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Miscellany

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The Groaning Tree of Badesley

I recently came across an interesting passage on a tree that groaned in a dusty tome called Old England: A Pictorial Museum (published by Charles Knight in 1845). The author recounts William Gilpin’s sketch of a rather singular elm from his older and dustier tome Remarks on Forest Scenery; and other Woodland Views (first published in 1791). Here is Gilpin’s original description:

The next tree I shall exhibit from New-forest, is the groaning-tree of Badesley; a village about two miles from Lymington. The history of the groaning-tree is this. About forty years ago, a cottager, who lived near the centre of the village, heard frequently a strange noise, behind his house, like that of a person in extreme agony. Soon after, it caught the attention of his wife, who was then confined to her bed. She was a timorous woman, and being greatly alarmed, her husband endeavoured to persuade her, that the noise she heard, was only the bellowing of the stags in the forest. By degrees, however, the neighbours, on all sides heard it; and the thing began to be much talked of. It was by this time plainly discovered, that the groaning noise proceeded from an elm, which grew at the end of the garden. It was a young, vigorous tree; and to all appearance perfectly sound.

In a few weeks the fame of the groaning tree was spread far and wide; and people from all parts flocked to hear it. Among others, it attracted the curiosity of the late prince, and princess of Wales, who resided at that time for the advantage of a sea-bath, at Pilewell, the seat of sir James Worsley, which stood within a quarter of a mile of the groaning-tree.

Tho the country-people assigned many superstitious causes for this strange phenomenon, the naturalist could assign no physical one, that was in any degree satisfactory. Some thought, it was owing to the twisting and friction of the roots. Others thought it proceeded from water, which had collected in the body of the tree - or perhaps from pent air. But no cause that was alledged, appeared equal to the effect. In the mean time, the tree did not always groan; sometimes disappointing it’s visitants: yet no cause could be assigned for it’s temporary cessations, either from seasons, or weather. If any difference was observed; it was thought to groan least, when the weather was wet; and most when it was clear, and frosty: but the sound at all times seemed to arise from the root.

Thus the groaning-tree continued an object of astonishment, during the space of eighteen, or twenty months, to all the country around: and for the information of distant parts a pamphlet was drawn up, containing a particular account of all the circumstances relating to it.

At length, the owner of it, a gentleman of the name of Forbes, making too rash an experiment to discover the cause, bored a hole in it’s trunk. After this it never groaned. It was then rooted up, with a farther view to make a discovery: but still nothing appeared, which led to any investigation of the cause. It was universally however believed, that there was no trick in the affair: but that some natural cause really existed, tho never understood.


Posted in Miscellany + Notable trees





The Plantations on the Estate of Wentworth (1888)

I recently came across a report entitled The Plantations on the Estate of Wentworth, Yorkshire in Volume 12 of the Transactions of the Royal Scottish Arboricultural Society, published by that Society in 1888. (You can find a full copy of the book at archive.org.) The report provides a fascinating first-hand account of estate forestry at the end of the nineteenth century - and the proximity of Wentworth to my hometown makes this of especial personal interest. The devastating effects of industrial pollution are given prominence, and the innocuous line that “For underwood and game cover we find… none take so freely to the soil as the Rhododendron” should ring ominously for every conservationist.

I’ve reproduced almost the whole report here. Even though it makes for a much longer than usual blog post, it’s a rewarding read and well worth your time. [Notes in square brackets are my own.]


The Plantations on the estate of Wentworth, Yorkshire. By George Dodds, Forester, Wentworth, Rotherham, Yorkshire.

In this Report I propose giving some details of the nature, extent, and management of the woodlands upon the estate of the Right Hon. The Earl Fitzwilliam, K.G. [William Wentworth-Fitzwilliam, b. 1815 d. 1902, who was MP for Malton 1837-1841 and 1846-1847 and MP for Wicklow 1847-1857 before becoming the 6th Earl], at Wentworth, Yorkshire. [The famous Wentworth Woodhouse was the Fitzwilliams’ stately home.] The estate is situate in the southern part of the West Riding, and extends to close upon 60,000 acres; the woods and plantations occupying about 5640 acres of that area.



The difficulty now to contend with in growing trees in this district is the amount of smoke in the atmosphere, and any one not accustomed to iron and coal mining districts can scarcely conceive the damage done to vegetation by the smoke and fumes from the mines, and also from the coke ovens which are in constant operation in the locality. In making new plantations or in renovating the old woods upon the estate, much care has to be taken to use the species of trees upon which the smoke seems to have least effect. These are principally trees having a smoothish bark, such as ash, beech, birch, Spanish chestnut, horse chestnut, lime, wych elm, and sycamore.

A considerable quantity of larch has been planted of late years, but after reaching a height of ten to twelve feet the trees are gradually dying off, chiefly on account of the unsuitability of the soil for the growth of larch, but also in some measure from the surrounding atmosphere being impregnated with noxious vapours, which are injurious to plant life. I notice the only trees of the pine tribe that seem to thrive here are the Scots fir, Pinus sylvestris, the Austrian pine, P. Austriaca [Pinus nigra subsp. nigra var. nigra, a subspecies of black pine], and the Corsican pine, P. Larcicio [Pinus nigra subsp. salzmannii var. corsicana, another black pine subspecies].

Many of the newer conifers, especially Cedrus Deodara and Wellingtonia gigantea [Sequoiadendron giganteum - giant redwood a.k.a. Sierra redwood], have been planted in the Home woods and Park, but after lingering for a few years they have mostly all died out, and those that are alive present a very sickly appearance.


1. The Home Park.

Beginning with the Home Park, which extends to about 2000 acres, we estimate the area under wood, including some plantations that lie contiguous to the Park, at 1000 acres, of various ages. … Some of the trees in the Park have attained to large dimensions, chiefly oak, and it is currently reported here that some of the older and larger specimens are the remnants of the ancient natural forest, which I have no doubt once stretched across from Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire to this part of the country.

I regret to say that many of the largest of the old trees are dead, and more dying every year, some of them containing from 400 to 500 cubic feet of timber. In fact, we felled some last season which contained 430 feet of timber when measured. It is a pity to see so many hoary-headed monarchs of the forest standing dead or dying side by side. They well exemplify Dryden’s beautiful lines:-


“The Monarch Oak, the Patriarch of trees,
Shoots rising up, and spreads by low degrees;
Three centuries he grows, and three he stays
Supreme in State, and in three more decays.”

The earliest planting here of any note was done by the first Marquis of Rockingham [Thomas Watson-Wentworth, b. 1693 d. 1750], who lived about 180 years ago. It is rather a curious fact that even the trees that appear to be about 100 years’ growth, have not the least appearance of the older trees, as they are now showing symptoms of premature decay, by the stunted and sickly appearance of the foliage that they put on every season. This I attribute in a large degree to the prevalence of smoke and noxious fumes, which have arisen in this locality within the last hundred years or so.

