An expeditionary force of seedling trees suffers heavy losses

A cool rainy day after weeks of heat and drought makes it easier to take stock of what have been difficult months on the Bluecircle.  Recent rains have produced Spring-like greening of grassy areas and a proliferation of giant ragweed and other weeds where trees were planted this year.  Like an ill-prepared and prematurely deployed expeditionary force both short and tall spruce seedlings stand as brittle, naked reminders of the Summer of 2012.  In the graveyard of white spruce it will soon be time to think about tilling and planning for future plantings, but for now a simple mowing and removal of the plastic flags that mark the fallen soldiers will be enough.

Pines planted in 2011 in areas that receive some shade have tolerated the drought, while those in all-day sun have not fared so well.  Long-needled pines were more resilient than the spruce, cedar or firs, but until frosts have eliminated the competing weeds it will be unclear how much damage has been done.   A new well will enable a drip irrigation system next year and we will try to do a better job of matching soil conditions and plantings.

The hybrid poplars from 2011 are already making some shade of their own, but an attempt to introduce tulip poplars failed and only about 20% of this year’s hybrid poplar seedlings successfully rooted and made the transition from nursery to field.   Sunflowers, mostly self-seeded from the 2011 crop, provide the other bright spot amongst the ragweed and thistle.

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