6 posts tagged with

the Set D rowans

page 1 of 1



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 D round-up: the beeches and the rowans

1. The cut-leaved beech (Days 213 to 228)

The terrific Set D(b) cut-leaved beech on the 1st of May (Day 213)…

…the 11th of May (Day 223)…

…and the 16th of May (Day 228) – Sunday. Here come the first pair of true leaves!


2. A beech miracle

On the 11th of April, my impatience at the lack of any seedlings in the Set D beech and sweet chestnut seed trays got the better of me and I began to rummage. I didn’t find a single germinated sweet chestnut, but I did find three germinated beechnuts. Two of these were cut- or fern-leaved beeches (Fagus sylvatica ‘Aspleniifolia’), one of which was still stuck inside its woody cupule (and to date has yet to appear above-soil, if it is still alive); the other is alive and well and was the star of the first part of this post. The third germinated beechnut was the only one out of the normal beech (Fagus sylvatica) I planted to do so… but in my rummaging I accidentally went and broke off its root. Shit.

I thought there was no hope, but I replanted it anyway.

(You can see where this is going, right?) Well, my optimism was rewarded! I checked on the treeblog stable this very afternoon (Set D(b) Day 230) and look what miracle awaited me:

Yes!!! The only germinating beechnut collected from the beech at Wigtwizzle has survived!


3. The Set D(r) rowans (Day 36)

I feel like the Set D(r) rowans are playing second fiddle to the Set C(r) rowans, mostly because I planted them thinking that Set C had failed to produce anything other than downy birches. But I was wrong, and now I have four lots of rowans: Set C(r) Whitwell Moor, Set C(r) Upper Midhope, Set D(r) Whitwell Moor, and Set D(r) Oaken Clough. I’m happy to be growing the offspring from three different trees, but does treeblog really need two years of seedlings from the rowan on Whitwell Moor?

Oaken Clough rowans Nos. 1 to 4 (O1 to 04).

Rowans O5 to O8.

Rowan O9 and Whitwell Moor rowans Nos. 1 to 3 (W1 to W3).

Rowans W4 to W7.

Photos taken on Sunday (Set D(r) Day 36).

When I planted (/replanted) the Set D(r) rowans on the 11th of April, I had nine Oaken Clough seedlings and twenty-two Whitwell Moor seedlings; of these all of the Oaken Clough offspring have survived, but only seven of the Whitwell Moor seedlings are still with us. Further seedlings have appeared in the seed tray since – I’ll transplant these soon.


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 Set D: pretreatment of the rowan seed

So I’ve (1) collected and (2) pre-pretreated treeblog’s Set D rowan seeds. Now they are undergoing (3) pretreatment before I (4) plant them in the spring. The last time I planted rowan seeds – for treeblog Set C – I neglected to pretreat them and my folly was rewarded by a total absence of germination. (So far… A year of ‘natural pretreatment’ and they may yet germinate alongside the Set D seeds!) This time I am boosting my chances of success by trying out three different methods of pretreatment advised by the Forestry Commission in their Practice Guide Growing trees and shrubs from seed by Peter Gosling (2007) [available online in .pdf format here].

Rowan seeds are classed as orthodox, deeply dormant seeds – ‘orthodox’ meaning easily stored and ‘deeply dormant’ meaning they ‘remain outwardly inactive under all conditions’, i.e. they require pretreatment to bring about germination. In the wild, rowan seeds would remain dormant for a year or two before germinating – the ‘natural pretreatment’ I mentioned above.

You’ll remember that I collected seed from two different individual rowans: a tree on Whitwell Moor and a tree above Oaken Clough. I kept each seed collection separate to find out if there is any difference in growth or form between the seedlings of the two trees. I also divided each collection into thirds so that the seeds of both trees will undergo all three of the pretreatment methods recommended by Growing trees and shrubs from seed. I’ve provided an abridged version of each of those methods below:

A. “Easy: natural (outdoor) pretreatment / sowing with medium”

1. Prepare a moisture retaining medium by mixing one part organic material (such as peat or decomposed leaf litter) with one part coarse particle material (such as sand or grit).

2. Mix one part seeds with one part moist medium and place in a container which is open to rainwater at the top and has drainage holes at the base.

3. Pretreatment: place container outdoors for thirty (16 – 30) weeks, positioned so as to receive exposure to seasonal temperature changes whilst avoiding daily temperature fluctuations.

4. Inspect seeds regularly (weekly to fortnightly) and if necessary re-moisten the stratification mix or remove decaying seeds to prevent the spread of fungal infections.

