Tuesday, 15 September 2015

A Wildwood day out

As our next planting season is approaching, we decided to pay one of our main suppliers Alba Trees a visit. The aim of the day was to get an introduction to their operation and see how our trees for this year are getting on.
 

Just one of the large area of trees growing on for planting
Jackie and Craig from Alba (in the yellow) showing round Philip, Jane, Malcolm and Ian

One of the core principles of the Wildwood project is to grow trees of local provenance - that is trees grown from seeds and/or cuttings that have been taken from natural tree stands as close to the site as possible.

Our collection sites needed to be as local as possible and similar to Carrifran, with particular attention being paid to altitude. At any given site, seed should be collected from many different trees, so as to encompass the full genetic variation within the source population. We also needed to collect seed for each species from a number of different places, to guard against the risk that some relict small populations might be inbred and thus genetically impoverished. Maximising diversity within our new populations would also ensure that even if some individuals within the planting stock turned out to be unfit for the places where we planted them, others would be better suited.
 
Extract taken from 'The Carrifran Wildwood Story'
Chapter 7, p.108
Myrtle and Philip Ashmole 2009

Our seed collection programme is carefully masterminded by a few members of the Wildwood steering group. Any collections are then sent on the same day (or as soon as) by post to the team at Alba trees who grow them into our planting stock.

This year we have a mixture of trees that may be available for planting so one of the things we wanted to get an impression of was what is definitely ready for this year and what we will leave until next year. We simply decide by taking the 'hardiest' stock, and leaving those that need a bit more toughening up for next year.

By far the most widely available stock ready for us this year are willows, in particular Downy, Tea leaved and Dark leaved willows. Most of these will be suitable for our higher montane planting. In addition we have some Juniper (also good for high up), Downy Birch and Guelder Rose.
 
Some of our willows ready to go
Some Tea leaved willows ready after just a few months
 
Philip and Craig looking at our Juniper stock
And these Guelder Rose and Bog Myrtle are ready to go

We also had a look at some of our future stock which will be ready for next year which includes Goat Willow, Grey Willow and Scots Pine.
 
These little pines will be ready for us in a few years
And these are some more of ours! We're going to be busy....
 
It was a great day out and one that was really useful for our team to get an idea of the journey from seed/cutting to tree. We even managed to get a look at what some other organisations are growing on. With around 14,000,000 trees in stock, ours seemed like a small drop in a very large, green ocean!
 
Some Sweet Chestnut being grown for the Woodland Trust
And some Dwarf Birch being grown for Trees for Life
 
Many thanks must go to Jackie and Craig at Alba for taking the time to show us around.

Lynn
Site Officer

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