There are some very fine rows of lime-tree and elm in the Park, planted in the same form as the Duke of Marlborough drew up his troops at the battle of Blenheim. The lime-trees are all intact, and are admired by every one, but a great many of the elms have been blown down from time to time, and not having been replaced, the gaps spoil the general effect. These trees are now about 170 years old.

… For underwood and game cover we find Rhododendron ponticum the most useful, although we plant several other sorts, such as blackthorn, privet, and hazel, but none take so freely to the soil as the Rhododendron.

[Ordnance Survey mapping shows plenty of woods in and around Wentworth Park, with some even including ‘plantation’ in their name, e.g. Cortworth Field Plantation and Mausoleum Plantation. Google Maps shows two lines of trees ‘facing’ each other (see below) – are these the remains of the ‘Battle of Blenheim’, or just a northern approach avenue to the big house? More research and a visit is required!]



2. Rainbro’ Park.

This wood may be said to be one of the Home plantations, as it lies immediately outside of the Park, and extends to 200 acres, varying in age from 6 to 150 years. …

The original crop has been oak, but as it was showing symptoms of decay, the greater portion of the old trees were cut down a few years ago, leaving only a few of the healthiest and best for the sake of appearance in the landscape. … A great many of the old trees are dying off and should be removed, which process will now require extra care, to avoid much damage to the healthy growing young trees.

[Rainborough Park is still a good-sized wood on OS mapping.]


3. Hood Hill.

It is about 80 years old… Some very promising specimens of beech and Spanish chestnut are growing here. …

[Today the OS shows 3 woods around Hood Hill, including Hood Hill Plantation.]


4. Low Woods.

This plantation extends to 180 acres, and is about 150 years old. … This wood has suffered severely from being in the neighbourhood of iron-works, which, however, are now done away with. I have advised to clear the greater portion of the present crop away and replant the ground with the most suitable kinds of trees.

[OS shows a Low Wood and adjacent Lowe Wood two or three miles north-west of Tankersley.]


5. Tankersley Woods.

This district comprises a parish and township lying at a high elevation, and is consequently much exposed. The highest part is about 600 feet above sea-level, and lies very exposed to the west wind. The woodlands extend to about 600 acres, and the trees vary in age from 10 to 70 years. … The younger woods have been planted in narrow belts, and mostly on land which has been occupied by old pit workings… This is also a smoke infested district, one of the largest iron-works in Yorkshire being upon the land, and also an extensive colliery. We are kept continually felling dead trees, and I am of the opinion that, if the smoke continues, very few live trees will be found in the course of a few years.

[There are still several woods around the small villages of Tankersley and Pilley, although an industrial estate and three major roads, including the M1, are now prominent in the area.]


6. Swinton Woods.

The woodlands in this district extend to about 300 acres. The trees are chiefly oak. …

The woods in the district have all the appearance of having been well attended to, and thinning has been judiciously practised. The great majority of the trees are well grown and healthy, and exhibit all the signs of attaining to valuable dimensions.

[Swinton now forms an urban conurbation with the towns of Wath-upon-Dearne, Mexborough and Rawmarsh; however, there are still a few small woods mostly to the south-west of town, many of which have ‘plantation’ in the name, e.g. Blackamoor Inn Plantation and Long Plantation.]


7. Eccleshall Wood.

This is a large wood extending about 450 acres, and lies to the south-east of the town of Sheffield. Portions of it have already been taken up for building sites, and in a few years hence, I have no doubt it will be extensively used for that purpose, lying as it does within easy reach of such an important and progressive town.

… It is moderately sheltered, and I believe is also an outlying part of the ancient Nottinghamshire Forests. The crop is oak, and must be of great age, as all the trees have the appearance of being grown from old stools.

The oak is not healthy, and shows symptoms of dying off in the course of a few years. Some planting has been done in a few of the openest parts, and consists of larch, Scots fir, sycamore, Spanish chestnut, ash, elm, mountain ash, birch, and beech, and all promise to grow well. The ages of the recent plantings are from 12 to 4 years. The great difficulty to contend against is the brackens and other rank herbage that grow upon this land, which entail a great amount of labour and expense in keeping the young plants clear. It has been found advantageous to cut the brackens in their early growth, as the constant bleeding weakens them much.

[Ecclesall Woods are today owned by Sheffield City Council and cover about 350 acres.]


8. Tinsley Park Wood.

This wood lies intermediate between the towns of Rotherham and Sheffield, and receives the full effect of the smoke, sulphur, and other fumes, no matter from which direction the wind may blow.

… The extent is 350 acres, age unknown, but to all appearance the wood is natural. The crop is oak, with a few birch that have grown up naturally. The greater portion of this wood is, consequently, a matter of some consideration for the owner, as to whether to keep it up as a wood or not? It is completely surrounded by public works, which entail great difficulties in the matter of planting. If replanting is undertaken here, I have recommended to plant sycamore, ash, birch, beech, and wych elm, as the trees most likely to grow to anything approaching timber size in such a locality.

[The ancient and historic Tinsley Park Wood is no longer with us; in its place we have Sheffield Airport, Tinsley Park Golf Course, the A630, and a big Morrisons. It was coal-mining, however, that brought about the wood’s destruction.]


9. Edlington Wood.

This wood extends to 510 acres… This is one of the most valuable woods upon the estate, and is no doubt a part of the remains of the Nottinghamshire Forests, as it is situate close to the borders of the counties of York and Nottingham. Some yews in the centre of the wood are of immense size and great age. The are still growing, and very healthy, and may at one time supplied Robin Hood and his merry men with bows and arrows.

The crop is principally natural oak, having a few ash, beech, and larch mixed through it which were planted about 60 years ago. The trees are generally healthy, but in some instances the older oaks show symptoms of decay, chiefly in the top branches, which may be attributed to the repeated cutting over, and springing up again from the old stools. The old oaks contain an average from 40 to 70 cubic feet. This wood has been worked upon the coppice principle. There are several miles of fine drives through it in various directions.

[Edlington Wood still exists, albeit adjacent to the M18.]


10. Bradfield Plantation.

An extensive tract of moorland extending to about 1800 acres. This district lies at an altitude of about 900 feet above sea-level… A ravine traverses a great portion of the wood, and upon the slopes, on both of its sides, the trees have done well.

The first planting was begun here in 1817 with 45 acres, and the whole extent was finished in 1830. The crop is principally larch and Scots fir, with a few spruce. The earliest planted parts are fast coming to maturity, hundreds of trees dying off every year. We are now contemplating clearing it off in sections, and replanting.

An experiment was tried here in a part where the soil is deepest and best. About 40 acres were sown with oak acorns; these have grown, but never attained to any size or value. The largest trees after 60 years’ growth may contain from three to four cubic feet, whilst many of the larch grown beside them contain 25 feet of wood. This has been a very profitable investment for the owner, as the land is chiefly moor, and of very little value for any other purpose. The larch grown here has the reputation of being very tough and durable. It has been mostly sold at one shilling per foot, at a distance of nine miles from a railway station or the nearest market. The whole of this wood is enclosed with a substantial stone wall.

