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The treeblog trees
Posted on May 24, 2008 by Ash
I just got back from five days of walking and camping in the Highlands! I have sore feet and many photos! But first I think you should take a look at these Set A photos taken by my father on Thursday (Day 421). They will blow you away!
The Alpha Scots pine is shooting up like a rocket! Just look at it go! About four fifths of its height is new growth from this spring! Compare the photo above with the photo from Day 409 in this treeblog update from less than a fortnight ago! That same post also has photos of the Gamma Scots pine and grey alder No. 4 which you might want to compare with the photos below...
The Gamma Scots pine! While not as great as the Alpha pine, this seedling is still seeing some tremendous growth.
Now this is crazy! Check out cider gum No. 13!!! I never thought I'd see one of my cider gums looking like this so soon! Compare the above photo with a photo in this post from about three weeks ago. I can barely believe that it's the same seedling! ...Lots of lateral growth appearing - I wasn't kidding, was I?
Cider gum No. 14. Not quite as advanced as No. 13, but I guess that it'll look pretty similar in three weeks or so. It's nice to have cider gums that aren't just a single boring stem.
The Beast, grey alder No. 4. This monstrosity just keeps getting bigger!
And coming soon... a Set B update with photos of some very small seedlings in comparison to these Set A brutes.
Posted on May 12, 2008 by Ash
More Set B seedlings! Well, they might be. Else they might be weeds. We'll have to wait and see. Anyways, my father took all of these photographs on Saturday the 10th of May, a.k.a. Day 57 (Set B), a.k.a. Day 409 (Set A).
This might be a sweet chestnut seedling, the same one from the last post. In the four days between photos, it has grown another pair of leaves. Now that's progress! [Update (November 2008): Afraid not. This wasn't a sweet chestnut, it was a stinging nettle (Urtica dioica)!]
This little chappy is almost definitely a downy birch. Notice that the seed coat is still attached to the left cotyledon!
This seedling is growing in the European beech section so it may well be one of them. But I have my reservations. This seedling has very narrow cotyledons, but beeches have extremely broad cotyledons, as illustrated by my photo in this post. By the way, the two coloured tubes bottom right are drinking straws used to mark the different species planting areas. [Update (November 2008): My apprehensions were right; I don't know what this seedling was, but it certainly wasn't a beech!]
Back to Set A. Behold the treeblog king! Grey alder No. 4. I just can't get over how amazing this seedling is. It's just... awesome. The whole top quarter is new height growth from just the last few weeks!
The Gamma Scots pine. A lovely straight stem on this one.
The Alpha Scots pine. Massive height growth so far this spring! You can see the thicker, lighter green portion of the stem is new. A little bit wiggly though.
A closer view of the rosette on top of the Alpha pine. They're kinda hard to make out, but just below the pot rim is a pair of 'horns', one on either side of the stem. I think these will develop into the first pair of branches. Excitement!
Posted on May 6, 2008 by Ash
Yesterday, fifty-three days after I planted Set B, my sister noticed (and my father photographed) what I hope is the first seedling of the set. If it isn't a sneaky weed, this seedling should be a sweet chesnut. And it took a lot of effort to get hold of the sweet chestnuts! Let's hope that now the first seedling has broken through, the rest come thick and fast. [Update (November 2008): Ha ha ha! This seedling was never a sweet chestnut. It was a tricksy stinging nettle (Urtica dioica)!]
Posted on May 3, 2008 by Ash
Brace yourself! Here comes Part II of Day 397's super treeblog seedling update! Part I looked at the common alders and Scots pines. Part II looks at the cider gums.
Cider gum No. 1, one of the smaller 'second class' cider gums. Check out the lateral branching halfway up the stem.
Cider gums Nos. 2 (left) and 5 (right). What, no lateral branching?
Cider gum No. 3: El Freak.
Cider gums Nos. 4 (left) and 6 (right). No. 6 is a complete midget! And No. 4 is sharing its pot with a cheeky moss.
Cider gums Nos. 7 (left) and 8 (right), two of the 'first class' cider gums that got upgraded to bigger pots. A little tall, a little bendy, but no lateral branches.
Cider gums Nos. 9 (left) and 14 (right). As above.
Cider gums Nos. 10 (left) and 12 (right). Both looking good from this angle, but No. 10 has lost a lot of lower leaves.
Cider gums Nos. 11 (left) and 15 (right), a couple of second class cider gums. No. 11 has weird-looking leaves and No. 15 is very small. At least it's survived though! I never thought it would live for long after being transplanted from the seed tray.