5. Remove and sow germinating seeds (or sow all seeds when 10% have begun to germinate).

A. On Saturday I filled two small plant pots with a one part compost, one part sand mix. Into one pot I mixed a third of the Whitwell Moor seeds; into the other I mixed a third of the Oaken Clough seeds. I’ve placed the two pots outside where they are open to rainwater but should avoid large fluctuations in daily temperature. There they shall remain until spring. Sixteen to thirty weeks from the 10th of October gives us a planting window open from the 30th of January to the 8th of May. I’ll probably plant all of the Set D rowan seeds proper in March.

B. “Moderate: artificial (temperature controlled) pretreatment with medium”

1. Prepare a moisture retaining medium by mixing one part organic material (such as peat or decomposed leaf litter) with one part coarse particle material (such as sand or grit).

2. Mix one part seeds with one part moist medium and place in a container, leaving a gap in the top.

3. Pretreatment: two (2 - 4) weeks warm followed by thirty (16 - 30) weeks cold. Use the main compartment of a refrigerator for the cold phase.

4. Inspect seeds regularly (weekly to fortnightly) and if necessary re-moisten the stratification mix or remove decaying seeds to prevent the spread of fungal infections.

5. Remove and sow germinating seeds (or sow all seeds when 10% have begun to germinate).

B. On Saturday I filled two empty yoghurt pots with a one part compost, one part sand mix. Into one pot I mixed a third of the Whitwell Moor seeds; into the other I mixed a third of the Oaken Clough seeds. I’ve placed the two open-topped pots in the fridge where I’ll ensure that they remain moist until spring.

C. “Skilled: artificial (temperature controlled) pretreatment without medium”

1. Place seeds in a loosely-tied woven bag and rinse / soak in cold (+4°C) water for forty-eight hours to remove any chemical inhibitors.

2. Drain seeds in a sieve to obtain imbibed, surface dry seeds.

3. Transfer seeds to a polythene bag. Leaving an air gap above the seeds, loosely tie the neck of the bag with a finger-sized hole to permit gaseous exchange but retard drying.

4. Pretreatment: two (2 - 4) weeks warm followed by thirty (16 - 30) weeks cold. Use the main compartment of a refrigerator for the cold phase.

5. Inspect seeds regularly (weekly to fortnightly) and if necessary re-moisten the stratification mix or remove decaying seeds to prevent the spread of fungal infections.

6. Remove and sow germinating seeds (or sow all seeds when 10% have begun to germinate).

C. On Saturday the 3rd of October I started separate 48-hour soakings of the Whitwell Moor and Oaken Clough seeds. I rinsed the seeds two or three times during the 48-hours. A week later (last Saturday), I transferred the surface-dry seeds to two small polythene bags and placed them in the fridge.

* * * * *

So there you go. Will the seeds make it through the winter? Will any of them germinate next spring? Will there be any difference between the Whitwell Moor and Oaken Clough seedlings? Which method of pretreatment will be the most successful? Only time will tell!!!


Posted in Dendrology + The treeblog trees





treeblog Set D: collection and pre-pretreatment of rowan seeds

Looking into the canopy of the Whitwell Moor rowan. [Photo: 12 Sep. ‘09]

On Saturday the 12th of September I went for a late summer’s wander with my father. The weather was beautiful, the scenery was stunning, and our route just happened to pass by a couple of special trees: two rowans from which we collected berries to plant for treeblog’s Set D, one on Whitwell Moor and one overlooking Oaken Clough high up in the Ewden Valley.

Berries on the Whitwell Moor rowan. [Photo: 12 Sep. ‘09]

I previously collected berries from the Whitwell Moor rowan in autumn 2008 which I planted as part of treeblog Set C this spring (along with berries from another rowan, downy birch seeds, and sweet chestnuts), then replanted as Set C-r on the 12th of May. None of those seeds have germinated to date, presumably because I never pretreated them before planting them - something I didn’t realise was necessary. Without the pretreatment they still ought to germinate, but a whole year later rather than in the same year like I expected. So treeblog is expecting rowans from both Set C and Set D to germinate in spring 2010!

The Whitwell Moor rowan on the day of my Set D berry collection: the 12th of September 2009.

I discovered the Oaken Clough rowan this summer on the 18th of July. When I first lay peepers on it I knew that it had the biggest girth of any rowan I’d ever seen. I measured it on the berry run: 3.4 m (11 ft 2 in.) in circumference at about shin height. That gives a diameter of 1.1 m (3 ft 7 in.). These figures might not sound very impressive, but for a rowan they are well impressive. Unfortunately, this monster of a rowan has suffered a catastrophic collapse. Most of the collapsed boughs nevertheless remain alive, and since this incident the tree has put out a lot of new growth. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t keep on going for many years to come.

