Tree Tuesday

These photos of grass trees were taken by the friend of a friend who lives in Australia. She tells me,

 While driving through the bushfire zone 12kms from the caravan park, I was delighted to see signs of regrowth…. (grass trees) are already sprouting green in the landscape that was so devastated just 6 weeks ago.

… you can read all about them at bushheritage.org.au. They are also a protected species and very expensive to buy from specialist nurseries – I’ve always wanted to have one in my garden! Best of all, grass trees are very resilient and able to survive any bushfire.

©Ozzie, all rights reserved

©Ozzie, all rights reserved

Bonsai for Beginners – Part 2 – Necessary Tools

I hope I will finally be able to do this series justice since I am starting to re-pot my trees this year. Part one was here.

You do not actually need some very sophimasticated or expensive tools to start growing bonsai trees, but even if you only aspire to have one, these are the essentials that you will need. If you have a garden or potted plants, you probably already have some or even most of them.

First – not depicted – flower pot(s). Bonsai are typically grown and shown in beautiful elaborate glazed bowls, proportioned to the tree. But ordinary flowerpot will do in a pinch – important is the plant, not the pot. Some trees can also be grown on a flat stone or a hollowed-out piece of wood etc. Anything that holds the substrate together will work, but if you intend to display the tree anywhere, the pot should be chosen accordingly. An ugly pot detracts from a beautiful plant. If you get your first bonsai tree in the form of one of the mass-produced little ones, you will probably get a passable pot with it. If you start your bonsai from a cutting or a seed, it will take several years before you need something more ornate than an ordinary flower pot. However, from the start you should keep one thing always in mind – for most bonsai styles the roots need enough space to grow to the sides, so wider and shallower pots are better than narrow deep ones.

And now for the tools on the picture, from left to right, top to bottom.

A container for storing all your tools. Whether you have one tree or many, you will usually need more than one tool at one time, so it is good to have them packed in such a way that you can take them all with you when needed, and neatly put them away when not, since they will not have any other use.

A tree balm. Either acrylic or wax/resin-based. You need something to dress cutting wounds. Acrylic-based balms are the best and some sort of ordinary acrylic paint will do too if nothing better is available. Wax/resin-based balms are perfectly OK for most conifers and for big trees, but some deciduous bonsai trees do not respond to them well, it seeps deep into the wood and can kill buds, even branches.

A mesh (plastic, glass) or pottery shards to cover the holes in the pot.

A wire. For holding the mesh over the hole and for forming the tree. Depicted here is thin steel binding wire, PVC coated. Alluminium or copper wires are better but more expensive and harder to get. A string will do in many cases, but it is more difficult to work with.

Root growth stimulator. You will need to cut roots, and in some instances, you will need to encourage the plant to grow new ones.

Charcoal. Best is low-quality charcoal from soft or rotten wood, even better one that was already lit and water-quenched several times. The reason for this is that such charcoal is very brittle and porous and can be easily crushed in fingers to a fine powder and applied to the cutting wounds. It is important for dressing bigger root wounds of all trees – it prevents fungal spores and microbes from entering them. For trees that excrete latex from wounds, it can also be applied to dry the latex quickly and seal the wound on branches and twigs too.

Bamboo BBQ skewers and chopsticks. To tease apart fine roots and comb out old substrate from the root ball when re-potting the plant.

Two pairs of pruning shears. They should be visually different, since one pair you will use for roots only, and one pair will be exclusively for branches. That is not only to prevent dragging spores from the dirt into the branches but mainly because the shears for roots will blunt faster and would tear the branches instead of cutting them neatly.

Pliers. The combination pliers will suffice since they can cut the wire too. But I have dedicated wire cutters as well.

Ordinary shears. You may need to cut leaves or very thin and fine twigs. Pruning shears are too coarse for that kind of job. Some very old shears are fine, and if you are able, grind the bevels to a steep knife-like angle.

A knife. Not only for grafting, that is improbable for a beginner, but it gets used also for cutting f.e. a piece of wood into a temporary spatula to apply tree balm.

A flat brush. To carefully clean the surface of the tree trunk without damaging the bark, to sweep away needles/leaves from exposed roots, and to tidy the surface of the substrate.

A flat hook. Or a very blunt knife or a spike or something similar to soften old hardened soil in the pot, to cut it away from the sides where it often gets stuck and to pry away more difficult root-tangles.

A trowel. Enuff said.

A substrate. Ideal substrate depends on the plant(s) you intend to grow – more on that when I will write about individual species – but most plants will survive in a substrate consisting of equal parts of coarse sand, high-quality topsoil (f.e. collected from molehills) and peat/compost. Bought substrates are OK, but I would recommend to mix them with soil and sand anyway, they contain a tad too much organic material. It is also recommended to heat any substrate, whether bought or self-made, to at least 70°C prior to planting to kill any germs it might contain. For that, you might need a tin pan and a baking oven, or a plastic bowl and a microwave.