[I have driven through this wood countless times. A couple of years agoI noticed that a large compartment had been clearfelled. This work was carried out as part of the ‘Bradfield Moorland Regeneration Scheme’1 – I have a bit more to say about this in a note at the end of this post.]


Management.

I cannot say that the woods upon this estate have been managed upon the most scientific principles, still they will compare favourably with most other extensive woodlands in the district.

The woods No. 7, 8, and 9, mentioned in this report, have been treated as coppice woods, or as they are termed in the district, “spring woods.” The routine of management of these woods is to have a fall every year; so that all the ground may be gone over in twenty-one years.

The timber is sold standing, by public auction, in early spring. The trees are all previously marked, measured, and valued by the woodman. The purchase pays all the expenses for felling, peeling, cutting, and clearing the underwood, etc. In a book for the purpose, the reserved trees, and trees for sale, are all noted. No tree is measured that does not contain ten cubic feet of timber. Under that size they are classed as poles. The system of measuring is as follows. The men are supplied with six rods, each six feet long, with ferrules to slip the rods into as they are passed up the tree. One man uses the rods, another the tape for the girth, and a third enters the number of tree, the length, and the girth into the book. It is surprising how near, by this simple method, they can go to the contents of each tree.

It is the custom to peel the trees standing, which is certainly an advantage in getting the bark earlier cured, as no time is lost in felling. I am of the opinion that it is also better for the timber, as the longer it stands after being barked, it is always becoming more seasoned.

Many would perhaps object to the purchaser cutting down the wood, but in this case it is no objection, as the woodmen are the proprietor’s servants; the purchase agreeing to pay for the working of wood at prices stated in the Rules of Sale.

The usual contract prices for working the wood are as follows:- for felling, per ton of 40 feet, 3s.; barking, per ton, 30s.; cutting and ranking of cordwood, 4s. per cord; stakes per score, 3d.; and so on, the woodmen providing their own tools.

In the Home plantations and Park much the same system of piece-work is carried out, especially in felling, barking, and similar operations, the same price being paid as in the “spring woods,” but in all the cases the wood is felled before it is sold, which is mostly done by private bargain.

The younger plantations have been partially thinned, but no system of pruning has been adopted. The consequence is, that most of them are found full of straggling, lob-sided trees, which might have been straight and well-grown if proper attention had been paid in due time to the pruning of them.

Planting was formerly done by contract; letting it to some of the working men, at so much per 1000 for making the pits and putting in the plants. This is a system which I do not approve, and consequently it has been put a stop to.

There are two nurseries, of about three acres each, upon different parts of the estate, for keeping up a supply of young trees, and plants for underwood. Seedlings are generally bough and kept a year or two, as the case may be, and in this way the young plants become to a certain extent acclimatised before being planted out permanently. Plants grown in these nurseries lift with abundance of roots, and when planted out they soon lay hold of the ground, and begin to grow with vigour at an early period. In this and other ways, they are an important advantage upon an estate.




1 The Bradfield Moorland Regeneration Scheme is a scheme whereby a significant proportion of ‘Bradfield Plantation’ will be clearfelled over a three-year period, reverting the land back to its historic moorland state. I’ve plucked the salient points from the Scheme’e environmental statement, which can be found in its entirety on the Forestry Commission England’s website. The woods and surrounding moorland, by the way, are still owned by Fitzwilliam (Wentworth) Estates.


[Under the heading of ‘Historic Landscape Context’]
Thomas Jeffrys’ Map of 1775 shows the study area to be open moorland labelled as “Hallfield Moor”, and there is no indication of tree cover in the vicinity. The land in the study area was allotted and enclosed by a Parliamentary Enclosure Act of 1826, which shows a managed plantation/woodland in place. So, it seems the Wentworth Estate converted part of the moorland to plantation sometime between 1775 and 1826. … The beech and oak plantations date from around 1900 and the bulk of the conifers were re-planted between 1923 and 1956.

[Under the heading of ‘Overall Project Objectives’]
The revised Bradfield Moorland Regeneration Scheme proposes to restore approximately 69ha of existing conifer plantation to a mosaic of dry dwarf-scrub heathland, wet heath and mire communities, and native broadleaved woodland to be managed as a grouse moor, retaining 136ha of existing conifers and semi-natural broadleaved woodland within the study area.


Posted in Miscellany





Five years of treeblog

Low cloud glides over a forest of Scots pine and on up the Ryvoan Pass (November 22nd, 2011).

Today is treeblog’s fifth anniversary! Here’s to the next five years!


* * * * *

And to coincide with the anniversary, I’ve given the layout and design of the blog a little update. There’s a new row of links above the header which remove a lot of the clutter from the sidebar. The archive table now has its own page, so you can revisit any old month you fancy. The list of tags has been refreshed and relocated to a new page which it shares with a new list of categories. There are only nine categories (which I intend to refine, and I welcome your suggestions on this) – think of them as ‘super-tags’. The blogroll and list of links also has a separate page now, with some new additions that you might like to try out. Aside from that, not a lot has changed.

Although photographs are now 64% bigger. I think that’s a decent improvement!


Posted in Miscellany





Autumn colours






Posted in Miscellany





Chimney & ash

I like driving down country lanes and discovering new long-cuts. A couple of weekends ago on one of my trail-blazing runs I happened upon a new view of a chimney I have passed hundreds of times. Instead of some old stack at a boring, old paper mill seen from the main road in the valley bottom, it was suddenly a weird, brick obelisk all shrouded in trees seen viewed from across the valley. I was impressed to return the next day with my camera. The trees in the background are part of Wharncliffe Woods but the trees in the foreground are a single row at the bottom of a field; in between is the valley bottom with the main road, the paper mill, and the River Don.

This nice ash (Fraxinus excelsior) stood close to where I took chimney pic. I couldn’t resist a few shots of the crown!


Posted in Miscellany





Forest forensics

You might not notice anything special about this scene at first glance, but something caught my eye as I drove past. I noticed that a branch had come down, although upon closer inspection that wasn’t everything…

Here’s how I think it happened:

This pine (not a Scots pine, Pinus sylvestris – its needles were too long) had fallen (blown?) over…

…and smashed into a roadside horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum), breaking off half of the tree at a weak union between co-dominant stems with included bark. The resulting nasty wound can be seen in the top-right of the photo; the guilty pine is in the bottom-left.

The half of the chestnut that snapped out fell across the road and hit a tall wild cherry (Prunus avium), breaking a couple of high-up branches.

After hitting the horse chestnut, the pine tree carried on falling across the road. Here is the top section lying on the other side of the road; the middle section that would have blocked the road has been removed.

The pine struck a second horse chestnut on the far side of the road to the first, smashing through a few branches (the lowest in the photograph was probably substantial enough to have been called a co-dominant stem).

I took this photo sat atop the top section of the pine, looking across the road to the pine’s stump and the first chestnut that it damaged. The large wound where the chestnut used to fork can be seen maybe fifteen feet up the stem.

