Archive | About Trees

Articles involving trees, shrubs, bushes, woods and hedges plus related subjects

The Thinking Tree’s Life Cycle

Tree of Knowledge

At the beginning of 2020 UK trees are getting a good press and their significance and importance is better recognised. The more we think about trees and what they can do for us so it is worth considering if and how trees think for themselves.

Early Years Thinking

  • How can we (the tree) get our seed distributed in an optimum manner. We want it in the right place at the right time to germinate and grow. We will use all the tricks of natures trade including water, wind and air blown distribution, animal and creature carrying with the possibility of a bit of fertiliser dropped in for free.
  • Our seed contains a genetic memory of our species and our specific parentage. Memory implies the basis of a thinking ability which will help govern our development into a full blown adult tree.
  • We think about our survival and often anticipate a high germination failure rate and significant early year losses. So we produce a volume of seed to counteract the anticipated conditions including weather, location and external factors.

 

Book Cover

Mid Life Thoughts and Actions

  • We trees recognise that we are part of a far wider natural and environments system and that we need ecological partnerships. One of the foremost partnership must be with the soil our home for life. The composition and inter-actions are worth much further thought and exploration. Our fruit, bark, canopy and shelter provide conditions for creatures, lichen and others and we can slowly modify our mix of the resources provided to keep pace with changing requirements.
  • Survival calls for our inherited skills. In some cases we must shed unwanted or unsustainable branches and we broad leaf trees are all taught from an early age to shed leaves each year once they have done their job. We think the rotting down of all these cast offs will enhance the soil fertility and feed the worms and fungus that are another partner.
  • Our fertile years turn thoughts to reproduction and particularly fertility. As we mature our hormones tell us to flower and set seed more profusely. Pollination needs the help of others such as insects, birds or winds.
  • Give a thought to our roots which are largely hidden from human view. We start to spread them beyond our canopy as we think it is a sensible thing to do.
  • In middle-age our crowns will level out, limbs grow thicker and we develop our own individual character.

Thoughts on Old Age

  • Venerable Oaks, Yews, Pines and many of our fellow species will live to a ripe old age of many hundreds of years. They have learnt to survive despite climate changes, war and pestilence both human and natural. You think that is just by accident? No we thought not!
  • We think that bending a branch down to earth will give us stability for a bit longer and hollowing out our trunk may provide food for our roots.
  • We grow faster the older we get until we reach a certain height but then stop getting taller.
  • Our dead trees can provide a good habitat for wildlife by providing food and shelter. First we should watch for insect and disease attacks that reduce our health and life expectancy.

This page is not just a ‘bonfire of the inanities’ but ‘shiver my timbers’  it is a plank for future.

 

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Tree Project to Reduce My Ignorance

I have been  inspired later in life by trees and all things with a tree connection. My previous lack of knowledge and propensity to skirt over a massive subject will be developed into a more active skirmish but probably in my normal  skittish manner.

Planning the project on the hoof I am starting in the middle of a tree life with a couple of early January  photos of buds. Some may think this Tree Peony bud is more of a shrub but I am using it to make a point about differentiation between trees and shrubs. In the main a shrub has more than one main stem whilst a tree has a single trunk. There are notable exceptions but that will do me for the time being. Another arbitrary difference is that trees are thought of as being taller than shrubs or bushes.

These buds were on what I took to be a large horse chestnut and I could only reach to photograph them with great difficulty. I can’t climb up trees to take as many photos as I wish as ‘I’m not a lumber jack and that not OK’.

Bud burst is a key and often colourful moment. Rhododendrons tend to feature more in the shrub category but the large older specimens at RHS Harlow Carr, for example, hit the tree heights as far as I am concerned. The Guinness Record for the tallest Rhododendron arboreum at 108 ft is still growing in India .

 

Tree or Shrub Differences.

  • In the UK gardening fraternity we are more familiar with ornamental shrubs for their colour, form and aesthetic appeal. Trees appeal at a higher level.
  •  Height is a differentiator but even experts have their differences.

