A & C

I was out in the sunny garden on Monday photographing and measuring the grey alders and Scots pines for a Set A update, which I’ll post tomorrow. Here are five miscellaneous photos that shouldn’t mind being left out of an update:

So on Monday, or Day 40, while undertaking my daily scrutinisation of the Set C seed trays, I noticed sommat in the birch tray. Not bethinking it to be a seedling, as it was lying on the soil surface, I gently hoisted it upon a fingernail. Lo! twas a birch seed with a root! After a photo I put it back under a light cover of soil, or more accurately, compost. Will it carry on growing and develop into a bona fide seedling? Or will it wither away before ever amounting to aught? Nothing more has been seen or heard of the rooted rowan berry accidentally excavated on the 14th…

From Set C to Set A: the uppermost buds of Scots pine Alpha (there are a pair much further down the stem). Any time now I expect the large terminal bud, swollen with spring, to erupt into new needles.

One of grey alder No. 4’s leaves. The leaves of all four alders currently don’t look like normal grey alder leaves, either because they are the first leaves of spring or because they aren’t yet fully developed.

Cider gum No. 15, scarred survivor of the New Year’s hoar frost. It’s not dead, it’s got buds! Little red ones!

Cider gum No. 3, not just scarred, but killed off by that same frost. But was it? Low down on its stem, this tiny branch. It was there before the frost – I’m not saying it has grown since then. But I do say it looks like the old freak may still have life in it yet!

And in other news, my father and I completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge yesterday.

* * * * *

The next edition of the Festival of the Trees will be hosted by Orchards Forever from the 1st of May; the theme is trees in bloom. Don’t forget to submit.

* * * * *

Saturday 25th April – Monday 4th May
The sculptures of three fine art students – Elizabeth Green, Fran Morris and Lizzie Latham – will be on display at the Cradle outdoor art exhibition in Bournemouth Lower Gardens. Their work has the common theme of using trees as the setting for their sculptures. Click here for more information.


Posted in The treeblog trees





treeblog update (Set A, Day 741): grey alders & Scots pines

Spring is doing things to the treeblog trees. It’s making buds open and leaves come out. Although to be honest, spring hasn’t brought any noticeable change in the appearance of the Scots pines and cider gums, but after months of having them look like bare twigs the re-emergence of greenery on the grey alders and the unknown seedling is a sight to gladden the heart. The cider gum update will be here in a couple of days; until then, enjoy the rest of the gang.

Photos taken yesterday.

Grey alder No. 4, the mightiest of all the treeblog trees.

Check out some of the Beast’s fresh new leaves. Once all these super-efficient solar panels have been deployed, the alders are going to rocket up. This is causing me all kinds of anxieties and palpitations because this tree needs to be in the ground somewhere, not in a pot, yet I don’t have anywhere to plant it!

Grey alders Nos. 1, 2 and 3. It’s not just No. 4 that needs to be found a home, these three urgently need one too!

Scots pine Alpha.

Scots pine Gamma. I hope these two put on a spurt this year and get some branches on the go.

The pointy terminal bud of Scots pine Gamma.

The post-Set A unknown seedling. Will 2009 be the year it gets identified so its present unwieldy moniker can be done away with? There’s a rumour that it could be a goat willow…

What do you think? Do you put stock in this rumour? On the left we have a section of the Unknown One. On the right (not to scale), we have the newly emerging leaves of an actual goat willow (Salix caprea), photographed on April the 3rd. Similar buds, similar leaves with stipules*… and the difference in the colour of the shoots may be explained by the trusty Collins Tree Guide (by Johnson, 2004): Shoots red in sun, grey/green in shade. Please be a goat willow. Please.

* Stipule definition (from the same book): Appendage, usually leafy, at the base of a leaf- or flower-stalk.

* * * * *

Set C update – Day 28 (today): Still no sign of germination.


Posted in The treeblog trees





Second Anniversary of the planting of treeblog's Set A

Aye, today is the Second Anniversary of the planting of treeblog’s Set A. Those two years have gone by in a flash, but, paradoxically, it seems at the same time as if an age has passed since I put those seeds under the soil. To commemorate that occasion, I have laboured to put together a photographic summary for each of Set A’s constituent species: Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), grey alder (Alnus incana), and cider gum (Eucalyptus gunnii). These summaries consist of twelve sequential photos of a representative from each species; the first photos show seeds on the day of planting, the final photos show the trees today, and the other ten show intermediate stages. I’m quite proud of how much the Set A trees have grown over the course of just two years, particularly the alders.

Representing Pinus sylvestris, here’s Scots pine Alpha:

Day 0 - 28 March 2007

Day 47 - 14 May 2007

Day 55 - 22 May 2007

Day 62 - 29 May 2007

Day 95 - 1 July 2007

Day 154 - 29 August 2007

Day 409 - 10 May 2008

Day 432 - 2 June 2008

Day 458 - 28 June 2008

Day 515 - 24 August 2008

Day 605 - 22 Nov 2008

Day 731 - 28 March 2009



Representing Alnus incana, here’s grey alder No. 4:

Day 0 - 28 March 2007

Day 47 - 14 May 2007 (unknown g.a.)