Cider gum No. 13. A kinky stem with a lot of lean but lots of lateral growth appearing. Interesting!
And now for some tragic news regarding one of the 'fake alder' seedlings...
Yes, the rumours are true. One of the seedlings appears to have given up the ghost. What a shame. At least its partner in crime is still alive and kicking. I want this one to live long enough for me to make a positive identification.
As you can see, a lot of the cider gums, particularly the taller ones, have rather leany stems. Gustavo Iglesias of GIT Forestry Consulting, who has a blog called EUCALYPTOLOGICS, is a specialist in eucalypts - cider gum is a eucalyptus. He has recommended that I use something like a bamboo cane to straighten out the crooked stems. At the moment the stems are not lignified (barky) and so correction of form is possible - but this opportunity disappears with lignification, which ought to take place this growing season. So from now! Is this "cheating"? Maybe, but I want my cider gums to have good straight trunks!
Posted on April 30, 2008 by Ash
Oh my. It appears I haven't posted a proper treeblog seedling update in a goodly while. I guess I ought to remedy that situation... with a super treeblog seedling update love explosion!!! This is only the second time all of the Set A seedlings have been featured in an update, so it's an event of some importance! The first STSU was way back when in December with photographs from Day 264 (see Part I and Part II). The photographs in this update were taken on Day 397 - Monday the 28th of April - by my father. Massive props to him!
The Alpha Scots pine. C'est magnifique! After an eternity of no apparent change in nature, the last month or so has seen this beaut get pumped! The green section of stem seems to have swelled in girth as well as grown taller... and at the top a rosette!
The rosette can be seen better from this angle.
It's Alpha's younger buddy, the Gamma Scots pine. Again, the green section of the stem is swollen with new growth. I expect big things from these two pines this growing season!
Grey alder No. 1. While pathetic in comparison with the superlative No. 4, No. 1 is still a pleasant enough specimen.
Grey alder No. 2. The runtiest of the runts. Looks healthy though.
Grey alder No. 3. A slightly better performance places this seedling in grey alder second place, ahead of No. 1 but behind...
Grey alder No. 4! King of Set A! Absolutely incredible! I cannot praise this beast enough.
This photo has somehow sneaked into a Set A update... it shows the "pine needle or blade of grass" noticed in one of the Set B seed trays by my father on Saturday. I don't think that's a seedling, so, slightly worryingly, no Set B seedling has yet appeared above-soil.
And so ends Part I of this super treeblog seedling update. Come back soon for Part II, when it will be time to put the cider gums under the spotlight. And, to end on a bit of a cliffhanger... terrible news regarding one of the fake alder seedlings!
Posted on April 14, 2008 by Ash
Grey alder No. 4 is flushing!
Doesn't it look great? After months of looking like little other than a stick, No. 4 finally puts out an explosion of greenery! The photos are courtesy of my father, who took them on Saturday (the 12th) - Day 381 for the Set A treeblog trees. There were four photographs altogether, each from a different angle, and I have cropped and stitched them together for your viewing pleasure.
Four times the greenery!
What about Set B? Well, as of yesterday (Day 30) there were still no reported sightings. Set A had seedlings by Day 30! But Set A was planted a fortnight later in March than Set B.
Posted on April 3, 2008 by Ash
At long last, the long months of winter are almost over and the long days of summer are just around the corner! In Edinburgh, today was easily the best day of the year so far. The morning was summer-warm with a lovely clear sky. Proper shorts and t-shirt weather. The buds on many of the city trees are in the process of opening; on a walk into town today I noticed rowans, an alder and many shrubby trees I didn't recognise starting to unfurl their new leaves. Out of my bedroom window I can see an elder with many new leaves and a cherry tree beginning to budburst (even some white floweryness). But the two big ashes aren't showing any signs of greenery just yet.
The magnificent grey alder Number 4 is opening up its buds! And inside there are leaves!
Feast your eyes on this close up view of the unfurlage.
And then the two tricksy seedlings that I noticed in the alder seed tray at Christmas and have been calling alders Numbers 6 and 7. Well, I said I had doubts about them, and look at those leaves. They are distinctly un-alderish. Actually, they don't look very birchy either, and I was thinking that's what they'd turn out to be. So at the moment, they're just mystery seedlings.
