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The treeblog trees
Posted on October 16, 2007 by Ash
This is another retrospective seedling update: today is Day 202 for treeblog Set A, but the photographs in this post were taken last Wednesday (Day 196). I am grateful to my father, who has once again taken the photographs, since it is not possible for me to be the photographer from my present location in the Scottish capital. Do not be alarmed by the brick in the photos! It is merely there to improve the sharpness and detail of the seedlings by providing a contrasting background.
A long awaited photograph of cider gum No. 3, a.k.a. the Freak. Not only is this specimen all small and runty, it also has tiny, curled leaves and a few shoots branching off from the main stem. The big question: is it a freak for genetic or environmental reasons? Genotype vs phenotype.
Cider gum No. 14. Quite a nice little seedling. According to my father, it is marginally the best of the second wave of cider gums.
Cider gum No. 7. A little bit tall, this one.
Cider gum No. 9. “A fine upright specimen - possibly Top Gum” (dad joke).
Another long awaited photograph. Behold! It is grey alder No. 4 in all its glory! What an absolute, stonking beast!
Posted on October 9, 2007 by Ash
The photographs in this post were taken on Sunday, or Set A Day 193. And what progress! My father took them (thankee) with an ancient 1.3 megapixel digital camera hailing from Christmas 2001, the legendary Fuji FinePix 1300. The old girl still has a use, it seems.
Check out grey alder No. 1! Although not a patch on its sibling, No. 4, it is the second biggest alder seedling and is making good progress. Look how healthy that leaf looks!
Grey alder No. 2: the runt of the bunch. Very small, but perfectly formed.
Grey alder No. 3: third by name, third by nature.
Alas! I hear that all photographs of grey alder No. 4 were really out of focus. As were the cider gum photographs, which is disappointing since the word on the street is that cider gum No. 3 is doing some pretty freakish things these days. But ne’ermind. I hope we’ll be seeing some new photos for another update soon.
The beautiful, beautiful alpha Scots pine. Feast your eyeballs upon all those needles! They are as numerous as Legion. (Apologies for the out-of-focusness…ness – same with the next one.)
The (as always) charming and delightful gamma Scots pine. My, how the little fella has grown! Hot on the heels of its elder sibling, this one.
And finally: behold the grand vista of all four grey alder seedlings (at the back) plus cider gum seedlings 1 through 11! Marvel at the towering behemoth that is grey alder No. 4! Astounding! Breathtaking! Feel the awe (so much awe, it’ll make you sore). Cider gum No. 3 can be seen just in front of the imposing alder No. 4.
Posted on October 1, 2007 by Ash
As I have already mentioned, I am back in Edinburgh all winter for university. But, all the treeblog seedlings are home in Sheffield. Yesterday, my father kindly provided a sort of status report for all the seedlings. Yet there are no photographs for the time being since his camera was stolen on holiday! Please bear with us.
The grey alders:
Posted on September 11, 2007 by Ash
Today is actually Day 166 for treeblog Set A, so this seedling update is 12 days late. Day 154 was Wednesday the 29th of August and the very next day, (with a tear in my eye) I left the treeblog seedlings behind and travelled up to Scotland. I will not see them again in person until nearly Christmas; until then, my father will act as caretaker.
Grey alder Number 4 - you beauty!
For the Scots pines, I have nothing but praise! Old Alpha is looking vital and vigorous, and is recovering well from its lean... and Gamma is coming on in leaps and bounds!
Scots pine Alpha.
Scots pine Gamma.
The majority of the cider gums are also doing well and growing faster than ever. In my opinion, they are growing upwards too quickly without sending out any lateral growth, and I am worried that they may end up rather spindly. But! The sickly looking cider gums are sending out plenty of lateral growth! And as of Day 154, all 15 of the cider gums were still alive and kicking.
Cider gum Number 5 - an example of a fast grower.
Cider gum Number 3 - a sickly one (note the lateral branching).
Posted on August 12, 2007 by Ash
Thinking ahead to next years' set of treeblog seedlings (Set B), I have already been out and collected two lots of seeds. Another species I want to grow for treeblog is the sweet (or Spanish) chestnut, Castanea sativa. My Collins Field Guide Trees of Britain & Northern Europe [2nd Ed.], by Alan Mitchell (1978, HarperCollinsPublishers) has this to say on the sweet chestnut's flowers and fruit:
Axillary bunches of cord-like catkins at end of June open whitish-yellow, 25-32 cm long, crowded with small male flowers each a mass of stamens, turn brown and fall in mid-July. Female flowers sometimes on small, separate spreading catkin, 5-6 cm long, 5-6 flowers; usually 1-2 at base of short, 10-12 cm catkin of unopened, yellowish rudimentary female or rarely male flowers, near tip of shoot. Female flower a 1 cm rosette of bright green, minutely hairy spines with a bunch of spreading, slender white styles. Fruit in bunches of 2-3, in light yellow-green 3 x 4 cm husk covered in sharp spines 1.5 cm long, radiating in clusters; interior white with silky, appressed hairs. Usually two nuts: one globose, the other smaller, concave; dark, shiny red-brown, narrowing to a tip bearing dead styles.
