Friday, April 29, 2011

Early Flowers

The spring wild flowers are taking their time this spring. It has been a very rainy and cool April. Here is a picture of a bloodroot and some trilliums that were rescued from the beaver pond area of Kanata last summer. The area was cut over this winter in preparation for blasting and a new housing development. It's nice to see a tiny bit of the South March Highlands survive. In the picture with the trilliums is some garlic mustard, a shade loving invasive species that also flowers in the spring time. It is widespread under the trees of the 1995 planting on the east side and in the northeast corner.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Winter Damage

Rabbits and rodents aren't the only sources of winter damage for the trees on the berm. The spray from the road is also a problem. In winter the city occasionally puts salts on the road to keep ice from forming. The wind and the tires can then pick up this salty water and carry the spray over onto the trees. The trees closest to the road will get hit the hardest. This spring some of the small spruce seedlings seem to have gotten hit especially hard. It seems(See picture below) like on some of the seedlings the side facing the road got hit worse than the side away from the road.

The city forester said this is especially a problem for evergreen trees as they keep their foliage on through the winter and so it will get coated by the salty water. Other than the seedlings though the pine, spruce and fir trees don't seem too badly off. Perhaps I am wrong to ascribe the damage to salt spray. The trees are more than 10m from the road and there was little evidence on the snow of salt spray over the winter (you might expect sand and other particulates from the road to be blown with the spray). An alternative reason for the damage could be that the seedlings got too much sun. Many of the seedlings would have been partially shaded by the grass over the late summer and fall. Perhaps they weren't prepared for the intense sun when the grass was matted down by the snow. If the snow layer had been thick enough the snow would have covered the seedlings as well but last winter we did not get a lot of snow and the seedling spruce trees probably were poking out from the snow cover for much of the winter.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Speckled Alder

The buds on many trees have been swelling this past week. The speckled alder gets a really early jump on the season. Their catkins are out. The catkins are developed in the fall but stay closed until spring when they swell up. A single catkin can produce a large amount of yellow powdery pollen. Close by the showy yellow pollen producing catkins are the much smaller fertile catkins that look like a very small red pine cone.
In the picture below there are some open yellow catkins, some brown catkins that are not yet open and above them on the same twig the small red pine cone like female flowers. There are also a few buds that are just about to open in the picture. The bud of the speckled alder stays covered in a protective brown covering until it is quite large (1cm long) and then opens up rapidly into a large toothed leaf. If you want to learn more this link contains more information. One interesting thing about the alder is that it fixes nitrogen and thus improves soil fertility.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Getting organized for 2011

We're getting organized for the 2011 tree planting event. We received our official approval on Friday and went out for a site visit with the tree person from the city. Here is a map to the planned area for 2011.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Bugs are out

So I walked through the square on Wednesday to check out the meadow vole damage. It was the first nice warm day in a long while. Before that we had had about a weak of weather that rarely got much above freezing. The snow was gone but the ground was still frozen. But nevertheless there were a multitude of little black spiders hopping and scurrying over the long grass. I saw about 2 for every step I took. The spiders were limited to the long grass, and when walking over the mowed areas no spiders were evident. I also saw a small fly so insect life has definitely come back to the field for a new year.

There was surprisingly little rodent damage to the trees in the square. None of the trees look like they are toppling over and I didn't see evidence of girdling by mice. It was a totally different story on the west side where the new trees got severely hit by either the rabbits or the mice. Any tree that didn't have plastic protecting around the trunk looks to be girdled.

I didn't visit the north side of the berm as winter still had a hold there.