Sunday, 31 July 2016


Today in the wood on the last day of July, the rowan berries are starting to ripen - some red, some orange. Looking at the mass of berries appearing wherever the tree can find some sun, I started to think about what a very flexible tree the rowan is - and what a great survivor.

It will grow in almost any conditions.
It grows deep in the dense birch. It will grow in the pine plantation - anywhere where it can stretch towards the light. In shade it grows long and thin - but it does grow. These long spindly trees eventually bend under their own weight. They straggle through the wood, leaning on other trees and on each other. Sometimes they just topple over. But that's not the end of the story. Once on the ground, new saplings grow out from the fallen tree. It's not unusual to find a line of rowans growing in a neat row, where one fallen tree has how become four or five.
If it can find some sun, such as on the edge of the ride, it grows vigorous and sturdy - up to 40 ft and more. And in the sun of course there are berries (or officially 'pomes' as I now know I should call them after a quick trip to wikipedia). Rowan seem to be virtually indestructible: chop them down and new leaves sprout immediately. Pollard them and a wig of growth will shoot up. Rowan seedlings are everywhere. If the deer didn't eat them, we'd be waist high in rowan. As an experiment I protected a couple with tree tubes, and already the leaves are fountaining out of the top.

It's been a poor year for butterflies, but today's sun brought out a few speckled woods - seen here basking on the ride. In the long grass there were dozens of little wood frogs. This one was hopping away but I just managed a quick phone snap.