If you start growing more trees, your toolbox will expand and no doubt you will buy some of the more beautiful and specialized ones. But all these will fit into a little bag and they are all you need to start. All the tools in the picture are ones that I am consistently using for over a decade by now, some even for several decades. None of them are expensive or difficult to get. Why buy a fancy tool, when an old one does the job just as well?

Tree Tuesday

There is one last grove of California Giant Red Sequoia trees in private hands and like all forests in the Sierra Nevada area, it is at risk of damage from environmental pressures, including a heightened risk of fire. The grove is highly important and contains some of the oldest and largest trees on the planet. Nearly 500 of the trees are over 6 feet in diameter

Now, a California conservation group is beseeching the public to step up and fund the purchase of a huge grove of the towering trees. “It’s an awe-inspiring place,” says Jessica Inwood, Parks Program Manager for the Save the Redwoods League. “It’s the last, largest giant sequoia property left in private ownership.” One sequoia on the property, the Stagg Tree, is believed to be the fifth-largest tree in the world.

Though the sequoias do not burn as frequently as other trees in Californias, the league intends to reduce tree overgrowth in order to mitigate the damage of future fires. “With fire frequency and intensity predicted to increase due to climate change and with significant fuels accumulation in the forest, the ecosystem is vulnerable to severe fire damage,” Inwood says.

The fires are nothing new, but the warm conditions that foster them are becoming more frequent, and the vast fires that result are difficult to combat. “Drought in a warmer climate is a big threat,” says Roger Bales, director of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute at the University of California Merced. “Also high-intensity wildfire, which is more likely with a warmer climate.”

The 530 acres, known as Alder Creek, currently belong to the Rouch Family, and they have signed a purchase agreement to sell the land and the trees to the Save The Redwoods League for $15 million. Now the group needs the public’s help in funding the purchase.

Story via:  Atlas Obscura from September 2019.

I will add as a happy update that thanks to people from around the world, the Save The Redwoods League has met its fundraising goals and Alder Creek is now protected. If you’d like to know more about this non-profit organization and the vital work they do, they can be found here.

 

 

Jack’s Walk

What do you see? ©voyager, all rights reserved

Sometimes Jack and I amuse ourselves by playing a game called “Tree See.” We invented the game, and the rules are simple. You look around the forest until you find an image hidden in the branches or on a fallen log and then you point and ask the other person what they see.  If you both see the same thing, the point goes to the person who found the sculpture. If you both see something different, the point goes to the second person who was asked for their opinion. It’s a silly game, really, but it helps pass the time, especially on a winter’s walk when there isn’t much to look at. Jack is better at the game than I am. I think it’s because he’s lower to the ground, but today Jack tells me that it’s because I’m a slow-witted human who lacks imagination. Ouch, Bubba, that stings.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ,

Tree Tuesday

Minnesota was logging country in the late 1800s, and as a result, most of the state’s old-growth trees were cut down. At present, only 2% of trees in Minnesota’s forests are considered old-growth, but there is an extraordinary place known as The Lost 40, where the elderly giants survive en masse. It’s an area of 144 acres of pure old-growth forest, and its survival until now is due to a mapping error.

In 1882, a surveying and mapping error made loggers believe that the entire section of the forest was underwater, so they passed through it. This area, which is actually located in the Chippewa National Forest, was therefore never logged, and the trees that were growing then continue to grow now.
The tradition of leaving the Lost 40 untouched has remained, and the forest section is still thriving as a result. There is nowhere else in the Midwest like the Lost 40, since most of the trees in other forests are much younger than this swath of centenarians growing in the Midwest.

 

 

Story via: Atlas Obscura, where you can find more photos and a small map.

Tree Tuesday

Photo by Biosphoto/Almay from Atlas Obscura

Meet Big Lonely Doug, one of the last old-growth trees left in Canada.

Big Lonely Doug—named after its species, the Douglas fir—stands tall among a clearing, a solitary specimen surrounded by stumps and logging debris. It soars about 230 feet high and its trunk is as big as a living room. Local conservationists estimate it to be between 750 and 1,200 years old.
Despite the region’s booming logging industry (a staggering 99 percent of the old-growth Douglas firs in British Colombia have been cut down) a logger spared Big Lonely Doug from being felled in 2012. No one is quite sure why this particular mature tree was saved. It turns out it is the second-largest Douglas fir in Canada.
Big Lonely Doug still stands tall, now a sad but majestic symbol of the disappearing old-growth forests of British Colombia, and the ongoing fight to save them.

