Thursday, November 29, 2018

The short life of a small oak

Obsessive, compulsive gardeners have many enemies - grass is a major one as it persists in growing everywhere it is not wanted for ornamental purposes whether in gravel-strewn paved or cemented walks. Those who are trying, sporadically, to 'garden' in what used to be woodland, also have to cope with tree saplings.    These are much harder to pull up, their roots seem deeper, tougher, not even killed off by mole tunnels.  The back 'lawn' at La Chaise is a field of two/three leaved oak saplings that have been mowed.

Some trees are nourished by the parents even - or especially - after death.   Here an oak sapling cannibal nursery.

A couple of years ago an oak sapling installed itself in the chicken house wall. Its first year I thought 'how photogenic, how cute'.   The second year I began to imagine what oak tree roots could do to a rough stone wall barely held together by ancient mortar.  The third year I would tentatively pull at it to see if it would let go. A trickle of dried mortar said not. Ever courageous, ever busy - the decision was postponed.

Look at me!   About to be a tree in the wrong place.
 Instead I pondered how on earth an acorn could have got into a crack, any crack, never mind that particular one, in a stone wall.   Chickens could not have done it, the beaks are too small to keep acorns whole.    Perhaps one of our many red squirrels (yes, please note boast, we have several pairs of red squirrels insofar as we can tell one from another) decided it would be a good hiding place.  And, since the sapling already showed about ten leaves, it must have been there some time, at least three years. So no traces of rodent scratches left after the torrential rains.

It might have been the grandchildren - but I have never seen the boys show any interest in acorns.   Sometimes they post them down mole holes and jump the mole hills flat.  The rain storms had considerably curtailed their outside fun anyway.   When the rain stopped, the sun and warmth returned and their attention turned to the pool.

The warmth gradually became excessive and pool time was postponed until later and later in the day. Even the chickens started to sulk and hide under bushes. Egg laying was definitely off.

This is what the sun did.

It solved my problem but I was still a little sad.