Salty Sam’s Fun Blog for Children

Number 435

Amazing Trees


Hello Everyone




Bill and Bob collected some tree seeds last autumn and put them in pots in the garden.


Over the winter the compost in the pots got very cold and then in the spring some of the seeds sprouted.


Not all of the seeds sprouted, but the plants that did grow are now about 30cm tall.


Their dad said that the trees would be so big one day that there was no way there would be room for them all in their little back garden.


He said that they would wait until the trees got a little bigger and in a couple of years they could put them over in the park and the boys could see them growing from their bedroom window.


They thought that was a wonderful idea.


They really thought they had done ‘their bit’ for global warming – every little thing that everyone does helps.  That is what Miss Pringle says anyway.


The boys had helped Auntie Alice put some willow cuttings that she had grown along the river banks a while back.  Willows stabilize river banks.


They were keen to grow their own little trees too and putting them at the side of the park behind their cottage seemed to be a very good idea.


When they had decided which trees had successfully germinated they wanted to find out more about the seeds and cuttings they had planted.



This is what their research uncovered…


Willow trees are sometimes called sallows.  Their botanical name is Salix.


Most Salix trees will root very easily. 


lf a twig breaks off a willow growing by a river, it can drift downstream and get stuck in a muddy bank where it might root and grow.  (ln fact they were used in Australia to stabilize banks and have become invasive – that means they have too many of them now.)


This could be a weeping willow or crack willow; there are over 400 species in cool regions of the northern hemisphere.  They like to drink a lot of water so you will find them happily growing in moist soil.  They like to spread their roots a long way so they aren’t the best trees to plant in towns where there are lots of houses and drains.


For many hundreds of years, infusions of willow bark were used to treat pain and fever.  Eventually chemists manufactured the acid it contains into aspirin.


This acid is called salicylic acid – from a Salix tree.


The weeping willow that is so recognizable comes from China but other willows originate in Europe. 


ln Celtic culture, harps were made from willow wood. 


Around the world the willow is important in folklore and religious ceremonies.


There are many willows that man has created by cross-breeding.


Willows are what we call dioecious.  That means that there are boy willow trees and girl willow trees.


Some butterfly caterpillars feed on their leaves and bees feed on the flowers which are among the earliest to appear in spring.


Ancient man used willow branches to make baskets to carry things in and catch fish and also fences to keep livestock penned in.  The branches are very bendy and so are easy to work with.


You might have a willow tunnel or tepee in your school playground.


Nowadays, the wood is used to make cricket bats and others useful tools and items.


lt is also used as biofuel because it grows so quickly – and then re-grows quickly after harvesting.


Your school might use biofuel to stoke you heating system.



The silver birch is found across Europe and southwest Asia. 


The seeds Bill and Bob collected where minute and they had to keep them in an envelope to bring them home.  lf they had put them in their pockets they would have been lost! 


Because they are so small and light, the seeds carry very easily on the wind.


The seeds are loved by many species of bird as food.


The silver birch trunk is very white in colour and can shed papery sheets of bark from its trunk.  The leaves are very small so cast a very light shade in summer.  Other plants find it easy to grow underneath silver birches because there is enough light for them.


The silver birch has many associations with mythology in Scandinavia and Russia. ln Russian folklore it is called the Lady of the forest. 


lt is sometimes used to make besoms – you know, the kind of brooms that witches ride on with all the bristly sticks at the end.


Europeans use the hard wood to make furniture and toys and the bark can be used in medicines.


These trees grow for about a hundred years.  They can tolerate cold winters so you will find them growing in northerly climates and as far south as Spain and China. 


ln North America the silver birch is known as the European white birch.  lt is also found in Australia.


Silver birch thrives in dry woodlands and heaths and feeds many insects and moth caterpillars. 


You will often find fly agaric fungi growing near silver birch.  You may not recognize this name but l know that you will know the red toadstools with white spots on them that are seen in storybooks with fairy folk sitting on top.


Silver birch is monoecious.  That means there are male and female flowers growing on the same tree.


This tree is called a pioneer species.  That means it is often the first tree to colonize bare slopes after forest fires have swept through or mines have been abandoned and there is nothing left but bare earth or even shale (small sharp stones).


This is a good tree to grow in towns because it never gets to be enormous and it can tolerate pollution quite well.


lt is the national tree of Russia and Finland.  The Ornäs birch is the national tree of Sweden.


Another tree you will see plenty of in British towns is the linden tree; it is more commonly called the lime tree.  They do not of course grow the limes that look like green lemons!


They are called basswood in North America.