You can visit Big lonely Doug, but you’ll have to hike the last 1.5 km to the site. He lives near Port Renfrew, B.C., and perhaps he’d like a bit of company, as long as you’re polite and respectful of his age and his home. There are more photos at the link below.

 

Story via: Atlas Obscura

Tree Tuesday

Photo courtesy of Sharris, from Atlas Obscura

Say hello to Canada’s knottiest tree. This massive cedar tree has a giant burl growing out of its lower trunk and lives in a grove that was discovered in 2009 and has been protected from logging since 2012.

This lush grove near Port Renfrew is filled with large western red cedars and Douglas firs. Many trees seem to be growing out of each other, with knots and burls as if there was a struggle to break free of their bark.
The highlight of the grove is Canada’s gnarliest tree, a massive cedar with a giant burl growing out of its lower trunk. This whimsical giant stands tall, overseeing the cathedral grove.

There are walking paths into the grove and visitors are welcome, but the paths can be slippery and difficult to navigate. There are more photos at the Atlas Obscura link below as well as a small map.

 

via Atlas Obscura

Tree Tuesday

photo by Canadagood, via Atlas Obscura

 

Today’s tree is a stubborn little Douglas Fir, who found an unusual and somewhat lonely place to grow.

Seventy miles from the port city of Victoria, British Columbia on Vancouver Island, a plucky arboreal wonder can be found on the quiet waters of Fairy Lake.
Living up to its name, Fairy Lake is in a remote and unspoiled landscape near the town of Port Renfrew. Sticking up out of the lake’s stillness is a submerged log. Clinging to that log for dear life is a tiny Douglas fir-tree. The log itself is a Douglas fir. As the stunted tree’s only source of support and nutrients, it feels like the dead tree made a sort of noble sacrifice to the tiny tree growing on it. Tourists, boaters and hikers come seeking it as a unique window into nature and rebirth.

The tree is referred to as the “Bonsai” tree and has been attracting lots of photographers, some even producing award-winning photos.

Photo by Shawn McCready for Atlas Obscura

Atlas Obscura says it’s easy to get to the tree and gives directions to the site at the link below. There are also a few more photos at the link. If you go, please share with us any photos you take.

Via Atlas Obscura

 

Tree Tuesday

Earlier this year VBFF sent in a chainsaw sculpture from a nearby city tour she’d taken. Today, VBFF has sent us a couple of other chainsaw made sculptures from the same visit.  Most of the statues were carved in place around the community, hoping to draw shoppers to the area and promote tourism. Here’s the link to the Tree Trunk Tour in London, Ontario, if you’d like to know more about the sculptures and how they’re made.

©VBFF, all rights reserved

©VBFF, all rights reserved

Jack’s Walk

Early December Morning, ©voyager, all rights reserved

 

We had a gentle, light dusting of snow this morning, and it was just enough to make the world look fresh and pretty for a while. That’s one of the things I like about winter, the way that snow covers a landscape with a coat of crisp, clean stillness. Ogden Nash says it much better than me, though, so I’ll let him.

 

Winter Morning Poem

Winter is the king of showmen,
Turning tree stumps into snow men
And houses into birthday cakes
And spreading sugar over lakes.
Smooth and clean and frosty white,
The world looks good enough to bite.
That’s the season to be young,
Catching snowflakes on your tongue!
Snow is snowy when it’s snowing.
I’m sorry it’s slushy when it’s going.

– Ogden Nash

Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

Well, Jack and I did venture out yesterday. Twice. About 1 in the afternoon, the sun came out for an hour or so, and the sidewalks got all melty and full of slush. It seemed like a good time to go for a walk, and so we did. It was a delightful walk, too. Sloppy and cold, but not really icy. The sun started to melt the ice off the trees and the wires, but it didn’t shine long enough to raise the temp above zero, and so today, the trees are still frosted. Jack and I went out again after supper, and the sidewalk slush had turned into rough frozen ice. It wasn’t as slippery as I’d thought. The snow that covered the ice helped rough it up, and the soles of my boots were mostly able to find traction. Even Jack managed better with only 1 slip and no falls. Today the world remains frosted with ice and snow, and I love the way things look. There’s so much more light, and it reflects like millions of tiny, shiny diamonds in the glow of streetlights at night and the short glimpses of the sun today. The walking is difficult, but not dangerous. Most people have shovelled, and what ice remains is rough and well trampled. We need to go slow and shuffle a bit, but it’s so pretty outside I don’t mind.

 

Here’s another song for today. I sing this song when I’m on the beach ins the summer looking for sea glass because they shine like diamonds when you find them. Today the whole world is made of diamonds. And of course, we’re all as bright, and beautiful as diamonds ourselves, so let’s all shine a bit today, too.