...wood for the trees
Conditions, padodes, conditions, (at least one purchase, must be made every hour, per person, when availing of our free wireless internet service, overhead sign in my local restaurant), something to that effect. The natural course of growth of a shade-demanding, coniferous tree is in its crown. Its overall shape is cylindrical with little or no lower branch development due to the shade it thrives on in the confines of its densely populated habitat. As it isn’t exposed to huge or abrupt changes in temperatures due to its crowded environ, its annual rings grow in a consistent manner, tightly compact, producing a higher grade wood. Plant the same tree out in the open and it will quickly swathe itself with branches right down to the ground to protect itself from the light and heat.
Its growth rings then develop erratically due to the fluctuation it feels in temperature and exposure to the elements. The same tree in a plantation setting eventually derives some protection from its neighbouring trees (sometimes deciduous are planted all around the perimeter of young plantations to give them some shade in the summers of their early years) and eventually with little or no lateral light getting at it, it heads straight and tall, arrow like, aiming for the sky. Over thinning a plantation tree or exposing a shade demanding tree to excessive lateral light renders it uncomfortable, a bit like taking an introvert out on a pub crawl. Instead of holding its head high it’s inclined to spend its energies wrapping and folding arms round itself, until it stands cone shaped, sulking and stunted, very overdressed, and looking decidedly more like a Christmas tree than a mighty king of the forest. The difference between how we do it here and how they do it in Sweden is again a matter of exposure (theoretically acquired this not experientially so open to correction) weighed against climate as Simon suggests, and of course what we intend using the timber for. To my knowledge, the largest cover of forestry in Ireland is in the Slieve Bloom mountains. Sitka Spruce and Lodgepole Pine predominate but you also get oak, alder, rowan, alder, holly and down in its valleys birch and willow. You may wander freely here padodes but you will not be alone. These forest stretches are home to about 65 species of bird, with fox, hare, stoat, wild goat, and fallow deer to name just a few. (For those interested in wood and forest, check out the Austrian, Viktor Schauberger (1885 -1958) and his work, a forester from a long line of foresters whose family motto ran ‘Faith in the silent forests’, or perhaps the work of his ardent follower Callum Coats, on the net or in ‘Living Energies’.) Well worth the cup of coffee per hour fee for free availability of internet services. Would you get that in Sweden?