There is a huge, old sweet chestnut quite local to where I live, and it is the offspring of this tree that I wish to raise. I visited the tree on the 7th of July, earlier this year. However, the 'cord-like catkins' were not yet in flower.
Cord-like male catkins on the sweet chestnut (7th July 2007).
Close-up of the male catkins (not yet in bloom) (7th July 2007).
I visitied the sweet chestnut again a few days ago on the 8th of August, but was disappointed to find that the nuts were not yet ready for harvesting. In fact, the tree was still in flower, despite my Field Guide stating that the male flower-supporting catkins "turn brown and fall in mid-July". Perhaps the unusually wet weather this summer has affected the tree's phenology. treeblog will have to wait a little longer to get hold of some sweet chesntuts.
Cord-like male catkins in bloom on the sweet chestnut (9th August 2007).
Close-up of male catkins in bloom, with spiny female flowers in the foreground (9th August 2007).
Posted on August 5, 2007 by Ash
Today is the 130th day since Set A was planted. There are currently 15 cider gum seedlings in the treeblog stables, with no deaths since the seedlings were first transplanted from the seed trays (before which there were many fatalities, probably due to slugs). The image below shows all the cider gum seedlings, Numbers 1 to 15, in numerical order from left to right.
Of the original 3 seedlings to be transferred out of the seed tray on the 5th of June (Day 69), Numbers 1 and 2 are doing very well. Unfortunately, Number 3 looks rather unhealthy. Its growth is stunted and its leaves are shrivelled; I don't know what is ailing it, but that seedling doesn't look good.
What does the future hold for treeblog's cider gums? Who knows? But I hope that all 15 continue to grow and survive the winter, and that the 3 sickly seedlings improve in health.
Posted on August 2, 2007 by Ash
treeblog has returned from its hiatus. In other words, I arrived back home this weekend from a sunkissed couple of weeks in Turkey. Upon reacquainting myself with the treeblog seedlings, I was impressed by how much some of them had grown over the last fortnight, particularly the Alpha Scots pine, grey alder Number 4, and several of the cider gums. I was also met with a happy surprise; an optimistic check of the apparently defunct seed trays revealed a shiny new Scots pine seedling! This bumps up the total number of germinated Scots pine seedlings to three (although Number 2 (Beta) is dead, suspected of having been wolfed down by a stinking slug). Three seedlings from a whole packet of seeds: disappointing (see how many seeds were originally in the packet).
Grey alder Number 4 on Saturday (Day 122).
I transplanted the new Scots pine seedling into a pot on Monday, and whilst I was at it I repotted the Alpha Scots pine in new soil as well, as concerns have been raised that the soil it was in was too constrictive. Alpha Scots pine had also leaned right over, so I was able to correct that. Both pines were replanted in a soil mix containing a bit of garden topsoil, a bit of compost, and some soil and leaf litter from an actual Scots pine wood. So far, they seem to have taken to it like ducks to water.
Alpha Scots pine in new soil on Monday (Day 124).
Gamma Scots pine in new soil (Day 124).
The Alpha and Gamma (inset) Scots pines in their entirety (to scale) (Day 124).
Coming soon: a review of the cider gum seedlings!
Posted on July 10, 2007 by Ash
A mere 16 days after transplanting the second wave of cider gum seedlings from seed tray to individual pots, a third wave has made the transition. I spent some time yesterday transplanting all six of the newest seedlings, including the "runtish" plant which was left out of the second wave. That particular individual (cider gum Number 10) no longer looks sickly, but has its first set of proper leaves on the go. Cider gum Number 15 is the smallest of the new wave by far, and perhaps should have stayed in the seed tray a bit longer before I disturbed it. Its future doesn't look bright.
From left to right, cider gums Nos. 10 to 15.
Posted on July 2, 2007 by Ash
First of all I bring good news: there is a third wave of cider gums. Including the 'runt' of the second wave (not transplanted into an individual pot), there are now five cider gum seedlings in the seed tray awaiting transplantation! There seems to be a new one popping up on an almost daily basis.
