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Posts Tagged ‘planting conkers’

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Last Saturday we went to our friend’s wedding, it was at a beautiful old hotel in the Forest of Bowland surrounded by glorious countryside, the weather couldn’t have been better it was calm, sunny and mild, the surrounding trees were looking at their best in stunning shades of gold, amber and red – it was perfect.

The groom is an Arboriculturalist, and trees played a part at their wedding, they were on the invitations, order of service and the menus, at the wedding breakfast each table had been named after a tree and at each place setting was a favour for each guest, it was a tree sapling beautifully presented in its own woven pouch. We were sat on the ‘Rowan’ table so received a Rowan tree, other tables included Beech, Sweet Chestnut, Hawthorn, Wild Cherry, Field Maple Oak, Crab Apple, Birch what a fantastic idea and a gift that will last a lifetime (ours, our children’s and grandchildren’s) it went down well with all the guests and everyone took their trees home.

Trees make a lovely and unusual gift they can be planted to mark a special occasion, the birth of a child, a wedding, birthday, retirement, mothers/fathers day, an anniversary, and also to remember someone by they are a powerful symbol representing eternity and life.

Growing your own trees

Now is the ideal time to grow your own trees, this year there is a bumper crop of tree seeds/fruits such as acorns, conkers, beech seeds and sycamore/maple/ash keys, most are now on the ground and ready to be collected. Choose seeds that are firm, undamaged and mould/disease free, place in a plastic back to retain their moisture before planting. Sow your seeds in trays, modules or pots depending on their size, in a mixture of 50% multi-purpose compost and 50% perlite or coarse grit, water the compost and allow to drain, sow your seeds to a depth of roughly the height of the seed, small seeds will only need covering lightly with compost, label with the variety and date.

To prevent the compost from drying out cover with an inflated plastic bags, cloche, plastic lid or sheet of clear Perspex, place on a cool windowsill, in a cold frame, greenhouse or polytunnel, keep the compost moist but not soggy. When your seedlings start to emerge remove the cover and when large enough (a good indicator is when you see roots growing through the bottom of the container) transplant into individual pots to grow on. In Spring harden them off and grow on outdoors, if they are large enough in Autumn plant out in their final growing position, this can be delayed a year or two to allow your trees to grow to a larger size, you will need to repot each year into a larger container to allow their roots to grow, container grown trees will need regular watering and feeding once a month with a liquid fertilizer.

If the weather is good this weekend get outdoors, collect and sow some tree seeds.

Gill

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I love Autumn; the crisp, frosty mornings when spiders webs appear to have been decorated with crystals, the misty mornings when the fields are cloaked in white and the rich, damp, earthy smells as you walk through the woods. At this time of year most of the plants in the garden have started to die back, the stars of Autumn to my mind are the trees, many of which are dazzling in their ‘coats’ of many colours and heavily laden with masses of fruits and seeds of varying colours, shapes and sizes just waiting for the perfect time and opportunity to break free and become the next generation of trees.

There are many varieties of trees where I live, I just cannot resist the temptation to collect their seeds, my favourites are conkers from the Horse Chestnut Tree and the Spinning Jennies from the Maples, Sycamores and Ashes it is lovely to watch children picking them up and throwing them into the air so that they spin round and round on their way back down, this will only work with a single seed, throw a double one up and it just comes straight down.

SYCAMORE KEYS

A Spinning Jenny is actually a winged ‘fruit’, its wing is made from fibrous papery tissue and contains the with seed at one end, they often grow in pairs but when mature they are often released singly, the correct name for them is a ‘Samara’  their shape enables the wind to carry their seed farther away from the parent tree ideally in an area where trees are not already present and where they can germinate and grow, they have many names depending on where you live they are often referred to as keys as well as wingnuts, helicopters and whirlibirds, in the North of England they are referred to as Spinning Jennies.

I have got quite a collection already if you find them in bunches they make a lovely Autumn decoration or if you are a gardener like me you can plant them and watch them grow in the spring.

The environmental Charity The Tree Council, which was founded over 40 years ago, works in partnership with schools, communities, organisations and the government to make trees matter to everyone, on the 23rd September they launched the start of the new Tree Year with Seed Gathering Season which runs until 23rd October, its aim is to encourage and inspire school children, families and groups to take part in activities to collect, sow and grow trees together to ensure the future of their green landscape for more information and events in your area have a look at their website.

If you have collected conkers and have some spare to grow click here for a guide to growing your own Horse Chestnut Tree.

Green Horse Chestnut Leaves

So get out, have fun and enjoy all that Autumn has to offer.

Love your environment

Gill

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This year has been a good year for conkers, as well as most other fruits and nuts, when we visited our local Horse Chestnut trees in October there was an abundance of spikey green shells hanging on tightly in the chilly north easterly wind, we collected about thirty beautiful, shiny brown nuggets that had fallen on the ground, enough for Thomas to play conkers with and some to plant as well.

The first record of the game of conkers is from the Isle of Wight in 1848, they originally played with snail shells! Click here to learn how to play the game of conkers.

Horse Chestnut trees were introduced from the Balkans in the late 16th Century, in the UK we have over two million trees, even though this year has been a good year for conkers the Horse Chestnut tree is under threat.

Nearly a million of our trees are infected by the tiny invasive moth larvae, known as the horse chestnut leaf miner, they burrow in the leaves which then turn brown, reducing the amount of food that the tree can absorb through photosynthesis, as well as the threat from the leaf minor another serious disease called bleeding canker is spreading too and can cause the death of the tree.

The Horse Chestnut Tree is spectacular throughout the year and one of our national treasures, if you want to help maintain the poulation why not plant some of your spare conkers.

How to grow your Horse Chestnut trees

  1. Place your conkers in a container of water, discard the ones that float these have dried out.
  2. Using only the conkers that sink, plant them about 2cm deep individually in pots of soil/compost, between now and the end of November.
  3. Water well and place in a sheltered spot outside.
  4. Protect the pots from predators i.e. squirrels, mice etc. and from hard frosts, a cold frame is ideal, keep checking them to see if they need watering, but don’t overwater.
  5. The conkers will need to go through a period of cold temperatures to encourage them to germinate in the spring.
  6. Keep your young trees watered and re-pot as they grow bigger.
  7. Ask the landowners permission before you plant your new trees into the big wide world, they can grow very large.

T and Conker Trees

We already have two healthy young trees waiting for a new home.

Happy planting

Gill

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