This carnage occurred sometime between Sunday afternoon and Tuesday afternoon. Obviously somebody has been out to clear away the fallen branches and reopen the road, but no attempt has been made to clean up the wounds. The first of the horse chestnuts really wants felling because of the danger it poses to users of the road.

By coincidence, all of this happened just a few metres away from where I was photographing fungal fruiting bodies on a cherry tree on Sunday afternoon – the subject of the previous post in fact! According to its name-tag, that cherry tree was No. 0852. The trees in this post were tagged as 0855, 0856 and 0858 – the cherry, first chestnut mentioned and second chestnut mentioned respectively (I couldn’t see a tag on the pine). Isn’t that funny?

So just to recap how I pieced together the sequence of destruction, I’ve scribbled all over the first photo at the top of this post. The blue hoops ring the leaning pine stump (right of the road) and its detached, recumbent upper section (left of the road). As it fell it struck horse chestnut No. 0856 (red) and horse chestnut No. 0858 (orange). Half of chestnut 0856 was broken off and fell across the road, striking wild cherry No. 0855 (pink). The resulting wounds of 0855, 0856 and 0858 are all circled. Carnage!


Posted in Miscellany





Festival of the Trees 56

Welcome to the Fifty-Sixth Edition of the Festival of the Trees! You’ve come here because we share a common interest in trees, you and I. Yet how we each think of trees – how we see them – is something unique to us as individuals.

In the main, I have an interest in the ecology of trees tempered with a deep appreciation of their aesthetics, be the trees stand-alone subjects or included within their context of habitats and ecosystems and landscapes. So I like reading facts and taking photographs. I know that some people are of a spiritual nature, and their interests in trees lie chiefly in this vein. Others are more artistic, and express their interest through drawings and paintings, or for the literary-minded, poems and stories. You get the idea. Everyone does trees differently, and each month when I browse through the Festival of the Trees I get to see trees as other people see them. That must be a good thing.

For this edition of the Festival I have organised every submission as best I could into five broad categories: poetry & stories; conservation & environmental science; enjoyment & learning; spirituality; and visual arts. I hoped it might bring some order to the presentation of twenty-odd quite disparate and wide-ranging submissions. This was obviously a subjective exercise, so I hope you won’t be upset if you disagree with how I have categorised your submission! Anyhoo, let the festivities begin!

Poetry & stories

There are two poems to Festival 56. In his poem Fall at Highbanks, Steve Meador evokes pleasant autumnal scenes. Conversely, the protagonist in Charlie Hughes’ poem Ash to Ash sees only death in the fall as all around his workshop trees are ravaged by the emerald ash borer.

Dorothee of virtualnotes responds to the question ‘What do trees do at midnight?’ with an image, Nightwood, coupled with a curiously-punctuated short story, H.owl. The protagonist of Stella Pierides’ short story, The bird’s eye view, who we witness clinging to a eucalyptus tree for dear life in a flood, finds relief from her ordeal in the form of a bird. Stella also shares a photograph of a recumbent tree trunk that dreams of a more aquatic existence.

Inspired by the art of Carianne Mack Garside, Susan of . Spinning . is writing a short story for every day of the year. No. 21 (scroll down for it) - Finding New Patterns - tells of patterns that emerge from the black-and-white world of snow-covered trees dancing at night.

Conservation & environmental science

Tracy McVeigh, writing in the The Observer, tells of a new and disturbing twist in the ongoing story of sudden oak death. When the disease arrived in the UK a decade ago, scientists feared devastation amongst our native oak population (a different strain has killed millions of oaks in California). Thankfully the outbreak never lived up to the hype, but last year the disease began to rapidly infect and kill larch trees – now the race is on to stop it.

Writing at Peaceful Societies, Bruce Bonta details how the local forest wildlife and the indigenous people, the Kadar, of the Anamalai Hills in India have been affected by major developments in the past year, including the establishment of two new tiger reserves in which the Kadar have become actively involved.

I strongly believe in the importance of having plenty of trees growing in urban areas, and I know that Jacqueline of Saving Our Trees shares this view. She contributes a comprehensive article on various computer modelling systems and how they can be used to ‘calculate the value of a single tree or the value of the trees across a whole city’ – where the value may be a cash figure or something like the amount of carbon dioxide sequestered – and how these software tools are leading to trees getting recognition from local government as being more valuable than they previously realised.

At My French Forest, Michael has produced an extensive article on the endangered old-growth forests of Canada’s Pacific Coast and the fight to save them. The Government of British Columbia argues that the forests aren’t endangered, but a century and a half of continuous logging has exacted a heavy toll.

In the second Wide World of Trees Video Podcast, Gene Basler of The Wide World of Trees speaks generally on the subjects of tree activism and tree ownership, around the example of a dam authority clearing a field of trees in a Los Angeles suburb to provide storage space for sludge.

Enjoyment & learning

Rebecca of A Year With the Trees tells how she patiently learnt to identify the black cherry in winter, starting with the beautiful flowers that blossom in the springtime. Meanwhile, Laura has been hunting the black poplar. She has written a fine article regarding the tree at Patiopatch that takes in a visit to a solitary specimen in London’s Russell Square. A native of Britain and Ireland, the black poplar is also one of our rarest trees and the remaining population is sadly threatened by interbreeding with imported poplar species.

At yourfireant’s posterous Teresa shares a gallery of photos of trees in her town. Muddy Mark of Oxygen Grows On Trees revisits the first plantation he planted after joining Millson Forestry Service in 1999 to take a ‘cookie’.

Jarrett provides a study of Angophora costata (a close relative of Eucalyptus) at Creature of the Shade and captures the spectacle of their shedding of bark – ‘as though preparing [their] own pyre’. Half a world away, Rebecca of Rebecca in the Woods profiles the Hercules’ club or toothache tree and ponders the origin of its spines.

Reading about an old weeping beech got Elidad of Tree Care Tips thinking: ‘How often [do] we consider trees to have “history”? …how many of us have that special tree that we hold on to with fond nostalgia?’ JSK of Anybody Seen My Focus? shows us a well-established pond that she came across, held back behind an impressive beaver dam – one of the tallest she has seen.

At Into My Own, Kitty has had her camera out in the woods just after the rain – ‘the droplets drip off the branches like jewels.’ Silvia of Windywillow has a whole series of photos recording the heavy frosts that cloaked the trees around her home. A separate series is devoted to her flowering witch hazel and its expanding coat of jagged crystals – ‘such a happy tree in the middle of winter!’ Frosty days indeed.

Joy, who lives in The Little House in the Not-So-Big Woods, takes us up close and personal with a tree that looks suspiciously like it’s trying to get up and crawl away. It’ll struggle to move anywhere though with that massive taproot!

Spirituality

Only one! At Writings from Wild Soul, Wrensong tells how she has been thinking of the trees, ‘listening down into the roots, into the winter dreams of the Rooted Ones, remembering dreams of the Great Tree, the One Tree…’

Visual arts

Jasmine of Natures Whispers, inspired by contributions to the previous Festival of the Trees (hosted by Jasmine), has ‘wrapped’ some of the trees in her back garden – ‘It will be interesting to see how the passing seasons will decorate these cottons.’ In a separate post (which includes a link to some impressive ‘tree shaping’ art), Jasmine tells of how one submission regarding a collaborative project to construct a willow yurt has sent her imagination running wild!