The alpha Scots pine seedling.
Grey alder No. 4.
Cider gum No. 9 (of the ‘second wave’).
Cider gum No. 1 (left) and cider gum No. 2 (right).
Posted on June 29, 2007 by Ash
There has been no internet access at treeblog HQ since Monday (hence the lack of updates), due to what is likely to be known henceforth as the Great Flood of 2007. In the treeblog post on Monday the 18th of June, I wrote that "the worst of the weather now seems to be behind us..." Oh, how wrong I was! It seems to have hardly stopped raining this month, but last Monday (the 25th) was stupendously rainy. Our road was turned into a virtual river, with huge gashes carved in the tarmac, over a foot deep in places. But across much of the North of England, especially around Sheffield, the damage has been much worse. I'm sure anyone in Britain will know all about this, but for you abroad who may not have heard anything, it was bad. I will post some extraordinary flood pictures in a couple of days.
Posted on June 24, 2007 by Ash
This last week has seen more rain, rain, and even more rain. The treeblog seedlings have been continuously sitting in pretty wet soil for quite a while now. Yet so far they don't appear to be suffering from any adverse effects, thankfully. Even though I moved the seedlings out of their seed trays and into individual pots a while ago, I retained the seed trays in the hope of further germinations. This week, my optimism has been rewarded! A further seven cider gum seeds have germinated, although no more Scots pine or treeblog surprise have surfaced.
The treeblog trees (new cider gums on the right).
Posted on June 18, 2007 by Ash
Good news! All seedlings that made the transition into the new pots are still alive and well, with the possible exceptions of the beta Scots pine's root (unknown condition) and grey alder 5 (condition also unknown). The recent weather has been awful here. According to the newspaper, South Yorkshire had a whole month of rain in just two days! We've seen some local flooding and plenty of springs popping up all over the place. These generally find a road or lane to follow, and have caused quite a bit of damage to the road surface in places. All of this precipitation has left the treeblog seedlings in quite waterlogged soil, but the worst of the weather now seems to be behind us and the soil is returning to its non-saturated natural state.
The Alpha Scots pine seedling is looking strong and healthy. Its second rosette is coming on apace, and it has become an important support for a small spiderweb.
The grey alders are likewise doing well for themselves. The most advanced seedling, Number 4, has fleshed out a second proper leaf in the past week, and looks set to produce a few more!
The good news continues! The leading cider gums, Numbers 1 and 2, are both in the middle of squirting out their second pair of proper leaves. Cider gum 1 is taller than cider gum 2, although its stem does not look quite so sturdy, I'm afraid.
Posted on June 11, 2007 by Ash
The grey alders are vying with the lonely Scots pine for seedling supremacy! After not a lot of growth-excitement, the alders seem to be finally going for it! The current champion is grey alder Number 4, with one lovely new leaf being quickly followed by another.
Grey alder No. 4 photographed yesterday (Day 74).
In light of this competition, the Scots pine is now building up for a second rosette of needlings! Photos coming soon!
Posted on June 6, 2007 by Ash
I come bearing bad tidings. After returning from a camping trip in the Lake District, I was shocked to discover that the treeblog seedlings have been reduced to a pitiful number. I think it must be the damn slugs. So some changes have been made. All surviving seedlings were carefully transplanted from the seed trays into individual pots yesterday. The seedlings should benefit from deeper soil, and a slightly different soil mix (half compost / half garden topsoil, as opposed to 100% compost). And drastic times call for drastic measures. Up until now I have not used slug pellets, but a liberal application is now laid down. The survivors must be protected at all costs!
In a horrific turn of events, the beta Scots pine seedling was devoured (by a hungry slug?) sometime during Monday night. After recovering from this hefty blow to treeblog morale, I transplanted the remaining root into the new pots but I am doubtful it can make a recovery. Therefore, out of the entire packet of Scots pine seeds that I planted 70 days ago, only two ever germinated and only one is still with us.
The cider gum seedlings have similarly suffered from bad fortune. Only three now remain. When I was transplanting these from the seed tray, I noticed little bits of half-devoured cider gum stems and leaves all over the shop. Bloody slugs.
The grey alder seedlings have also seen a decline in numbers. But four seedlings have survived (plus a recently germinated seed). The first proper pair of leaves are developing nicely in a couple of the seedlings. (The fourth seedling from the left in the photo is a weed that got in there by mistake).
