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Plant Focus

A guest post by Matt Candeias, host of the In Defense of Plants podcast and blog

The Quercetum at Mallet Court: One Year On

Mallet Court Quercetum
General view of the new quercetum at Mallet Court

In 2018, the oaks (newly planted in March 2017) had a rude awakening by the harsh conditions in 2018. Between the end of May and September there was precious little rain – probably about ½ in. The ground became very dry and cracked. Despite these adverse conditions all the oaks planted not only survived but looked well. They were given almost no extra water. The oaks from western USA, for example California, were quite content. Quercus chrysolepis and Q. agrifolia retained a fresh and lustrous green foliage and put on a small amount of growth. The Asian oaks showed no distress: Quercus acutissima put on 12 in of growth and Q.variabilis exhibited some atypical red and then yellowish foliage. Will the foliage in the next season be normal? Quercus sadleriana put on no noticeable growth. Quercus aucheri which is about 9 in high did well but put on little growth. The star of the lot was Q. cerris, which was grown from acorns collected in North Greece. Planted out in March 2018 it did well and put on about 18 in of growth. In September, the leaves of Q. mongolica dropped early. Was this a defense mechanism or has it succumbed? Examined in December, the young growth on this looked dead. Other trees plants in the quercetum also did well, and these included Magnolia macrophyllum and Sequoia sempervirens. The lesson that I have learned is that once the roots have settled, the oak can withstand adverse conditions.

Quercus variabili
Quercus variabilis
Quercus variabilis
Quercus variabilis
Quercus franchetii
Quercus franchetii
Cracks in the ground
Cracks in the ground, the result of a dry summer

Photos © James Harris