Archives for posts with tag: trees

A couple of our mature trees had rotten cores, so we felled them as a preemptive measure (Souness style, we got our retaliation in first). One was a horse chestnut that oozed black gunk out of a gaping hole. That is hopefully going to sprout from the base again and there are shoots there ready to go. I have also sown some conkers to grow some replacements if the sprouting doesn’t work.

The second tree is maybe a Lawson’s cypress or maybe a western red cedar, not managed to pin that one down yet.The leaves and reddish cones look like Lawson’s cypress but the really pungent wood suggest maybe western red ceder (the leaves would match that possibly). Either way, I’ll make something out of it rather than burn it.

It had holes in its base that we could get a fist into (on three sides). It was a fine tree and it’s a shame it had to go. So far our plans are to replace it with a damson and something else (a seedling horse chestnut or a magnolia perhaps).

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As the stump won’t regrow, I turned it into a noughts and crosses board. This has been on my wishlist since we moved here.

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K for the win!


The first WWOOFers of the year are here and they planted some apple trees today. The two varieties are cider apples: Porter’s Perfection and Stoke Red. Our WWOOFers are American, so they call cider “hard cider” and apple juice “cider.”

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I was slightly pessimistic about getting a spade in the ground as we’ve had a couple of days of frost. We gave it a go and found the ground yielded pretty easily; the bracken blanket kept it at a workable temperature, I think. So off they went, into the orchard extension.

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We’ve grown out of the original west-facing slope and are now on a gentler south-facing slope towards the woodland planting. You can see a couple of the original tree tubes to the top-left of the photo above.

To protect the new plantings from the deer and allow me to form a low goblet shape, the WWOOFers erected wide chicken wire guards instead of using the narrow tree tubes. Once I’ve lopped off the leader I’m going to attempt some grafting. There is a rootstock planted just down the hill from these trees.

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The copse in the garden has snow drops in the early spring, a carpet of bluebells later on, and is full of red campion and other wild flowers in the summer. To encourage all these plants, we’ve started a wild-flower mowing regime, where we cut after the summer wild flowers have set their seed. This year WWOOFer Jan did the cutting and much of the initial grass gathering.

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This sat to dry for a while so we could shake the seeds free before removing the hay. In one of our more optimistic moods, we thought we could maybe save it for use as hay later in the year. We don’t have a building for it so we’ll try primitive haystacks. I think it’ll end up as tree mulch.

For the final gathering we roped in some traditional hay-making labour:

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I think it’s allowed if it’s your own children.

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Today we planted the last tree in the new woods. The morning was miserable and wet, so we waited until the predicted sun came out in the afternoon. The burn was running very fast and very cloudy after the rain. It’s been burbling along with clear water every time we’ve been down over the last week.

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Kester and Arthur were down to help. Arthur lost his welly in the mud, got burn water in his welly by standing in the burn, and got stuck up a tree. A good day out. Kester’s average was not so impressive, he mainly went on strike and pretended to fall over a lot.

He recovered long enough to help me plant the final tree.

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We’ve had a planting party, extra WWOOFers (one for a day here and there, one for five days), a rural studies class from Kirkcudbright Academy, and friends dropping in every so often. So that leaves us with 200 or so trees left of the original 1020. Here is the finished marshy area at the far west of the field.

P1030335 (Large)80ish of the remaining trees are to go into the large area next to the existing trees, next to the drainage ditch. The rest of this area was planted by the Kirkcudbright Academy pupils, their teachers, and our WWOOFers in a riot of tree planting (Veronika on the left and Korrasut the five-day WWOOFer on the right):

P1030337 (Large)The final 120 are going into the area next to the burn at a much slower rate; our WWOOFers leave on Wednesday and are cutting the grass and mulching tomorrow.

Veronika and I have begun planting trees. We’re planting up the boundaries with the smaller, shrubbier species to help define the planting areas a bit and to spot any wrinkles in the tree-planting process.

We’re doing the shrubbier species at the edges to grade the boundaries a little, as a natural wood may do. In other words, smaller trees at the edge with the larger ones in the middle, each size taking up its own layer in the available light. By the end of today, we’d done the edge of our biggest planting area ready to be filled in.

P1030331 (Large)So far this is 100 trees in two mornings, which equates to four weeks’ worth of work for me and a WWOOFer. You can see why a planting party is a good idea.

We are getting faster as we improve the planting technique, which means that when people arrive to for the planting party I’ll have a decent process ready to go. This is the current iteration of the process, using at least four people per team, which is my estimate based on the number of people who say they’ll be coming:

  1. The measurer takes the stakes and marks out the location of each tree by quickly stabbing a stake in the ground. This allows all holes and trees to be spotted right from the start by any people following on. We lost a few holes in the marshy ground before starting this technique. The measurer becomes the staker at step 5.
  2. The distributor then distributes the tree guards to each stake position. All the hardware is now where it needs to be. The distributor becomes the protector at step 6.
  3. The digger digs a straight slit (bare round) or a t-shape (grass) next to each stake. The digger can help stake or attach guards when they are finished.
  4. The planter plants a tree in each slit. The planter can help stake or attach guards when they are finished.
  5. The staker positions the stake properly and bangs it in. The stake goes on the windward side of the tree.
  6. The protector places a tree guard over every tree and attaches the guard to each stake. Each guard has a lip that is designed to avoid rubbing (it bends out the way so the tree doesn’t rub on the hard plastic rim). This should be at the top of the guard.

With two people on a team, the measurer becomes the digger then the staker and the distributor becomes the planter then the protector. The first two steps can be done by a few people until their roles are needed, I imagine. As some of this is still theory based on our planting today, it could change.

Veronika finished the morning by planting the banks of the ditch nearest the burn. It looked beautiful with the tiny trees and I’m hopeful it’ll just get better. I’ve promised to send Veronika a photo in 20 years.

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We took delivery of the trees this morning, only four days late after a classic delivery farce. Glossing over that, WWOOFer Veronika and I piled 1,000 stakes by the gate, stacked 1,000 tree guards in the field and put 1,000 trees into the garage. It didn’t actually take us very long because it’s all neatly packed into bundles; the real work will be getting all that into the field, separated and planted. Here is what 1,000 trees looks like:

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Not quite a wood yet (just add 15 years and voila).

P1030320 (Large)We’ve got five planting areas, split into wet and dry. Wet areas are getting willows, alder and bird cherry; dry areas are getting oak, birch and hawthorn. The photo shows the trees that are going into our little marshy area at the east of the field: alder (Alnus glutinosa), bird cherry (Prunus padus), goat willow (Salix caprea) and grey willow (Salix cinerea).