The Phoenix Larch

A tiny larch tree, six weeks old and almost two inches high.

It has been a few months since I started to fell trees in the windbreak above the farm buildings with the intention of generating some interesting new undergrowth, and I now have a pleasant reminder of one particularly massive tree felled during that process.

The huge larch which had its demise documented in this blog has bridged the generation gap, and its offspring is showing signs of future prosperity. As an idle side project, I gathered some cones from the very top of the massive tree and extracted the seeds in September. They sat in the freezer over the winter, then were planted at the end of January along with some experimental scots pine seeds.

I was totally delighted to find that after a month in the soil, the seeds showed signs of life. The larches leaped up like phoenixes from the ruins of the felled tree, and the scots pines weren’t far behind. In a year or two, they will be large enough to be planted out, and I hope that they will provide the black grouse of the future with something to eat.

It says alot about the breadth of moorland management that I can post about trapping mink and growing trees from seed in a single day, and perhaps that explains why I am more enthusiastic than ever about my project on the Chayne. I have always avoided taking things for granted on this project, and while I am delighted to receive help and support from friends, I can’t sign off on anything until I have done it myself to see how it works at first hand. Growing trees from seed is as much a part of that idea as my experiments with cutting heather (soon to be published on this blog) and building bat boxes.

As soon as I understand (or get bored) with any one element of this project, the seasons change and I have a whole new list of things to do. The one unifying theme which runs through everything I do is the hope that someday, I just might get to shoot a blackcock on the rustling grassy hills of home!

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