Here's a rare treat: a view of the full treeblog line-up. From left to right on the bottom row: Alpha Scots pine; Beta Scots pine; the mystery seedlings; cider gum No. 13; and cider gum No. 14. The seed trays at the back contain the Set B nuts and seeds - there was no sign of any seedling emergence in these trays on Sunday (Set B Day 16). Behind the Scots pines are five round pots containing cider gums Nos. 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12, and a square pot containing grey alder No. 4. The small pots on the tray in the middle contain the rest of the cider gums and alders, and the fourth seed tray (centre right) contains non-treeblog lettuce seed.
Posted on March 28, 2008 by Ash
The development of the Alpha Scots pine (Day 0 to 351).
Today is the first anniversary of the planting of treeblog's Set A! In celebration of their first year in earth, I have prepared this special post to list the major milestones that they have experienced so far.
The development of grey alder Number 4 (Day 0 to 351).
Day 95 (1st July, 2007)
The Beta Scots pine root and the germinated grey alder seed were pronounced 'missing, presumed dead'.
The development of cider gum Number 9 (Day 0 to 351).
Posted on March 17, 2008 by Ash
Fifty weeks since the planting of treeblog Set A, Set B was planted on Friday the 14th of March. I have made a few improvements in the planting process for Set B. I know exactly how many seeds or nuts of each species I have planted, and the spacing between each seed and nut is much more uniform. All together, I planted the following 105 nuts / seeds:
Twenty European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) nuts (top) and ten weeping beech (Fagus sylvatica L. var. pendula) nuts (bottom). The European beech nuts were collected from the edge of Broomhead Park at Wigtwizzle in South Yorkshire, England, on July 7th, 2007. The weeping beech nuts were collected from the University of Edinburgh's Kings Buildings in Edinburgh, Scotland, on October 4th, 2007.
Thirty sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa Mill.) nuts. My father collected some chesnuts on October 20th, 2007 from a tree at Wigtwizzle (next to the aforementioned beech). It turns out that he also went back a few days later and collected several more - these can be seen in the photo below. The chestnuts I planted came mainly from his latter visit.
Thirty downy birch (Betula pubescens Ehrh.) seeds. I collected these from our garden (South Yorkshire) on July 9th, 2007 with a stepladder!
Fifteen mountain pine (Pinus mugo subsp. mugo Turra) seeds. I collected these from Val Canali in the Italian Dolomites on August 23rd, 2007. These seeds were all I could extract from four pine cones. I don't have any hope that many of these will germinate - if the top left seed in the photo is the norm, then the rest are woefully undersized.
So that is how Set B shaped up on Day 0. Judging by how Set A went, I expect that we'll start to see things sprouting from Set B in about four to six weeks. I can't wait!
Posted on March 16, 2008 by Ash
Why hasn't there been a treeblog post in almost a fortnight? The computer was poorly-sick. Now I'm in Edinburgh for one night, and one night only, before heading north to Loch Tay for more provenance trial fun. But enough of that: to the update! On Thursday (Day 351 for Set A) I took photos of some of the treeblog gang. Enjoy!
The Alpha Scots pine, all set to embark on a second year of growth.
Look! It's the Gamma Scots pine!
Grey alders 4 (left) and 3 (right). Look at the size of Number 4 compared with Number 3! It's some kind of super-tree.
A closer view of the top end of grey alder Number 4. It's multitudinous buds are just beginning to unfurl. Let's hope there aren't any severe late frosts.
The alleged alders 6 (left) and 7 (right). My doubts about these two have grown. I bet they are birches. [Update (August 2008): They aren't birches or alders, and I still don't know what they are so I'm calling them 'post-Set A unknown seedlings'.]
Feast your peepers on a selection of the best cider gum seedlings (plus the special Number 3, far left). From second left to far right are Numbers 7, 9, 10, 12 and 14. Which one do you reckon looks best? I'm just about going with Number 10.
And the very next day (Friday), I repotted grey alder Number 4 and the biggest cider gums (Numbers 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14). And whilst I was messing around getting mucky... I planted treeblog's eagerly anticipated Set B!
Posted on February 26, 2008 by Ash
There they are, the treeblog Set B seeds and nuts, all laid out nicely for direct comparison:
Posted on February 12, 2008 by Ash
At last! The first treeblog seedling update since the super update of Day 264 (Parts I and II)! Today is actually Day 321, so the following photos were taken (by my father) on Sunday.
A closer view of
Grey alder Number 4: the beast. Notice the lateral branches - it's more than just a twig!
A much closer view of the terminal bud of Number 4. What can you see? Notice the warts on the stem - lenticels I believe.
The majestic Alpha Scots Pine. Has it grown at all since Day 264? I don't think so... Have a look for yourself on the Photo-timeline page.
