Tree following – April

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.

Common Alder in April

Common Alder in April

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!)

Ground Ivy - I think!

Ground Ivy  (I think…)

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?

Leaves emerging - Common Alder

Leaves emerging – Common Alder

20 responses to “Tree following – April

  1. I find the unfurling of leaves even more engaging than blossom. By next month I expect it will look very different.

    • I do love me some blossom. But I agree, there is something fascinating and beautiful about fresh leaves uncurling. Thank you for starting this project/meme, by the way – it’s so lovely having that little push to really, really look…It’s made me pay more attention to other trees, too, not just my alder.

  2. I didn’t know that Venice was built on piles of Alder. That is the great thing about this tree following. You dig up such interesting facts. We are all becoming tree experts by reading each other’s posts.

    • Well – I just read the thing about Venice on the Kew website, I think it’s a story rather than a proven fact, but it would make sense, given that alder doesn’t rot easily. And yes – I’m really enjoying other Tree Following posts – it’s weirdly fascinating, isn’t it? I will visit your Mulberry now!

    • I think it’s possible to join in anytime, if you fancy Tree Following too (apologies if you are already!) I’ve found the other posts on the Loose and Leafy website fascinating – there are lots of people joining in, it seems, and many different trees are being discussed. There are several species I’m really interested in finding out about, so it’s been great to read up about them and see them ‘up close’, as it were, through other blogs.

      • I am enjoying looking through her really helpful site, there are so many thoroughly helpful links. I shall try to join in, we live in a lane with lots of Alders, I walk past them with my dog everyday, that was a good tree to choose.

    • They are pretty, the leaves, aren’t they? I’d kind of ignored alders in the past, before researching suitable trees for a windbreak. I’m enjoying finding out about them now, they seem rather underrated!

    • Glad you like Alders too! I love all the bright spring green – everything looks amazing at the moment, I think it’s one of my favourite times of year.

  3. I must check out and see if I can find Alder for planting here, now that you mention it’s use as a fuel. What kind rotation should it be cut at?

    • Hi Eddy – sorry for the slow reply. I believe alder is cut on a rotation of up to 15 years. There’s lots more info here – ww.biomassenergycentre.org.uk We planted ours in 2012, so hopefully we’ll have a harvest in say 10-13 years!

  4. Pingback: Glechoma hederacea | Find Me A Cure·

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