Alder Trees

In my parents’ garden, there were lots of alder planted up against the fence toward the bicycle path behind our garden. The were 3-4 metres high at the time and had multiple stems and sticky leaves which I wasn’t always so keen on touching – my fingers would glue together afterwards. My brother and I persuaded my mum to give us chocolate biscuits in a basket and we would go on a picnic – often interrupted by King, our lassie dog. One time we even talked her into serving chips and bangers, Danish red ones, on her best plates, complete with camping light and table cloth on top of the concrete well cover…

The Alder plays a big role in Danish folklore and Alder Nymphs were said to sing and dance to young men on foggy nights, causing them to never come home again as they would too late discover that the girls were not who they said they were. As alder trees often grow in wet areas and can survive even with their roots completely under water there was a real risk of drowning associated with these trees.

The Danish word for Alder, El, is one of the oldest words in our language and is of the same origin as Elm which means exactly the same in both Danish and English. Names of trees are often short and some of the most stable words in a language – that’s a comforting fact somehow.

Alder wood isn’t very durable apart from under water where it will turn pitch black but last longer than any other type of wood and it has been used for bridge pillars etc. It is also used for smoking and making charcoal.

Alder has special root nodules around which certain bacteria live which produce nitrogen for the tree in return for sugar. This process makes alder really good at improving soil fertility. That’s kinda neat.

On my table, I have a plant that a friend gave to me. It’s in a glass pot and has a tiny wooden mushroom sticking up from it. Around it, he’s tied some female catkins of alder. They look sort of like cones, but they’re not really. These woody catkins are different from the male catkins and also the catkins of birch, all of which disintegrate after they have served their purpose.


Maybe tomorrow, I can tell you some random stuff about The Birch as both of these trees are in the Betulaceae family along with Hazels, Hornbeams and Ironwoods. You see, birches are some of my favourite trees and I’m sure you can’t wait to find out why…

A walk

Here is the impressions from today when I was out and about seeing the little nature path that I will be trying to get upgraded as part of my next project.

Play with me, begs the wind,
and tugs at the copper,
pushes the golden,
orange and green
into a clay-grey puddle
of captured autumn sky.

Time-lapsed clouds
race over molten lead
above the capony.

Catkins and nuts
burst like campfire
under my feet.

Puffballs spiky white,
Oysters clammed up beneath bridges,
Jew’s ear listening for the sound of elderberries
swaying in the wind
and 3 pheasant torpedos,
offset over rows of ditches.

Deer at dusk…

Dusk at midday in the drizzly
airborne dampness
of late October,
bridges leaning –
compartmentalised compartments
at Wounded Tree.

Scented Sitka.
Sudden reminders of
chainsaws, stuck trailers,
sore backs and silent rain
just like this.

The warm smell of oily
tangible fumes,
wood chips warm to the touch.
The first snow
melting down my back
and caught in dad’s eyebrows.

Accending, under sizeable oaks,
fields lie narrow
with borders of blue-deep
coniferous mystery.

Fire. Light.

Darkness wraps around me,
a blanket knitted with stars.
Hands curl
around mugs of hot chocolate.

Mind calms
restless senses
sitting beneath the ticke-ti-tick
of rain on leaves
behind me.

Long walk

Needed a day off yesterday so I went to the arboretum and poked around for a bit. I was really tired, so I had a nap on the bench in the sunlight which was quite nice – not something I would normally do, but there wasn’t a soul around, so why not…


On the way home, I had to go to the park to check whether the fungi I had seen the other day were still there – and as you can see, yes they were. I am not sure, but I think they might be amethyst deceivers.

Nature Experience Plan Result

Now I have a first edition – a couple of things I would like to do, a few things which always make me happy, a couple places to go, a theme or two and that’s it, basically. You will probably see that for me, trees are important, and that I use my camera to notice things that I would probably otherwise miss.

I wonder if you have a nature experience plan yourself? As you can see, it doesn’t have to be very elaborate and you don’t need special skills or access to amazingly special nature. It’s all about seeing what you already have or can easily get to.

I expect mine will be updated every few months too – as I find new things I want to explore, get familiar with other areas and take more photographs.

Want a look at mine?


Here is my nature experience plan.

A poem

Stubbornly oblivious to the decaying earth
the sky is practising a display of blue and fluff
beyond the red tiles, the green of the tree tops
clings to the horizon, lighter with each leaf
each acorn they drop until
the transparency of their swaying meditation
lets the rhythm of their breath
be the rhythm of the wind
and the translucency of a canopy
harbours the shade of a memory
while all things reach, while falling,
for a last frail second of suspence
before mellowing, moulding, merging
with the ground while there is still time
before the great sleep, the grating, grinding pause
of plausible applause and pinpointed pining of firs…

Today, the blue sky is already a memory.
Yesterday, it was a omen.

In 6 months, nothing is left but a rough sketch
in coal, snow and canvas – of a snowdrop
against a homecoming colour
quite like this.