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Autumn Leaves Shared with Others

It dawned on me that many tree leaves are shared in one form or another. Mine get blown over the wall on to the road and into neighbors gardens. The ones that are collected and bagged to make leaf mold are shared with worms and micro organisms in the circle of life. Those under hedges do more good than harm.

Municipal trees are planted in public spaces and a careful selection of species can produce wonderful autumn colours and vibrant spring shoots. Young children get an early hands on experience of nature if they collect fallen leaves. A bit of encouragement and sharing of adult knowledge may engender a life times interest.

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My Tips for Planting Bare Root Trees

Capture more carbon with some trees as a contribution to a better environment. Whips, trees, hedging and field grown saplings are available without the excess packaging of plastic pots and gaudy plastic labels. They are also great value.

Quick Tips

  • Bare root trees, as they ‘say on the tin’ (or not the plant pot) are loose and free of a soil ball.
  • Late autumn to early spring are the best time for planting trees that are supplied from free grown ground.
  • Select a suitable site bearing in mind sun/shade wind direction and visual expectations.
  • Prepare a hole larger than the full extent of the roots so they can be spread out.
  • Break up the soil at the bottom so no hard pan can form a sump for excess water.

More Tips

  • Soak the roots in a bucket of water for an hour then water well after planting.
  • Trim off any broken or damaged roots with a sharp knife
  • Prior to planting place a support stake in the hole and firm the soil around the tree progressively to avoid large pockets of air.
  • Mulch with organic matter and water regularly as the tree is established.
  • Try planting some fruit trees, ornamentals or extensive hedges using bare root stock.

Learn more by watching You Tube videos

 

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Mast Year 2019

As I walked past a line of trees the beech nut husks crunched under foot. The pavement was strewn with copious quantities of this crunchy produce from the venerable trees. I was moved to include a few notes on nature’s masting process.

Mast Production

  • A mast year occurs when a bumper crop is produced. It has the effect of increasing the potential for reproduction but also feeds-up creatures in anticipation of a hard winter.
  • Mast seeding is also called masting and the produce is a mast
  • Mast years are so called due to the  production of many seeds by a plant every two years or so
  • Masts are often produced in in regional synchrony with other plants of the same species.
  • It is thought a mast year may be designed as a defense to assist reproduction of a species because seed predators become satiated before all the seeds have been consumed.
  • Many species ‘mast’ including oak, hickory, and beech with their acorns, hickory nuts, and as with beechnuts they produce a ‘hard mast’.
  • Fruit trees and other species may produce a soft mast but the volume of produce will still be much more fruit than normal


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Picia Perhaps? – I need to Spruce up Identification

The dew on the spiders web doesn’t worry what the plant is called conifer, Picia or a more exotic variety (I have lost the label and there are many Picias to pick from). What the spider will be interested in is the type of insect attracted to the plant and thereby the web. Below is a picture of the 5 year old plant about 2′ high and a bit more in circumference. It is a well behaved plant and worth its place in the miniature conifery I am developing.

Key Features of Picea

  • Latin name – Spruce and various forms of Picia
  • Type of tree – Evergreen, Conifer
  • Leaves – grow in a series of spirals
  • Features New growth emerges as soft tassels of delicate light green
  • Family – Picea is a genus of about 35 species in the pine family
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Judas Tree – Root and Branch Review

Judas Tree

At the heart of the Judas tree is an ornamental flowering tree with rich, pink to red, pea shaped flowers in May followed by long pods.

Key Features of the Judas Tree

  • Latin name – Cercis siliquastrum aka Flowering Judas or Love Tree
  • Height – Ornamental tree up to 35 feet
  • Type of tree – Deciduous
  • Leaves – Kidney shaped, untoothed, smooth grey-green
  • Flowers – Sweet pea-like magenta-pink
  • Fruit – Flat brown pods
  • Bark – Dark grey with ridges when mature
  • Family – Fabaceae

Leaf of Japanese judas tree

Origins and Distribution of the Judas Tree

  • Native to southern Europe, western Asia and possibly originating in Judea hence the name.
  • Just about hardy for UK gardens.

