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Oak, Ash and Thorn - new woodlands book by Peter Fiennes

Oak, Ash and Thorn – new woodlands book by Peter Fiennes

by Angus ~ 29 October, 2017 ~ one comment

Peter Fiennes immersed himself in British woodlands for a year and he dug out every literary reference to woodlands that he could and visited dozens of woodlands to appreciate their magic.  The result is an erudite and inspiring tome that is also a cry for help to preserve any ancient woodland that we haven't already destroyed. "Sell everything! Protect the land!" exclaims Peter.  He outlines a five-page action plan to protect British Woodlands which he also describes as a statement of the "bleeding obvious", including creation of more woods and visiting the woods more often.  When he joins one of the Woodland Trust's campaigns to protect an ancient woodland near Sheffield from development he becomes apoplectic: "An ancient wood for a service station.  What sort of sick exchange is that?" Read more...

How George Peterken helped to save Britain's ancient woodlands, and his new book - "Woodland Development"

How George Peterken helped to save Britain’s ancient woodlands, and his new book – “Woodland Development”

by Angus ~ 20 October, 2017 ~ one comment

I met up with George Peterken, the man who has probably done more than any living person to protect Britain's ancient Woodlands.  He continues to study woods in fine detail to find out how they actually work and he has written a new book, "Woodland Development" where he explains how a 70-year study of Lady Park Woodland in the Wye Valley has revealed detail on how a broadleaved woodland develops.  Young trees that are just slightly larger than others at the beginning tend to stay larger: "within the first decade, probably sooner, those which are destined to become big trees will have already established themselves as the larger saplings - it's like the boat race: getting an early lead means you probably win in the long run."   Read more...

"A Wood of one's own" by Ruth Pavey

“A Wood of one’s own” by Ruth Pavey

by Angus ~ 3 October, 2017 ~ comments welcome

Ruth has that rare combination of being both an active doer and an engaging storyteller: "A Wood of one's own" is about what the author has done with her four acres of land in Somerset, neglected orchard and woodland.  It's the story of how, over the last 18 years, the land has been brought under control with help from friends and relatives but mostly the result of her sheer persistence and patience.  The friends have not always "got it" about why she has taken it on and they ask questions like, "what's it all for?" or "when will the wood be finished?"  But within the book are dozens of answers to sth question of why take on ownership of a small piece of countryside - to improve the woodland, to learn its history, to grow apples, to meet people, have parties, and just to experience the earthy business of managing the land.  It's clear from this book that actual ownership has big advantages over just having a right to visit a woodland - as Pavey says: 'Unless you own the land you are not free to grow things where you like, to make mistakes, to "spuddle about".' Read more...

Richard Mabey’s Weeds and Beechcombings

Richard Mabey’s Weeds and Beechcombings

by Jasper ~ 4 August, 2017 ~ comments welcome

Richard Mabey is one of Britain’s most compelling writers on our natural and not-so-natural environments and the botanical wonders to be found amongst them. He introduced a whole new generation to the joys of foraging with his breakthrough 1972 publication Food for Free, while his essential 1996 Flora Britannica was an ambitious attempt to exhaustively catalogue all the native and naturalised plants that grow within the British Isles.

What makes Mabey such a pleasurable and informative read is the affable yet authoritative first person voice he brings to his writing, Read more...

"The Fight for Beauty" - Fiona Reynolds' book on the British countryside

“The Fight for Beauty” – Fiona Reynolds’ book on the British countryside

by Angus ~ 13 April, 2017 ~ one comment

"People will only protect what they care about, and they will only care about what they have experienced" according to David Attenborough.  On this basis, Fiona Reynolds argues that we need to help the public to have easy access to the British countryside and to do conservation in a hands-on way rather than leave it all to professionals.  We must help people touch and feel trees and woodlands if we want them to be valued.

"The Fight for Beauty" is a 320 page book containing a magnificent account of the efforts to preserve British landscape, species and habitats in the 60 years after the war but as Reynolds admits it is still true that, "nature protection remains weak" and habitat loss has been severe as we continue to witness the sixth mass extinction eventRead more...

"Woodland Gardening" from 'Plants for a Future'.

“Woodland Gardening” from ‘Plants for a Future’.

by Chris ~ 26 August, 2015 ~ 2 comments

A book entitled "Woodland Gardening" has grown out of a project that began back in 1980s / 90s.  "Plants for a Future" began in 1989 when a 28 acre plot of land was bought by Ken and Addy Fern near Lostwithiel, Cornwall.   The aim was to demonstrate the importance and many uses of plants, particularly perennials using permaculture techniques.   This is in marked contrast to many aspects of current agricultural practice, which involves the constant working of the soil, the intensive use of 'agro-chemicals' and a heavy reliance of a limited palette of annual crops.

Their woodland gardening 'seeks to emulate beneficial aspects of natural woodland'.  In woodlands, trees, shrubs and herbs all grow alongside one another year after year, offering shelter and food to various animals, including us.   The soil is stable and its structure and fertility are maintained through the natural recycling of materials and nutrients. Read more...

"Landmarks", Robert Macfarlane's new book

“Landmarks”, Robert Macfarlane’s new book

by Angus ~ 30 April, 2015 ~ one comment

According to the new "Landmarks" book, the Oxford Junior dictionary recently removed some words which the editor considered less relevant to today's young people.  These exclusions included: acorn, ash, beech, bluebell, hazel, ivy, fern, lark, mistletoe, newt and otter.  Such words had to be removed to make space for these more relevant words, amongst others: blog, chatroom, MP3player, broadband, attachment and voice-mail.  This change, which is said by the editor to reflect the reality of modern-day children's urban lives, is alarming in its acceptance that children might no longer "see the seasons, or that the rural environment might be so unproblematically disposable."

Macfarlane has an absorbing obsession about both the countryside and about language.  Putting the two together, he has produced a beautifully written book that examines how people think about their outdoor surroundings and particularly how a fertile language has developed around the country.    But, he also brings out the sheer depth of vernacular vocabulary of people who work with the land. Read more...

Growing fine Oak timber in 100 years in your woodland

Growing fine Oak timber in 100 years in your woodland

by Angus ~ 22 February, 2015 ~ one comment

Bede Howell is a massively respected forest manager (and French speaker) who has always taken the long view of British woodlands.  In this new book, Bede both learns from the experience of others and shares it - he has translated into English Jean Lemaire's brilliant book on growing oak for timber.  Oak trees are easily the most important broadleaves in Britain and occupy about 9% of the forest area but typically rotations have taken 150 - 200 years or more to maturity but with wise planting and management this book, "Oak: fine timber in 100 years", shows how good quality timber can be grown in about 100 years.

"Oak: fine timber in 100 years" uses every possible way of getting its message across - text, photos, diagrams, charts, graphs, tables, maps and sketches.  Read more...

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