Ester Wilson of Daily Drawings shares a sketch she made at the park of a bizarre scene unfolding beneath the trees. Over at Loose and Leafy, Lucy is reminded of an unorthodox portrait of the Prince of Wales by her photographs of silhouettes in the hedgerow – and describing the impression the painting made, she wonders if it has influenced her style of photography.

* * * * *

There we go. Thank-you for visiting – I hope you’ve found something of interest to you here. I’d also like to thank all who contributed to this edition of the Festival of the Trees, and I thank Dave, Pablo and Jade for allowing me to host the Festival for a third time.

The next edition of the Festival – No. 57, the March 2011 edition – will hosted by Rebecca of Rebecca in the Woods. Please send all your submissions to rebecca [dot] deatsman [at] gmail [dot] com. The theme is open; the deadline is the 27th of February.

It’s been emotional!


Posted in Miscellany





treeblog to host next month’s Festival of the Trees: your submissions please!

The upcoming fifty-sixth edition of the premier tree-flavoured blog carnival The Festival of the Trees will be published here at treeblog on the 1st of February. To make this edition a success I am relying on all you fine folks to submit for inclusion within the Festival almost anything appertaining to trees and their associated environments and ecosystems including but not limited to your writings, musings and jottings (factual or fictitious, scientific or spiritual), bark rubbings, photography, artwork, poetry, news pieces, songs, videos and bark rubbings. As well as your own work, feel free to send in the work of others if you’ve taken a shine to it.

Please aim your submissions at mail [at] treeblog [dot] co [dot] uk, making sure that Festival of the Trees or FOTT is contained within the header field and that the link you send is a ‘permanent’ one. The deadline is the 30th of January, so that gives you all a good three-and-a-half weeks to have those submissions flying in. There’s no theme for this edition, so don’t hold back!


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This month’s edition of the Festival is now online at Natures Whispers - go enjoy!


Posted in Miscellany





Three

The power of three. Oak stems in Pot House Wood: an old coppice?


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The fifty-fourth edition of the Festival of the Trees is online now at Windywillow. Go read!


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I’ve been asked to feature “the growth and development of [a] unique species as a festive gesture… representative of a huge community effort”.

The Knitted Christmas Tree is over 15 feet high, has over 4,000 knitted leaves, nearly 2,000 knitted decorations and the tub, bark, grass, parcels and star are all knitted. It was made to raise funds in support of John Grooms Court in Norwich [which] is run by the charity Livability and provides accommodation for 20 physically disabled young adults.

Find out more on YouTube and Facebook.


Posted in Miscellany





Boletus impolitus

After a summer hiatus, treeblog is back. Not back with any trees just yet, but back with a fungus that lives in a cosy mycorrhizal relationship with trees.

Jordan’s Encyclopedia of Fungi of Britain and Europe describes Boletus impolitus as “infrequent or rare”, occurring in “small groups on soil under broad-leaf trees, favouring oak, often on mown grass.” This particular mushroom was growing beneath a handful of silver birches (Betula pendula) on the lawn, but it was on its own.

Those three photos were taken yesterday, but I’ve seen these on our lawn before. The photo below shows the tubular flesh of one of a pair of Boletus impolitus mushrooms occupying more or less the same spot three years ago on the 5th of August 2007. I wonder if all three mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of the same individual…

Disclaimer: While I am 95% confident this time, there’s always a chance that I’ll err when I ID a fungus!


Posted in Miscellany





Old photos, new IDs: setting the record straight

When I posted this photo back in September 2009 (‘A late summer’s wander’) I was unsure what species of fungus I’d snapped. Chicken o’ the woods (Laetiporus sulphureus) was what I was leaning towards, but I wasn’t 100%. Yesterday I chanced upon a familiar-looking specimen in my mate’s guidebook, Mushrooms and Toadstools of Britain & Europe (a Collins Nature Guide). I can now exclusively reveal that the fungus in my photo is a… dyer’s mazegill - Phaeolus schweinitzii (deprecated synonym: Phaeolus spadiceus) - a polypore fungus that forms fruiting bodies on the roots or bases of conifers such as pines, spruces, firs and larches. My specimen was growing at the base of a Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) in Millstones Wood.

I first posted this photo of a ‘caterpillar’ eating one of the treeblog Set A grey alders (Alnus incana) in October 2009 (‘Two species of caterpillar on the grey alders’). I had no idea what species it was but I believed it to be a caterpillar – i.e. the larval form of a moth or butterfly. I discovered a few weeks ago, again by chance, that this attractive creepy-crawly is actually the larval form of the hazel sawfly a.k.a. birch sawfly (Croesus septentrionalis). The larvae feed on hazel, birch and alder leaves and strike this curvaceous pose when disturbed. Interesting fact: true caterpillars have five pairs of prolegs or less, but hazel sawfly larvae have more than five pairs (see this forum page).


Posted in Miscellany





Old wood-burning poem. FotT #47. Earth Day / Arbor Day photography contest winner.

Here’s an unattributed old poem I found on the internets a while back:

Beech-wood fires burn bright and clear
If the logs are kept a year;
Store your beech for Christmastide
With new-cut holly laid beside;
Chestnut's only good, they say,
If for years 'tis stored away;
Birch and fir-wood burn too fast
Blaze too bright and do not last;
Flames from larch will shoot up high,
Dangerously the sparks will fly;
But ash-wood green and ash-wood brown
Are fit for a Queen with a golden crown.

Oaken logs, if dry and old,
Keep away the winter's cold;
Poplar gives a bitter smoke,
Fills your eyes and makes you choke;
Elm-wood burns like churchyard mould,
E'en the very flames are cold;
It is by the Irish said;
Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread,
Apple-wood will scent the room,
Pear-wood smells like flowers in bloom;
But ash-wood wet and ash-wood dry
A King may warm his slippers by.

Anon.


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This month’s Festival of the Trees is up, hosted by Jasmine of Natures Whispers. It’s a brilliant edition: go read!


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The winner of EarlyForest.com’s 2010 Earth Day / Arbor Day photography competition has been announced: Karen Hibbert of trees, if you please. You can admire the worthy winner, of a scene in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York, here.


Posted in Miscellany





The Bernhard Langer Tree Shot

A couple of Mondays ago I was at Fulford Golf Club (near York) for a stumpgrinding course with a legendary forester. As we arrived at the course, he told us a brilliant story about a famous golfer who was playing a tournament there a few years ago. On one of the holes his ball got stuck in a tree, so he climbed up the tree, took his shot, and went on to place second!

Here’s a photo and the story in Langer’s own words, lifted directly from his autobiography (Bernhard Langer: My Autobiography, 2003).

Langer calls it an oak tree, but you can see from the leaves and bark that it’s actually an ash (Fraxinus excelsior). Whatever, it’s still a fantastic, almost iconic, image.