The linden is a tall tree growing up to 40m tall; its leaves are almost heart-shaped.


They are found across the northern hemisphere across America, Europe and Asia.


Lindens have fragrant flowers which are important food for bees and edible leaves that humans can eat.  The flowers can make a tisane that can be soothing to the nerves and digestive system.  The inner bark was once used to make ropes and very coarse fabric.


They are often planted along the roadsides in our cities; they grow happily in sun or shade.  They have a sap that ants use (without harming the tree).  But this sap leaves a sticky residue on cars that are left parked underneath and this does not please their owners.


Lindens grow very tall, up to 40 metres and can live for up to 1,000 years.


The wood is very useful for intricate carving because it is so soft.  lt can be made into parts of all sorts of different musical instruments like guitars and drums.


lt was known as a sacred tree in parts of central Europe and is the national tree of Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia.


Lindens are hermaphroditic, which means that their flowers have male and female parts to them.


The seeds are easy to spot; they look like little cherry pips hanging down on stalks.  Bill and Bob found plenty of them to pot up.



Bill and Bob found plenty of hornbeam seeds too.


They are small nuts that look like balls which are held in a very distinctive three-pointed cover called a bract.  The seeds hang down in groups from the branches.  Some birds like eating them.  These little strings are called seed catkins.


The hornbeam is found in most of Europe.  There are many species around the world but the ones you usually see in Britain can be easily recognized by the distinctive shape that the tree grows into.  lt has branches that grow very closely together. 


Hornbeam is prized for its tough wood which is used to make long-lasting parts of machinery like cogs in old windmills and watermills, also chopping blocks, coach wheels, ox-yokes and parts of pianos.  All these things need to be very strong.


People have referred to it as ‘iron wood’ because it very quickly blunts tools of carpenters that work on it.


Hornbeams can be used to create dense hedging – and in folklore, it was said that these hedges could harbour goblins.  These trees can live for over three hundred years which should please the goblins if they don’t feel like moving house very often.


Like beech trees, hornbeams don’t lose their leaves in winter when they are very young (and short) so the hedges remain good cover for nesting birds and small mammals.  These leaves also provide food for some moth caterpillars. 


The leaves have serrated edges; that means like a zigzag.


ln the medicines that our ancestors made from plants, the leaves were used to stop bleeding and treat wounds and were also made into eye lotion.  A tonic made from hornbeam was said to relieve tiredness.


Of course, all of these trees are deciduous. Deciduous trees lose their leaves in the winter. 


ln autumn they start to pull the chemical which makes the leaves green (called chlorophyll) out of the leaves and store it under their bark and at the same time they push toxins into the leaves so that they can detoxify themselves and keep healthy.


So if you plant tree seeds and they drop their leaves and look dead, don’t worry, they are just going to sleep for the winter, and you can look forward to them sprouting again in the spring.


So we shall see how these little trees get on.


Bill and Bob will have to remember to water them through the summer to keep them growing.



lf you like my blog, please support it by telling all your friends and followers about it.


Thank you!


And see you again next Fun Friday!


Love and kisses



Salty Sam





Bill and Bob’s Joke of the Weekjokejoke


Bill:  Did you hear about the kidnapping in the park?


Bob:  No?


Bill:  They woke him up!



Salty Sam © Christina Sinclair 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of material from this blog without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited.

Links may be used to



Picture Gallery


Crack willow


Silver birch


Silver birch


Norse rune for birch tree


The seeds of the linden are like tiny balls




The seeds of the hornbeam hang down in strings


As the summer progresses the seeds become brown









This week I heard a bit of gossip in the Post Office that is going around town.

That Mandy Livers, the post mistress, is the fountain of all knowledge in Rocky Bay, I think!

Apparently, the Mayor of Rocky Bay was taking a stroll around town when he saw some gardeners in the employ of the Rocky Bay District Council strimming some of the grass verges with petrol strimmers.

He really didn’t think that the terrible noise they were making and the fumes they were pumping out of the top was a good idea.



He has now decided that any grass margins that can’t be mown with a tractor mower will be left to grow long in the summer.

Any new trees planted can have mulch put around the base so that the grass won’t choke the little saplings.  The big trees will be able to cope.

Of course, some places will look a bit wilder than usual; but the yellow flowers of the creeping lettuce and the white daisies will look really pretty and the pollinating insects and little butterflies will use them as food sources.

The Rocky Bay District Council won’t be buying any more petrol strimmers and the gardeners will have one less job to do.











Quick Quiz


What do these terms mean?


