This is my second post for the tree-following project hosted at Loose & Leafy. The idea is that you pick a tree and ‘follow’ it for a year, observing it through the seasons as a way to really get to know that particular species. I’ve picked a little Common Alder sapling (Alnus Glutinosa) that we planted in 2012. Back in February, the catkins had just emerged, along with the tiny red flower buds. Not much changed in March – but the recent weeks of warmer April weather have seen the first glossy, round leaves starting to unfurl.
At the moment there is a carpet of purple flowers growing around it – I’ve had a look in the giant Sarah Raven Wild Flowers book, and I think it’s Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea) – which is not actually an ivy, just a low, spreading, evergreen plant that provides good early forage for bees. It will be a good few years before this Alder is tall enough to start shading out the Ground Ivy and other plants growing around it (mainly thistles!)
You can read more about Alders in my February post. It is a fast-growing ‘pioneer’ species, that fixes its own nitrogen, makes a great wind-break, doesn’t mind living in wet boggy ground, and can be coppiced for fuel – so it’s a pretty useful tree to have around. The wood is also apparently very hard, and takes a long time to rot – so years ago it was often used for building boats and jetties. It is even rumoured that Venice was built on piles of Alder, apparently…
So, are you following a tree? How are you getting on?