Day 62 - 29 May 2007 (unknown g.a.)

Day 74 - 10 June 2007

Day 95 - 1 July 2007

Day 154 - 29 August 2007


Day 196 - 10 October 2007

Day 264 - 17 December 2007

Day 409 - 10 May 2008

Day 432 - 2 June 2008

Day 515 - 24 August 2008

Day 731 - 28 March 2009



Representing Eucalyptus gunnii, here’s cider gum No. 7 (getting by with a little help from its friends):

Day 0 - 28 March 2007

Day 47 - 14 May 2007 (unknown c.g.)

Day 62 - 29 May 2007 (unknown c.g.)

Day 81 - 17 June 2007 (c.g. No. 1)

Day 130 - 5 August 2007

Day 196 - 10 October 2007

Day 397 - 28 April 2008

Day 432 - 2 June 2008

Day 480 - 20 July 2008

Day 497 - 6 August 2008

Day 558 - 6 October 2008

Day 731 - 28 March 2009


Pretty nifty, eh? And just think: a year from now you could be looking back on three years of Set A!

* * * * *

Set C update – Day 17 (today): No sign of germination yet.


Posted in The treeblog trees





treeblog update (Set A, Day 702): grey alders & Scots pines

It’s been a long time coming, but I’m finally posting a treeblog update! It’s the first one of 2009 and the first one in almost 100 days - the last update was posted over three months ago on the 23rd of November. And in all that time… nothing has changed, apart from the grey alders losing the last of their leaves. That explains the lack of an update then, but with spring just weeks away I thought it best to crank one out.

What were the grey alders (Alnus incana) and Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris) doing this time last year? Aside from all the trees being astonishingly small, in the update posted on the 12th of February 2008 there is a close-up of grey alder No. 4’s terminal bud… and the tiny green leaf inside can be seen, all ready for the unfurlage! But two weeks after that date in 2009, grey alder No. 4’s terminal bud remains firmly closed. If you’re good, I promise you can have a look later in this update.

Now without further ado, let’s get into this update proper:

Grey alders Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in their wintry guises. No leaves, no growth… they slumber on and dream of spring.

Grey alder No. 4: the Beast. This one is genetically superior, I have no doubt about that. It towers over the rest of Set A! Some say that it is the arboreal reincarnation of Henry VIII. I don’t know about that.

Scots pine Alpha, looking a bit wonky. I hope this year’s growth endows it with a much sturdier stem.

Scots pine Gamma, looking rather windblown. The two pine photos are not to scale; in real life the Alpha is a bit bigger than the Gamma.

Remember this fellow? What? You don’t? Well I can’t blame you. It’s the post-Set A unknown seedling, and it hasn’t appeared on this humble blog since the update posted on the 6th of October. Back then, the tip of its one and only stem had died, and I didn’t expect the rest of it to last much longer. I was wrong. It’s made it through the winter and its little reddish buds are looking radiant with health. I’ve still no idea what species it is, or even if it is a tree at all. All I’ve got is a gut feeling of willow.

Ah, très intéressant. I noticed these root nodules on grey alder No. 2. They contain nitrogen-fixing bacteria of the genus Frankia that take nitrogen from the atmosphere, where it is unusable by the tree, and ‘fix’ it into compounds that are used by the tree.

This photo shows a bit of damage to the main stem of grey alder No. 4. I don’t know what caused this, but as nothing has been rubbing against the stem I can only assume that someone has been nibbling the bark.

Budwatch 2009. Here it is, the terminal bud of alder No. 4, that great barometer of spring. When will it open? When will spring officially begin? I shall endeavour to keep you updated.


…Coming soon… the Set A cider gum update… and the planting of treeblog Set C!


Posted in The treeblog trees





treeblog update (Set A, Day 605): grey alders & Scots pines

treeblog Set A update alert! Photography from yesterday afternoon (Day 605).

Just over a fortnight ago, as seen in the Day 590 update, the grey alders still kept most of their leaves. Yesterday it was a different story. No. 4 was completely leafless and Nos. 1 and 2 only had a couple. No. 3, weirdly, still had quite a few, while the evergreen Scots pines won't, of course, be shedding their needles. Have a good look:

Grey alders Nos. 1, 2 and 3. No. 1 and No. 2 are in winter mode, but No. 3 is holding back. Interesting.

The Beast! Grey alder No. 4, in full-on winter mode. I reckon the alders actually look better leafless than they have done for a quite a while. One consequence of all those caterpillars setting up home was the alders taking on a rather ragged appearance thanks to holes nibbled in the majority of their leaves. Some leaves were chewed right down to the main vein! Another plus that comes from leaflessness: the 3D branching structure of each alder can now be properly appreciated. Still, I’m looking forwards to seeing these guys bristling with perfect new leaves come spring.

The Alpha Scots pine. Funky needle afro. The two little rosettes up top should explode into action in the springtime.

The Gamma Scots pine. ‘Nuff said.


Posted in The treeblog trees





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