  1. Pre-loved
  2. Re-use
  3. Repurposing
  4. Upcycling
  5. Recycling
  6. Endangered species
  7. Conservation
  8. Citizen science
  9. Wildlife corridors
  10. Re-wilding



Parks can be places for people and nature





lt’s the Weekend!




When you keep things in a drawer they become much more organized when you divide the drawer up with drawer dividers or a series of storage boxes and trays.

It is easier to find things that are neatly stored than in a jumble.

If you wanted to repurpose vegetable and mushroom boxes from the supermarket as storage boxes, they might look a bit dull.

Here is a way to brighten them up and practise your knitting skills at the same time.



The lining is made in moss stitch so that the corners will not curl up.  You could use garter stitch instead but the finished article will not look as fine.

The two little bags match the lining and can be used to neatly store away tiny objects.



The liner measures 11cm by 14.5cm or 4½ by 5¾ inches.

If the box you want to line is of a different size, cast on 2 stitches for every centimetre then add three stitches.  You must have an uneven number of stitches for this pattern.

Remember that the base of your box is very likely to be smaller than the rim at the top.

Once you have the right number of stitches on your needle for the width you just keep knitting until your piece of knitting is long enough.

Keep a note of how many stitches you have cast on and how many rows you have knitted if you want to line several boxes of the same size to keep in your drawers.  Then make all the liners the same size to match.

If you use white or very pale colours inside clear plastic boxes, the liners will not be as obvious as the one in the photograph, they will just give you a plush bottom for your repurposed boxes.

Don’t use these liners under things that will leak, like: pens and bottles of ink.  It will be much easier to wash out the plastic tray or even recycle it.





Using 4mm knitting needles and orange dk yarn cast on 23 stitches


Slip 1 stitch, knit 1 stitch, purl 1 stitch

Repeat the last 2 stitches to the end of the row


Repeat this row 47 times (48 rows)


Cast off



Using 4mm knitting needles and orange dk yarn cast on 11 stitches


Slip 1 stitch, knit 1 stitch, purl 1 stitch

Repeat the last 2 stitches to the end of the row


Repeat this row 15 times (16 rows)


Cast off



Using 4mm knitting needles and orange dk yarn cast on 11 stitches


Slip 1 stitch, knit 1 stitch, purl 1 stitch

Repeat the last 2 stitches to the end of the row


Repeat this row 29 times (30 rows)


Knit 1 row

Purl 1 row


Cast off



Using over-sew stitches and right sides together attach the bottom of the sides to the edges of the base – (you will have made a cross)

Then sew the sides together up the corners

Turn the bag the right way out

Thread a length of white yarn 60cm long through the top of the bag weaving it in and out around every knitted stitch

Tie the ends of the cord together

Neaten off the ends with decorative beads



Using 4mm knitting needles and orange dk yarn cast on 19 stitches


Slip 1 stitch, knit 1 stitch, purl 1 stitch

Repeat the last 2 stitches to the end of the row


Repeat this row 29 times (30 rows)


Knit 1 row

Purl 1 row


Cast off



Using over-sew stitches and right sides together sew along the sides and base

Thread a length of white yarn 30cm long through the top of the bag weaving it in and out around every knitted stitch

Tie the ends of the cord together

Neaten off the ends with a decorative bead




Please note that the material on this blog is for personal use and for use in classrooms only.

It is a copyright infringement and, therefore, illegal under international law to sell items made with these patterns.

Use of the toys and projects is at your own risk.

©Christina Sinclair Designs 2015sand



Quick Quiz Answers


  1. Pre-loved – passing something on to someone else to use like a car (second-hand)
  2. Re-use – to use again, like using a refillable metal water bottle to take to school instead of a buying a plastic bottle of water every day
  3. Repurposing – using something again but in a different way, like using plastic mushroom boxes as drawer dividers to keep stationery in
  4. Up-cycling – taking something old and giving it a new lease of life, like recovering an arm chair or painting an old bookcase with colourful paints
  5. Recycling – using materials to make new objects, like turning plastic waste into crates or gutter pipes
  6. Endangered species – numbers of a species drop to a worryingly low level
  7. Conservation – taking measures to protect nature
  8. Citizen science – citizens sending scientists information about what they have observed so that the scientists can compile data relating to numbers/habits/movement of animals or plants
  9. Wildlife corridors – patches of plant life that create habitats and feeding places for wildlife, helping them to move from place to place
  10. Re-wilding – restoring ecosystems so that nature has a chance to thrive and take care of itself


A very tame heron living in a park



Over 60 species of plant become extinct

on Planet Earth every month!


  • Damien says:

    I genuinely appreciate this website. Thank you for all your hard work.

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