In 1981 I became a world-famous golfer in a rather amusing way. I was playing in the Benson and Hedges International at Fulford. On the seventeenth hole I hit a nine iron to the green, pulled it left and it hit a big oak tree, to the left of the green. I heard the ball hit two or three times but did not see it come down. Seconds later the spectators started laughing and, sure enough, the ball was lodged in a little indentation in a branch about fifteen feet up!

I was in contention – finishing second in the end. My only concern was how to play the hole best… The worst option was to go back and take a ‘stroke and distance’ penalty. Dropping a ball at the green side was a better option, but still with a penalty. The best option, if it were possible, was clearly to play the ball from where it lay. I considered the options, looked where the ball was and decided that I might be able to hit it onto the green.

The hardest part was getting up the tree, getting a stance, and especially not falling out of the tree as I hit the ball! I managed to succeed in hitting the ball onto the green, leaving myself a putt for par. The crowd went absolutely crazy. Unfortunately I missed it, but at least it was only one dropped shot.

My only concern was to get the best score on the hole, and it was a bonus that there was a TV camera behind the hole – remember, in those days they only covered the last few holes. It was shown on TV around the world and, as I was pretty much at the beginning of my career, I was in some places better known for climbing the tree than for my golf!



I had my first experience of playing in the USA in 1981 when I was invited to play in the World Series. I was leading with six holes to play but could not quite sustain it. It was a good experience and boosted my confidence. That was shortly after the Benson and Hedges tournament and the tree incident.

I was amused to overhear this conversation between two people in the gallery:

‘Who is that?’
‘Isn’t he the man who climbs trees?’
‘What’s his name?’
‘I think it’s Bernard-something.’
‘No, it’s not. That’s Tarzan!’

Langer also recounts a different time when he hit a ball into a tree:

In fact my ball has stuck up a tree three times in my career. The second and third times were both in California, most recently at the end of 2001, and both Peter Coleman (my caddie) and I were in the tree, though Peter went higher. As I definitely could not play the ball this time, there was no point in my climbing up. It was a three wood that struck the ball high up in the tree, where it stuck maybe sixty feet up. You could see the ball from underneath but you could not get to it.

The next problem in this situation is that, under the rules, I have to be able to identify my ball. I could see it was a Titleist but every tournament player marks his ball in a particular way. I put two dots by the number. The referee said, ‘ If you are not sure that is your ball, you have to go back and replay the shot.’
I said, ‘I know it is my ball. I saw it go there and get stuck.’
He said, ‘Can you identify it?’
I said, ‘No, but I know it is my ball.’

So we got binoculars from someone in the crowd and with them we could see the two dots on the ball, and so I was allowed to drop it under the tree. After I declared it unplayable, we shook the tree and the ball fell.

Bernhard Langer: what a guy!


Posted in Miscellany





Urban umbrella: how trees stem flash-flooding

This post was written by Stephen Gray, Press Coordinator for Trees for Cities, an independent registered charity. -Ash

As the Xynthia storm starts to move away from western Europe and England, recent studies compiled by the urban tree charity Trees for Cities have been finding that even the familiar London plane is protecting us from flooding more than previously thought.

The urban umbrella

Trees work to protect urban areas in two simple ways: by intercepting water at the canopy, and by absorbing surface water through their roots. Water is drawn up through the tree in the process of transpiration and it is eventually lost to the atmosphere through stomata on the underside of the leaves.

By slowing the rate of sudden, heavy rainfall, trees reduce the peak volume of water needing to be displaced during the storm, and so avoid the need for expensive man-made floodwater containment systems, and the risk of sudden flooding.

The average cost to a UK resident of a flooded home is between £20,000 and £30,000 i.

Studies

In England, a study in Northumberland calculated the value of woodland areas around a river, in terms of the offset engineering costs of flood control, at £1,200 per hectare. In our changing climate, woods around urban areas and the trees within them are in especial need of protection for them to carry on providing these benefits ii.

In the city of Atlanta, USA the American Forests organisation calculated that if trees were removed, the cost of building containment facilities for the floodwater runoff would be $2 billion.

This means that for every $1 spent on trees, $5 can be recouped in money saved iii.

Trees for Cities

Trees for Cities, a UK charity which undertakes projects nationally to improve green urban spaces, has been campaigning for and planting new trees in cities since the charity was launched in 1993. In London, the mayor, Boris Johnson, recently announced a new target for the city of an increase in canopy cover from 20 to 25% by 2025 iv - which would make a quarter of the city green from above.

Sharon Johnson, Chief Executive said: "Over recent years we have seen a real difference in the attitude taken to trees in UK cities. They're becoming much more valued as an asset to the community, providing a wealth of financial and cultural benefits.

"As a charity, we're committed to increasing awareness of these benefits: our streets are community spaces, and so many are an untapped resource for the people who live on them. We've been proud to be planting trees across the country, through individual donations and tree planting schemes, so that residents can enjoy their benefits for hundreds of years to come."

Other benefits

Protection from storms is not the only reason for increased interest in urban vegetation: A house sheltered by street trees can have its heating and air-conditioning costs reduced by up to 10%, as the trees insulate the area and reduce wind speed in winter, as well as providing shade and reflecting heat away from the ground during warm summers.

Trees also provide a natural aesthetic benefit to streets, and when a suitable mix of species is chosen, should pose little threat to the integrity of surrounding buildings.


References

i www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmenvaud/uc113-iv/uc11302.htm
ii www.treeworks.co.uk/downloads/s15speakers/Isabel_Dedring_Mayors_Office.pdf
iii www.treesforcities.org/files_reports/tfc_treesMatter.pdf
iv www.milliontreesnyc.org/downloads/pdf/nyc_mfra.pdf


Posted in Miscellany





Birch catkins. FotT #45.

Closed male catkins on a leafless birch yesterday.

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The forty-fifth edition of the Festival of the Trees, Voice, is now online at The Voltage Gate. Go and enjoy it!

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treeblog has been included in a list of ‘50 Amazing Nature Photography Bloggers’. If that sort of thing floats your boat, go and check it out.


Posted in Miscellany





Five favourite photos from 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Posted in Miscellany





Festival of the Trees 44

Hello friend! Welcome to the February 2010 edition of the Festival of the Trees, hosted with gracious humility by treeblog. It’s time to take another walk through Festival Forest, so please dress in suitable attire. Quickly pack yourself some refreshments too – tea and biscuits, beer and a Scotch egg, whatever – and then we can get off in time to see the forest sunrise. Maybe we’ll see the trees lit up like the little Appalachian glow that Carolyn of Roundtop Ruminations saw last week.

O-ho! What rustles? A friendly badger approaches! What’s it got for us? A piece of parchment? Ah, it’s a map of Festival Forest, annotated by one of the Forest Guardians, Jade Blackwater. These green ‘X’s must be things she wants us to take a look at. Yep, these’ll fit into our walk nicely. The first one isn’t too far in this direction, so we might as well make it our first port of call… Aye, there’s a note attached to this tree. It’s a letter – sorry – it’s a poem entitled, Tu B’Shvat, by Rebecca of Rebecca’s Raps.

