plant-collecting on the A701

I travel many miles looking for aspen. No Populus tremula at Dawyck Botanic Gardens (a kind of Tree Zoo). Down the A701: a grove by the side of the road.

I have permission to take a root cutting, but no-one to tell me which tree. Check the ID book: yes, it has diamond marks on its bark.

and sharp-ended leaf buds on brown stems:

Ok, dig. Looking for thick roots – just find strings. Wrongly assume need to dig deeper. My spade too big and too blunt. Lots of stones. A personable man and his son stop in a big green 4×4 to check I am not burying a body. Eventually work out that the roots get thicker and nearer the surface as you get away from the main stem. Find a wee sucker and that is where I find a finger-sized root. Use hands to pull it out together with a big pair of choppers, glad I brought them along.

Aspen grow on me, a wild presence, self-cloning their way along the burn.

I read later why I had to move away from the tree to find a runner – aspens defeat death with death:

Each of the morphological structures known as rhizome, stolon, runner [&c] undergo vegetative multiplication by death and decay of old tissue … Death of the stolon or runner separates these rooted and now independent daughter plants, each of which is termed a ramet.  The ramets produced from one parent collectively form a genet or clone. (Plant Form, written by A Bell, drawn by A Bryan, p 206.)

Aspens quietly suckering their way as they can, commandeering space in the few corners they have left.

Fragments of this genet now sectioned, sandwiched with No 3 John Innes, set at 18 degrees C in a propagator.

Rhizomatic action seems to assume a rather purposeful and linear form, when biotic survival is concerned.

This particular aspen grove cannot be sure of its survival, I am told by its manager – too close to a planned access road for wind turbines.  So now, what are now more numerous, wind turbines or aspens? I am also told that a wind turbine has vast concrete roots.  I’d like to chip away at that too, and propagate a tiddler, on a community scale.

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