I have been starting to buy some of the nice plants on my annual shopping list recently. I have also added one or two that weren’t on the list but somehow I couldn’t resist! I was very excited to find some Korean pine (Pinus Koraiensis) seedlings for sale at one of the forestry nurseries in Scotland. They are quite slow growing pine trees, but should stand exposure and have large edible seeds on mature trees. I have been trying to grow them from seed for a couple of years, but only managed to get one to germinate. That was planted in the spring, down where the main trackway hits a T-junction near the river bend. It seems to be still surviving despite being so tiny you can hardly tell it from grass seedlings! The nursery also had some juniper seedlings at a fair price, so I added those on, winced at the delivery charge and awaited with excitement a package.
The juniper seedlings look fine, but I’m not sure about the Korean pines. They look decidedly yellow. There could be a number of reason for this – lack of light, nutrients or they’ve sent me a yellow pine that may or may not be Korean pine. I’ll give them a ring tomorrow and see what they say. I don’t really want golden pines in my tree field even if they are Korean pines, and I don’t want to wait twenty years to find out they are not Korean pines either, since I am in the hope that they will produce edible seeds for me in my retirement. In the meantime, I have been down and dug twelve tree planting spaces for the pines to go in: four by the lone pine and two other patches of four interplanting the edges of the dodgy Ash areas. The baby trees are being hardened off by putting outside during the day and inside at night, on the chance that they are what they should be.
Whilst I was finding spaces for trees, I also checked on where to put the baby Junipers. I thought that I had lost three of my six original seedlings. Since I thought three was not enough of a population (you need male and female plants to set berries) I bought an extra three seedlings. However, whilst checking the previously planted Juniper and deciding where to put an extra three, I was happy to find one more of the original seedlings; making a total of four that have established well. Unfortunately, I have also found, as I suspected when I planted them, that I am regretting using that carpet underlay to mulch them. It was brilliant at staying put on the slope, and did a reasonable job of keeping down the weeds, but I hate the residual stringy bits that are almost all that is left of the original mats. I have done my best to pull it out now, but the grass and weeds had embedded themselves pretty much through it, so it was a battle.
I am now dreading the thought of removing the mulch mat roll that is fully entombed in grass from the original windbreak planting near the house. I have been delinquent in not addressing that sooner, although I suspect that unless it was removed within a year it would still have been a horrid job to do. It is easy for me to postpone a job like that that doesn’t seem constructive, if that makes sense? I’m just glad I only used one strip rather than trying to mulch all the trees.
Having prepared an additional three planting positions for the juniper, I had a start at levelling the path that winds around the hump. It follows one of the original sheep trails across the slope and makes it easier to ascend the steep bit of the hill. It is really a little bit narrow, and is awkward in places, since it has quite a cross gradient which puts pressure on your ankles. By taking a double spade cut of turf on the upwards side, and using that to back fill above and reinforce the path below, the path has virtually doubled in width. I didn’t get very far this week, but feel it is worth persevering. If I do the full path down to the flatter field below, we will be able to get the mower along the path, so making walking easier in the wet.