All photos in this post are Creative Commons-licensed and were found on Flickr.

Now, see that tree over there? That’s a myrtle beech. Over at Tasmanian Plants, David takes a look at how this tree from that island’s cool temperate rainforest managed to survive the most recent glacial period. And that scrub oak next to it? Greg of Greg Laden’s Blog tells us how a scrub oak in southern California has survived for an estimated 13,000 years by cloning itself. At that age it would have been a seedling in the last ice age, back when the myrtle beech was still chilling in refugia!

That tree by the stream is a western redcedar. It isn’t a true cedar though – it actually belongs to the cypress family. Western redcedar is the subject of a comprehensive post for The Clade by Rachel Shaw.

I don’t know what those twisting, barkless trees over there are, but I know that A. Decker has some drawings of them at Resonant Enigma. When it comes to identifying trees, things just got a bit easier for visitors to Riverside Park – the trees have now got little tags with their common and taxonomic names on, as Melissa of Out walking the dog discovered recently.

This part of the Forest is a lot colder than the rest (I hope you brought a coat). That freezing creek could have been the inspiration for Angie’s haiga at woman, ask the question. And that hoar frost… the way it transforms the leaves and the bark and the grass and everything is just magical. It’s not just the Forest either – take a look at Silvia’s photos of her wintry back garden at Windywillow. Kitty has another couple of frost photos at Into My Own.

Hard frozen ground plus dormant trees plus a prolonged episode of rainfall can all add up to a flash flood, something that occurred in Dave Bonta’s neck of the woods recently at Via Negativa. To top it off, the temperature dropped and the floodwaters froze!

The frost here is pretty deep. Er, it’s snow. Pretty deep snow. Outside the Forest, Chestnut Coppice and Sweep Wood took a decent hit of snow – Mike’s got a hefty photo-record over at Peplers in Rye. Eped of fish without faces has arranged some very wintrous photos of the infamous Donner Pass, whose subjects include staghorn lichen and the incredible-impossible phenomenon of snow rollers!

Isn’t this Forest strange? We’re barely taken a hundred steps from the snow and already there’s a flowering tree that closely resembles the pink poui in Gillena Cox’s webshots album, Scenery & Nature: Trees Bloom.

Some trees hold secrets… swamp4me at SwampThings shares a live oak with a mysterious wound. Who or what inflicted it and why? Is everything what it seems? All we know is, the tree lives on... What if a tree grew up next to a barbed wire fence and grew around the barbed wire, but at some later date the fence was taken down to leave behind a secret section of barbed wire buried deep inside the heart of the tree? Vicky reveals the secret at TGAW.

Hey. You feeling the bad vibes in this area? Those stumps over there were once healthy trees. I hate it when trees in the Forest have to be cut down, but the powers that be can be ignorant or unfair. Luigi at the Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog laments that his mother-in-law was forced to cut down some of her eucalypt plantation in Kenya under a government initiative to combat drought. Sometimes a tree has to come down in the interests of public safety, even if it’s a grand old vet. Michelle of Rambling Woods tells the sad story of Herbie, a victim of Dutch elm disease and New England’s oldest elm tree.

Have you ever noticed that some trees resemble animals? Somewhere in this forest there’s a silver birch that looks like a reindeer, and Shashi has a lizardy reptile-tree at his anAestheticbard photoblog. Speaking of birch trees, Sheridan at Willow House Chronicles recounts a Native American legend that explains the branch scars on birches with the story of Winabojo, a spirit-boy.

Hold on a sec, there’s an arrow made of sticks on the ground here! That’ll have been left by Dave Bonta, one of the Forest Guardians. Where does it point? At that tree down there with its bole all swathed with strips of material? That reminds me of a line from Marly Youmans’ poem A Tree for Ezekiel at qarrtsiluni.

Let’s just rest for a minute by this maple. I want to show you its twigs. Do you see those little wrinkles? Well, Seabrooke at the Marvelous in nature explains how by finding those wrinkles you can not only determine the age of a twig or branch, but also how much the twig or branch has grown in each year.

There was once a road that ran through the Festival Forest, but that was a long time ago. Today you could walk right by without noticing that a road was ever there. Once it fell out of use, the forest just swallowed it up. Rudyard Kipling poetised a very similar story in The Way Through The Woods, a fine poem to which Jasmine of Natures Whispers has added some fitting imagery.

You know, I never cease to be amazed by the sheer diversity of the trees here in Festival Forest. Over there are oaks, but over there are palm trees! The dedicated iphoneographer Bruce Moore shares a moody photos of a palm over at brucecmoore iPhone photos. When you say ‘palm tree’, I think ‘coconut’. If it’s a red hot day in the Dominican Republic and you fancy a refreshing drink of coconut milk, someone might just climb up and fetch you one. Moe at Iowa Voice has the photos! Still, not everyone likes palm trees. If only the haters would read Jacqueline’s passionate defence of palm trees at SAVING OUR TREES. The Alexandra Palm in her back garden is way more than just a ‘telegraph pole’ – it’s a valuable food source for birds and a possum!

And still with the palms, when Billy Goodnick saw a fig intertwined with a palm tree he got a little hot under the collar in this article at Fine Gardening. Mr Goodnick also gets excited about the colours of the leaves in autumn at Santa Barbara Edhat. I was apparently misinformed when I was told that deciduous trees turn yellow and orange and red because forest dwellers paint the leaves by the light of a full moon.

Jade Blackwater of Arboreality spent several months of 2008 living in Santa Barbara. Living next to a warm, sandy beach is all well and good, but if you’re a forest-dweller it might take some getting used to.

Are you a bonsai person? Or have you tried to keep one in the past? John Conn (b0n2a1) curates a gallery of spectacular specimens on Flickr called Bonsai.

The bare trees in this part of the forest are great to photograph against a beautiful, clear, blue sky on a fresh winter’s day. I’m sure Susan of Garden Rant would agree. A moody sky can work as well, like in these photos at Wanderin’ Weeta, snapped by the eponymous wanderer herself. A different approach to these bare trees delivers results just as pleasing, as Karen at trees, if you please demonstrates: photographing the shadows that the naked trees cast along the floor.

I can’t tell what flavour these trees are without their leaves on, but I’m pretty sure that they aren’t baldcypresses. I should be able to identify those in winter now after reading Genevieve’s post at Tree Notes. Actually, tell a lie - I do know what this tree is. Do you see those spiky balls hanging there? They’re sweet gum seed balls. I learned about these recently from Katie at Green-Wood Cemetery Trees.

Let’s stop by this pine tree for a moment and take a close look at one of these pine cones. These little winged structures wedged into the cone hold the seeds – Roberta will tell you more at Growing With Science Blog.

Have you ever fallen in love with a tree? Heather Cameron of A day in the Country has. Actually, she fell in love with a forest. AnneTanne of AnneTannes Kruidenklets fell in love with the English oak growing in the cornfield that neighbours her house. When the field came up for sale, guess what happened? I’m sure you’d do the same to keep the tree that you love safe.