The new set-up. Top row, left to right: Beta Scots pine; alder No. 1; alder No. 2. Middle row, l to r: alder No. 3; alder No. 4; alder No. 5 (seed). Bottom row, l to r: cider gum No. 1; cider gum No. 2; cider gum No. 3. The Alpha Scots pine is in a separate, larger round pot.
Posted on May 30, 2007 by Ash
Better news than the last treeblog seedling update! Even though only two have germinated so far, the Scots pines are powering along. Both seedlings are looking strong and healthy, and the beta seedling is doing a good job of catching up with the alpha.
The alpha seedling is on the left, the beta seedling is on the right (photographed yesterday (Day 62) - not to scale).
And after what seems like an eternity with no change in the germinated cider gum and grey alder seedlings, they now appear to be on the verge of a growth spurt. A few of both the cider gums and the alders are now developing their first pair of real leaves. The grey alders are also looking sturdier than they were last week.
Two typical cider gum seedlings.
Two typical grey alder seedlings. Are those red twiddly things on the left seedling new leaves?
Posted on May 23, 2007 by Ash
Bad news: The cider gum and grey alder seedlings seem to be in arrested development. I think it might be worth trying a different sort of soil. Only two Scots pines have germinated.
The most advanced treeblog seedling yet (photographed yesterday).
The Scots pine seed tray. The alpha seedling is circled.
Posted on May 16, 2007 by Ash
Well, today is actually Day 49, but my photos are from Day 47 - Monday. So it is now seven weeks since Set A was planted. In the cider gum and grey alder trays, there are quite a few seedlings (roughly twenty in each), but these are still very small; somewhere in the order of a few millimetres to a centimetre or two. There is now a definite Scots pine seedling (and possibly a second), but this is also very small. Just about a centimetre. I predict that by this time next week, we should be seeing further Scots pine emergence and hopefully an increase in the size of the other seedlings. Compared with a sycamore seedling of similar age, the cider gums and surprises are tiny... but then again, sycamores do produce much larger seeds, and hence probably contain larger initial food reserves.
A typical grey alder seedling.
A typical cider gum seedling.
The Scots pine alpha seedling.
Posted on May 7, 2007 by Ash
It is Day 40. A whole forty days since Set A was planted. Almost 6 weeks. Seedlings have grown, but progress is disappointing. There are a fair few grey alder seedlings (I apologise for a lack of precise figures). Unfortunately, these do not appear to have made any progress in the week or so since the last update. Neither have the cider gum seedlings. In fact, the number of cider gum seedlings has apparently declined! This is a bit of a mystery; the seedlings are missing, and so presumably haven't just shrivelled up, and yet there is no sign of anything that may have eaten them. If they are being eaten, it must be a pest small enough to get through the wire mesh that protects them at night. And there is no sign of any slug or snail trails. And on the Scots pine front... well, there aren't any Scots pine seedlings (yet). Bah.
The grey alder tray. Lots of seedlings - a pity they are so small.
A grey alder seedling.
Cider gum seedlings. Where are they vanishing to?
A cider gum seedling.
No sign of any Scots pine here...
...or is there?
Posted on April 29, 2007 by Ash
Important progress! A number of treeblog seeds have germinated! Over the past couple of days, tiny seedlings have emerged from the soil. No Scots pine have yet made an appearance, but as of yesterday (Day 31) 9 cider gum and 4 grey alders have been noted. At least I hope that they are trees; it may be that some or all of the seedlings turn out to be weeds. Unfortunately I am currently in the Scottish capital and so have been unable to witness firsthand the emergence of the first treeblog trees. Therefore all information and photographs at present are courtesy of my father (also an A. Peace).
One of the cider gum (Eucalyptus gunnii) seedlings (Day 30).
One of the grey alder seedlings (Day 30).
Posted on March 28, 2007 by Ash
The long awaited day has finally arrived. treeblog has its first seeds in the soil! This initial set is comprised of 3 lots of seeds: a packet of Scots pine seeds, a packet of cider gum seeds, and a group of mystery seeds. Each species was planted in a special tree soil in individual trays. I tried to keep the pattern of seeds in each tray as uniform as possible, but only time will tell how that works out. The cider gum seeds were laid on top of the soil, as per the instructions on the packet. After plantage, I watered the trays and placed them in the garden. The cider gums get a clear plastic lid in a feeble attempt to bump up their humidity.
The Scots pine seeds prior to plantage.
The cider gum seeds.
treeblog Set A. From left to right: cider gum; Scots pine; mystery seeds.
The first person out there who correctly identifies the species to which the mystery seeds belong will get something special. Oh yes! [Update (August 2008): The 'mystery trees' or 'treeblog surprises' are actually grey alders (Alnus incana).]
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