The spring cleaning has revealed mixed fortunes in our woods
Published 06/05/2015 | 02:30
April was a wonderful month, especially given the great spell of fine weather in the latter few weeks. The ground had dried up well and we were kept busy drawing out the thinnings from the winter felling. It is important to remove these promptly and stack them in an airy, open place.
If this task is left until later in the year, rampant growth can occur on the woodland floor, smothering the cut lengths. With the overhead shelter of the remaining trees, the timber simply will not season.
We have one area of very disappointing oak which, given that all the other sections of oak are growing strongly, I suspect must be due to poor provenance of the original plants.
Whatever the reason, I decided that if I was to leave it untouched, it would be a wasted resource. I ruthlessly marked the trees for removal and was pleasantly surprised to find that there were in fact more good individual specimens than was evident prior to thinning.
Originally growth was so disappointing that I had added in a few thousand alder to ensure some sort of a crop. These, coupled with a large number of self-seeded ash, produced a dense but rather ragged looking woodland.
Now that the ash, alder and poor oak are gone, the entire area looks far more promising and contains the basis for a decent oak wood for my successors.
Along with the existing mix of naturally regenerating ash, sycamore and oak, next autumn we will add in an understory of eucalyptus, Italian alder, Western hemlock and Western red cedar.
The hemlock and cedar will go in the shaded areas and the eucalyptus and alder in the more open spots.