The Oaken Clough rowan. Massive yet collapsed. [Photo: 18 Jul. ‘09]

After I’d picked my berries, I sort of forgot about them for a couple of weeks. I just couldn’t stomach the upcoming task…

The Oaken Clough rowan berries. The black ones have gone bad. [Photo: 20 Sep. ‘09].

Then last week I got around to removing the seeds from the berries. This was a long, time-consuming process. I estimate it took me four or five hours, and that was only working with about half of the berries! The other half had gone rotten because I’d waited so long to act. I should have removed all of the seeds when the berries were fresh, but then ten hours of seed extraction would have sent me pathologically insane. Whatever, the outcome is I have plenty of seeds.

The Whitwell Moor rowan berries. [Photo: 20 Sep. ‘09].

This afternoon I removed any bits of husk still attached to the seeds. How nice and clean they look!

The clean extracted rowan seeds earlier today. The Oaken Clough rowan’s seeds appear to be slightly larger than those of the Whitwell Moor rowan.

Right. Now the seeds are all ready for pretreatment. To improve my chances of Set D success, I’ll be trying out not one, not two, but three methods of pretreatment. My two piles of seeds will be split into thirds, and each pair of thirds will undergo a different method of pretreatment. These methods are laid out in a Forestry Commission practice guide, and an upcoming post will detail what they are. The pretreatment has actually already begun for one pair of thirds: they are currently being soaked for 48 hours to rinse off any germination-inhibiting chemicals!

N.B. As each of the three Set D species are being planted on different days, I’m going to describe the rowans as belonging to Set D-r, the beeches – which were planted on Wednesday - as belonging to Set D-b, and the sweet chestnuts – which I have yet to collect – as belonging to Set D-c. That’s just to make things easier when I say blah blah blah Set D-r, Day XX.


* * * * *

The fortieth edition of the Festival of the Trees is over at local ecologist. Go read!


Posted in Gone for a walk + The treeblog trees





A late summer's wander

Dyer’s mazegill (Phaeolus schweinitzii) at the base of a Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris).

This post shall send prose to his room and welcome poetry into the drawing room for a brandy. Let me spin thee the tale of last Saturday:


A Late Summer’s Wander

Late summer’s wander Saturday
Into the Peak our path did lay
On Whitwell Moor ‘neath a rowan, halted
To fill a bag wi’ red berries wanted
Through t’ first wood and up we walked
There wa’ no acorns on t’ Lonely Oak

Cresting t’ hill we entered t’ Wood
Where Millstones lie; it were right good
To find at t’ foot of a Scots Pinus
A great and gnarly yellow fungus
Over t’ lane and out on Thorpe’s Brow
T’ sky seemed somehow bigger now

We strode past ruins of t’ last war
Tanks aimed at targets high up on t’ moor
Long out ahead rose Pike Lowe
A cairn for t’ dead, or so I trow
For much of t’ way rose hummocky grasses
Eek heather and bracken and bogs and mosses
It hurt to see the cairn ruined
A wanton act: a villain’s doing

Now heading south across the heath
Our destination: watersmeet
Ewden Force wa’ running low
As fine a sight as in full flow
Where rowans glow wi’ crimson berries
And for a while t’ walker tarries

In Stainery Clough we traced a road
An ancient trail the river fords
O’er Oaken Clough a giant sags
Of berries now two heaving bags
A rowan great but broke asunder
When it tore it must ha’ thundered

Heath and bracken for miles a’ more
Bare shanks soon are feeling sore
Past t’ shooting lodge and Broomhead Hall
The veteran chestnut of Wigtwizzle
Summer’s fading fast and autumn’s near
Here’s hoping t’ rowans grow next year


A holly (Ilex aquifolium): the last tree before Pike Lowe.

A stunning berry-laden rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) near Ewden Force.

And another. The rowans around here, while absolutely covered with berries, had more or less lost all of their leaves already. Rowan berries seem to be much more abundant and redder than usual this year. I’m loving it.

A shady pool in Oaken Clough. Danger! Midges!

Looking across the Ewden Valley to Thorpe’s Brow on our way home.


Posted in Gone for a walk + The treeblog trees





page 1 of 1








www.flickr.com
treeblog's items Go to treeblog's photostream