The Gamma Scots pine. I don't think this seedling has grown much since the last update either.
Cider gum Number 7. Another non-grower. Even though they are evergreen, winter must be outside the growing season.
Cider gum Number 9. Some call it the Top Gum... Others say it is getting a bit spindly and that Number 7 should be crowned Top Gum instead... Yet others maintain that Number 3 is in fact the Top Gum. It's quite a divisive issue.
P.S. treeblog is one year old on Thursday!
Posted on January 22, 2008 by Ash
Mountain pine cones.
I will be planting some mountain pine seeds as part of treeblog's Set B this spring. Mountain pine, also known as dwarf pine, is a real taxonomic confusion. There is a bewildering tangle of subspecies and variants and even hybrids. Nevertheless, I believe I am correct in identifying the seeds I will plant as being Pinus mugo subsp. mugo Turra; more simply Pinus mugo. See the four pine cones in the photograph above? I hand-picked those on a mountainside in the Italian Alps back on the 23rd of August on a field trip with the University of Edinburgh (see photos of the trip here and here). I picked 'em, and soon, I'm gonna plant 'em.
Posted on January 16, 2008 by Ash
My favourite tree species is the European beech (Fagus sylvatica), so of course I want to grow some for treeblog. In the summer, when I was on one of my chestnut missions, I found an abundance of beechnuts beneath the big old chestnut. It is right next to a big old beech, you see. "What a marvellous opportunity!" I thought, and swiftly procured a handful. Those nuts are now sat around waiting to become beautiful treeblog trees as part of Set B (coming Spring 2008!).
Collecting beechnuts on the 7th of July (photograph taken by my sister).
The big old beech. Mighty!
The beechnuts that are destined for a treeblog planting.
Posted on December 20, 2007 by Ash
The update continues... and so does the barrage of photos (all taken on Day 264 - Monday the 17th of December). Feast your eyes on the grey alders and Scots pines:
The Alpha Scots pine. C'est magnifique! Not any drastic progress, but I'm sure it's still getting bigger and better.
The Gamma Scots pine. Again, no noticeable growth since the last update, but still a fine specimen of a pine.
Grey alder Number 1. The alders are the only deciduous treeblog trees, and they look pretty miserable without their leaves compared with the evergreen cider gums and Scots pines. Bring on the spring!
Alder Number 2, the smallest of its ilk.
Alder Number 3. Similar in size to Number 1, it has managed to retain one still-green leaf. What audacity!
The once-magnificent alder Number 4, stripped of all its verdant splendour by cruel Autumn.
And so ends this lengthy seedling update. The Scots pines look about the same. Some of the cider gums are doing really well, and some not so much. The grey alders are mostly leafless and ready to pass the winter in stick form. Will the treeblog seedlings survive the winter? I sure hope so, but the frosts may inflict some fatalities, particularly upon the cider gums, a species not known for its frost tolerance (it being native to a much warmer clime, Australia).
Alders Numbers 6 and 7? Its certainly possible! [Update (August 2008): These aren't alders. I don't know what they are yet, so I'm calling them 'post-Set A unknown seedlings'.] Both stems can clearly be seen in the inset photo - strange how close together they are.
Posted on December 18, 2007 by Ash
I returned home to Sheffield at the weekend and have been reunited with my babies. Yesterday (Day 264) I spent a bit of time photographing every single treeblog seedling. That was a lot of photos, so this update is split into two parts. Part I is pure cider gum goodness. So without further ado, prepare yourself for an onslaught of cider gum photographs!
Cider gum Number 1. Showing signs of lateral branching!
Cider gum Number 2. A fairly boring individual.
Cider gum Number 3. It may be a freak, but it sure is an interesting freak.
Cider gum Number 4. Lost a lot of lower leaves, this one.
Cider gum Number 5. Another one without its lower leaves.
Cider gum Number 6. A runt, but lacking the charm of Number 3.
Cider gum Number 7. Now we're talking! Number 7 is one of the top cider gum performers.
Cider gum Number 8. Distinctly average.
Cider gum Number 9. The Top Gum.
Cider gum Number 10. Another gum in the top range.
Cider gum Number 11. A bit weird looking, this one.
Cider gum Number 12. Some fine growth by this guy, but has some serious wonkiness going on.
Cider gum Number 13. Not doing bad at all.
Cider gum Number 14. Another one with wonkiness issues.
Cider gum Number 15. Still small, but considering how tiny it was at the transplant stage, its grown quite well.