Uses and Attributes of the Judas Tree

  • Eye catching spring flowering ornamental tree.
  • Flowers are edible in salads, fried in batter or pickled as a caper substitute.
  • The wood is hard and fine grained making it suitable for veneer work
  • A popular tree in parks and ornamental gardens.

Cercis siliquastrum (I) -vainas-

Gardeners Tips for the Judas Tree

  • The flowers arrive in spring before the leaves and also bloom from old wood and stems.
  • Requires full sun and good drainage.
  • This leguminous tree has decorative, long, purple pods

Other types of Judas Tree and key species

  • Varieties include ‘Afghan Deep Purple’ ‘Bodnant’ and ‘Alba’ – white flowers and Carnea’.
  • Other Cercis include Cercis canadensis (Redbud), Cercis chinensis heart shaped leaves and Cercis racemosa drooping flowers.

Judas Tree comments from elsewhere

  • Top ten UK garden trees.
  • The Judas tree appreciates a warm spot and is a star in May when the leafless branches are adorned with lilac/pink flowers. Grow your own from seeds in February or March.
  • According to legend this is the tree on which Judas hanged himself after betraying Jesus. After Judas died the white flowers are said to have turned red with his blood and shame.
  • Avoid anywhere too exposed as the stems are rather brittle

Judas Tree

Credits
Judas Tree by Vassilis Online CC BY-SA 2.0 ‘Cercis siliquastrum, commonly known as Judas Tree, is a small deciduous tree from Southern Europe and Western Asia which is noted for its prolific display of deep-pink flowers in spring.’
Leaf of Japanese judas tree by Amehare CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Cercis siliquastrum (I) -vainas- (Pods) by .Bambo CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Judas Tree by Ava Babili CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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Roses as Center of Attraction and Attention

Roses can be a center of attraction in a photograph as these local garden subjects show. With the morning sun behind the photographer the intense colour shows through despite some risk of colour burn-out. However, for me it is the petal pattern and form that takes center stage.
Roses can also hold your center of attention for both colour and scent in many a  garden
Photographs with a dark background help with the contrast and emphasise the quality of the rose flower. A shame about the black spot on the lemon sorbet.
Is this a  hover fly or a randomly attracted flying creature that wants the nectar or to have a rest & bask in the sunshine.

Roses have been out of fashion but this summer could be the start of a Renaissance – let us hope so.

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Old Venerables and Trees That Disappear


It is hard to picture how old this tree would be had it lived. Judging by the spread of it’s roots, which were over 12 feet in diameter, it would have been some sized tree.

Up on Friars Crag near Derwentwater the remnants of this trunk are now gone. It is interesting to note that the roots are the only parts that are still rotting. Was it the moss that protected the roots?

Nearby is a monument in recognition of the writer, social reformer and artist John Ruskin’s  visit to Keswick in 1824. I would guess that was around the time the tree died to start the rotting process but that is only a guess. Ruskin was fascinated by nature and would have a better idea about this tree remnant. He build his own garden at Brantwood near Conniston Lake ‘A paradise of art and nature’

Keswick has some grand trees in a distributed arboretum in the parks and near the river Greta. Try the tree trail in Upper Fitz Park.
Continue Reading →

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Hybrid Tea and the Family Tree

First introduced in the 19th century the lineage of Hybrid Tea roses goes back to crossing or hybridising a tea rose with a hybrid perpetual rose. The first example was supposedly ‘Madame Bravy’ x ‘Madame Victor Verdier’ but many more have followed to great acclaim. One such was a rose called ‘Peace’ which has sold, under several marketing names, over 100 million plants world wide.

Hybrid Tea roses like this example of Brasilia are a group of roses that are crosses between one rose and another. In this case Piccadilly x Perfecta produced this Brasilia flower with scarlet petals reversed in pale gold.  The grandparents were  McGredy’s Yellow × Karl Herbst and Golden Scepter x Karl Herbst respectively. With 2 grandparents the same it shows how complex cross breeding became during the heyday of new rose introductions.

Another flower with reverse colour on the petals was Caramba with cherry red petals reversed with silver. It also has very dark glossy leaves. The parentage of this specimen is unknown! The name has also been sub-sumed by a ground cover rose with far less appeal.

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