Thursday, May 15, 2008
The leaves are come now. Over the next few weeks the only changes that will be seen is the slow darkening and toughening of the leaves. Little seedling oaks springing up under the big one, only to be eaten by the caterpillars that fall from the tree canopy when it rains. Acorns that fall rarely live beyond a year. Those that produce oaks are normally transported elsewhere by jays or other birds or animals. Come the middle of August oaks bring out more leaves the "Lamas Growth."
I will try to photograph that and will follow the progress of the oak apples from time to time. See a previous post for more about them. Soon I hope to put up a slideshow of the changes since last October. Meanwhile you can follow other trees in the sister blog Treewatch.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
October lots of leaves but starting to turn
November the leaves are falling
December no leaves, and start of March just a hint of the buds.
The end of April and the beginning of May. The leaves are back.
As well as the big oak I have been taking pictures of another smaller oak (probably about 60 years old and still quite small). These are the pictures from the end of October fully leaved after the summer to the start of May. Fully leaved in new green.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
First day of May and the leaves are getting thicker. I saw my first New Forest foal this morning. Standing awkwardly on it's four legs, with the legs spread out slightly wider at the bottom. They are tall but very thin and narrow. Didn't get a pic. Let's hope I find one under the tree.
I didn't photograph the foal but I did find an oak apple on a tree where I have been photographing the buds as they develop. Oak apples are the home of the larvae of gall wasps. In spring the gall wasps lay eggs in the leaf buds of oak and some chemical in the eggs causes the oak to develop these protective "apples" where the larvae live and are fed by the oak. Seems a bit improbable doesn't it? ... but you haven't heard the half of it.
This type of gall wasp (there are about a dozen that live on oak trees) is called Biorhiza Pallida. Alternate generations can fly. The flying ones are sexed and the females mate and lay eggs on the roots of oak trees. These eggs cause another type of gall on the roots. Eventually a flightless all-female generation is born from these galls. This generation all crawl up the trees and lays eggs in the leaf buds that cause the oak apples to grow. How did it all start? Which generation came first? You might well ask but don't expect a sensible answer.
Here is a picture of the wasps, presumably the wingless generation on the first and the winged second. These pics are taken from a German beetle site. The first pic is by B Belman and the second by R Werner. The site is:
I shouldn't really have used them but I thought you would like to see the pics
The galls seem to be all over this particular oak. I suppose lots of wasps laid eggs in its roots. It is less healthy than the main oak. I wonder if galls come more on old oaks like ivy. Or if they actually harm the oak. Anyone know?
PS Oak Apple day is May 29 to celebrate the restoration of Charles II who had previously hid in an oak tree at some battle or the other. People wore oak apples.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Tomorrow will be different.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Sunday, April 6, 2008
For the first time for maybe ten years we had snow today. Quite a lot of it. I was out to take pictures while it was still falling.
The green that we saw coming was covered in white. But not for long. Unlike the few sad remaining daffodils the oak will come through unmoved. Tomorrow it will be greener still.
Friday, April 4, 2008
Now for sure the green is there for real. You're not left wondering whether it is your fond imagination that sees a green halo around the tree. It's there the tree is green al around.
The buds start opening from the top with the lower ones not open yet. Like leaf-fall, leaf appearance is sudden. We've just had three or four warm days and suddenly the leaves are starting to open. Oh wonder of wonders!
Here you can see them looking up into the branches.
And here is a close up of the new leaves and the little oak flowers.
Friday, March 28, 2008
There's a smidgen of a smidgen of colour round the oak
Like a little misty halo, like a shifting orange smoke.
There's a whisper of a whisper of flowers on the ash
Like tiny threads of cotton, like a greeny-yellow rash.
And for sure, there on the chestnut, there's a swelling sticky bud
(Though the fields around are soaking and the cows knee deep in mud.)
And the primroses are blooming, and it's fast becoming clear
There's a rumour of a rumour that spring is really here.
When the sun is weak and the nights are long
You hear earth singing a different song.
The mist rises white from the grass all around
Life stirs in its sleep underneath the ground.
The deep dark earth, soon to be our home,
This is the place from where visions come.
The visions rise and seem to me
As solid as the trunk of the old oak tree.
And none would believe them if they didn't know
That something like the oak from dull earth would grow.
And just as improbable and just as odd
To this dark earth came the son of god.