So there you have it. A barrage of cider gum photographs. Coming up in Part II of this super seedling update: Scots pine and common alder progress... plus two new treeblog surprises?
Posted on November 26, 2007 by Ash
It's been almost three weeks since the last seedling update, but fret not; a new one has arrived, nice and warm like fresh bread. The photographs were taken by my father yesterday (Day 242) with a brand spanking new camera. There isn't a whole lot different to report in this new update. The biggie is that autumn has hit the grey alders, and hit 'em hard. Cider gum No. 9 has bent a little while No. 7 has straightened up. Cider gum No. 3 has got some non-crinkly leaves! Things are looking up for the black sheep of the treeblog family.
The alpha Scots pine. Looking good (as always).
The gamma Scots pine. Mmm, nice.
Grey alder No. 4 a.k.a. the Beast, stripped of all its verdant glory by cruel Autumn.
Cider gum No. 3 a.k.a. the Runt. Check out the uppermost pair of leaves: small yet perfectly formed.
Cider gum No. 7 on excellent form, with some splendid... form.
Cider gum No. 9. Got a bit of a lean thing going on.
Posted on November 8, 2007 by Ash
Time for another retrospective seedling update: today is Day 225 for treeblog's Set A, but the photos in this post were taken last Sunday, the 4th (Day 221). Thanks are due once again to my father, who took these photos in my absence. I apologise for the blurriness of some of them , but they were the best he could get out of an early-model digital camera.
The alpha Scots pine. I like to think of this seedling as a treeblog 'flagship', along with common alder Number 4.
The gamma Scots pine.
Grey alder Number 4 looking a little the worse for wear compared with how it looked back on Day 196! I think autumn is finally getting to the poor guy.
Grey alder Numbers 1 and 3. Not a patch on Number 4, but still looking good.
Cider gum Number 3 (affectionately known as 'the Freak'). Underdeveloped and strangely deformed... but still going strong. What a trooper!
Cider gum Number 7. One of the top gums.
Cider gum Number 9. The Top Gum.
Let's end on a shot of most of the Set A seedlings. The four grey alders (nee treeblog surprises) are in the background, and the first nine cider gums make up the rest. Look how grey alder Number 4 and cider gums Numbers 7, 9 and 10 tower above the rest!
Posted on October 25, 2007 by Ash
For some time now I have been waiting to get hold of some nuts from a certain venerable sweet chestnut tree. I visited the tree in July and August, but the nuts where nowhere near ripe back then, and it appears that I totally jumped the gun! As I have been up in Edinburgh since the end of August, I have been unable to visit the sweet chestnut myself since then, so I have been sending my father on nut missions in my place. The tree has finally given up its fruits, and my father was there on the 20th of October (last Saturday) to collect a few for treeblog's second set of trees: Set B.
The chestnuts! These will be planted as part of treeblog Set B next year.
I collected these chestnuts from a tree at the University of Edinburgh's King's Buildings on the 15th of October. They will not be planted for treeblog... they will probably be roasted and eaten instead.
A few of my Edinburgh chestnuts, once removed from their spikey cupules. There are three nuts to a cupule, and the cupules tend to hang in pairs.
Posted on October 18, 2007 by Ash
Come with me, back through the hazy mists of time, back to the 6th of February 2007. A grey Tuesday afternoon. I was on a field trip with one of my third year classes at university (Evolution and Ecology of Plants) to “study lichens ‘in the wild’ and to collect specimens for study in the lab”. Location? Gowkley Moss, a land reclamation site on a former coal bing not far from Edinburgh. I know the date and location of the field trip from my notes.
Four empty alder cones – the bearers of treeblog seed - and what might be a larch cone.
Anyway, on the 28th of March 2007, the date of treeblog’s inaugural planting, I opened the little envelope and planted the seeds that had fallen from the cones. Along with a packet of Scots pine seeds and a packet of cider gum seeds, they formed treeblog’s Set A. I know for a fact that they are alders - I’m just ever so slightly unsure as to the species of alder. The common or black alder (Alnus glutinosa) is native to most of Britain. But according to my Collins Field Guide Trees of Britain and Northern Europe (Alan Mitchell, 1974) the grey alder (Alnus incana) is often planted on reclaimed tips – i.e. Gowkley Moss. And seeing as how my memory of that field trip is pretty rubbish, I’m not sure what species of alder I was collecting seed from. It was winter, the trees were leafless, I am no alder expert.
The seeds from the envelope that were planted as treeblog’s Set A alders.
As for the larch, none ever germinated, making it likely that I never planted any larch seeds in the first place.
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