Woah! That giant growth on that tree there! That is one fine burr. Almost as big as the one JSK saw on her ‘campground – dam loop’ walk at Anybody Seen My Focus?

I’ve heard that there are many old marker stones lost in this forest. Caroline at Coastcard tells of the Rufus Stone in the New Forest. The original stone was erected in 1745 to mark the site of an ancient oak tree, itself the site of a much older event: the death of a king in August 1100.

Shhh!. Stand still a minute and look where I’m pointing. Up in that Scots pine. A red squirrel. Red squirrels are native to Scotland, but they are under threat from the introduced grey squirrel, as Kevin of Fraoch Woodland will tell you.

Can you smell that salty tang in the air? We’ve walked right through Festival Forest and we’re about to come out onto a beach. There’s a flotsam- and jetsam-decorated tree (deceased) standing in the ocean that Nina of Ornamental will show you. And there’s just one last surprise before we get there: dancing clouds.

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed your journey today (or however long it took us – time in this forest passes strangely). I think the best way to bring it all to a close would be to solemnly quote these words of wisdom from Pablo of Roundrock Journal:

I just like the idea of knowing that the forest is a busy place even when we’re not around. And it reminds me that there is always something interesting to see in the forest if I just take the time to look for it.


Super. There are just two things left to say:
1. Thank-you to everyone who contributed to this edition of the Festival of the Trees, and thank-you again to Dave Bonta for forwarding on a lot of submissions, and Jade Blackwater for going the extra mile with her submissions. It’s been a pleasure.
2. Next month’s Festival of the Trees (#45) will be over at The Voltage Gate. Send in your submissions to thevoltagegate [at] gmail [dot] com. The deadline is the 26th of February.

Toodleoo-the-noo!


Posted in Miscellany





First call for February’s Festival of the Trees

Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please. It’s my pleasure to announce that treeblog will be hosting the 44th Festival of the Trees next month, so here’s what you gotta do. You’ve got the rest of the month to send all your tree-related submissions to me over at treeblog HQ, where a crack team of forest sprites are standing by to craft something worthy. What can you submit? Hear it straight from the horse’s mouth:

    The Festival of the Trees seeks:

  • original photos or artwork featuring trees
  • original essays, stories or poems about trees
  • audio and video of trees
  • news items about trees (especially the interesting and the off-beat)
  • philosophical and religious perspectives on trees and forests
  • scientific and conservation-minded perspectives on trees and forests
  • kids’ drawings of trees
  • dreams about trees
  • trees’ dreams about us
  • people who hug trees
  • people who make things out of trees
  • big trees
  • small trees
  • weird or unusual trees
  • sexy trees
  • tree houses
  • animals that live in, pollinate, or otherwise depend on trees
  • lichens, fungi or bacteria that parasitize or live in mutualistic relationships with trees
  • bark rubbings

    If you’re uncertain about whether a given item qualifies for inclusion, go ahead and send it in anyway.

Email your submissions to mail [at] treeblog [dot] co [dot] uk, ensuring that you include Festival of the Trees or FOTT in the title line. Or you could use the festival contact form. The deadline for submissions is the 30th of January and the festival will go online on the 1st of February.

Bring it on!


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January’s edition of the Festival of the Trees can be enjoyed now over at xenogere Go read!.


Posted in Miscellany





Planting Scots pine at Escrick Park Estate

I spent five days last week planting trees near York on the Escrick Park Estate as part of my college course. We – about twelve students and three instructors – planted 6,000 three-year old Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris) over three hectares. The trees were nursery-grown 2+1s, meaning that they had spent two years in the ground (2) before being lifted, replanted, and grown on in the ground for another year (+1).

According to the forestry guru, our newly created Scots pine plantation should soon be putting on growth at a rate of about 18 tons / tonnes per ha per year. In twenty years’ time about 35% of the trees will be thinned out: 20% by removing every fifth row and 15% by general thinning to leave the best trees growing. Further thinnings will be carried out every five years until the stand is fifty years old, when the trees will be left without thinning for twenty years until the final harvest takes places - seventy years from now. The density of the stand at harvest will be about 100 trees per ha – quite a change from the planting density of 2,000 trees per ha.

To achieve the desired planting density we planted each tree 2.2 metres apart. The trees were planted in perfect straight rows in one direction, but the first trees in each row were staggered. This should ensure that anyone walking or driving along the road that runs along one edge of the site… if they look towards the stand (perpendicular to the straight rows), they will see apparently randomly-planted trees. It’s all about being efficient and aesthetically pleasing at the same time.

The above photo shows a typical tree, with my boot for scale. The planting process was real simple: dig a bastard pit with the shovel (a slit in the ground, not a real pit – hence the name), pop in the tree (making sure the roots are all in order), stamp down the soil around the tree (to remove any air pockets where standing water may gather and freeze), stick a cane into the ground either side of the tree, and slide on a tree guard. The guards will protect the young trees when the site is sprayed to suppress weed growth, probably three times a year.

We mainly worked in pairs, one person digging the pits and planting the trees and the other putting on the tree guards. A ten-yard buffer zone was left around the site margin for wildlife.

This was my first taste of forestry planting. I found it monotonous but rewarding. On average, we each planted less than 500 trees over five days (not full days, mind). A pro planter would expect to plant 800 trees a day!

A large oak in an adjoining stand of young deciduous trees.


* * * * *

This month’s Festival of the Trees – the forty-second edition, Seven Billion New Trees – has been up for a week over at Via Negativa. It was put together by Dave Bonta, one of the Festival’s co-founders. Go read!

Next month’s festival – the first of the new year – will be hosted by Jason Hogle at xenogere. You know what to do… show him some tree love!


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Sylvan Miscellany

To say it’s in the middle of a service station carpark, the tree at Scotch Corner is mighty impressive.

A log keeps you warm twice: once when you cut it and once when you burn it.


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The Nature Conservancy’s Top 5 Eco-Friendly Holiday Gifts:

Adopt an acre.
Plant trees in the Atlantic Forest. Each tree is just $1.
Adopt a coral reef.
Help save the northern jaguar.
Give the gift of clean water.


Posted in Miscellany





Tree O'Clock - world record attempt

Between 11am and 12 noon on Saturday December the 5th BBC Breathing Places is attempting to break the world record for the most trees planted in one hour. Tree O’Clock, as the attempt is known, is part of the UK’s National Tree Week, which this year runs from the 25th of November to the 6th of December.

To take part in Tree O’Clock you just have to follow four steps: 1) Get a tree – 2) Plant a tree – 3) Take a photo as proof – 4) Email your photo to the BBC.

There are over a thousand free tree give-away schemes planned for garden centres and Forestry Commission visitor centres across the country in the run-up to the record attempt. All the information you need to participate can be found on the Tree O’Clock page here.

The record currently stands at 653,143. Go Plant!


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The submissions deadline for December’s Festival of the Trees looms – send yours in to Dave Bonta at Via Negativa. All the details are here.


Posted in Miscellany





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