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What we have done with a wood of our own

What we have done with a wood of our own

by Martin ~ 26 May, 2019 ~ comments welcome

One family's account of buying a their own piece of woodland in Devon.

There are many reasons why you might want to buy a piece of woodland. Perhaps you want to use it for wildlife conservation or to help you and your family strive for a better way of life and well being.   For the Turner family their decision was motivated by the latter. They wanted a place they could escape from the stresses and strain of modern life and the trappings of digital connectivity.

Martin Turner discovered woodlands.co.uk who specialise in selling parcels of woodland. Woodlands had a wide range of potential sites and after making contact, Martin was soon viewing potential locations with the local woodland manager.   The family wanted their woodland to be close enough to their home so that they could easily reach it within half an hour. Their criteria also included a light, varied and characterful piece of woodland, with good vehicle access,  the potential for the production of firewood and all of this in an area with no phone signal! Read more...

Expanding access to nature - allotments and woodlands

Expanding access to nature – allotments and woodlands

by Angus ~ 25 May, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Both allotments and small woodlands bring owners closer to nature and lead to personal fulfilment.  Whilst the number of woodland owners is increasing rapidly we wanted to explore why the number of allotment owners isn't increasing.  So Erica Douglas* of woodlands.co.uk undertook a study of the history of allotment ownership and how the numbers of allotments couhld be increased.  She found that allotment expansion is very constrained by the ability of local authorities to find suitable land and that, if anything, many existing allotments are under threat of being closed by the pressure on local councils to find new building land. Read more...

Paddle-making course at Sylva's Wood Centre, near Oxford

Paddle-making course at Sylva’s Wood Centre, near Oxford

by Angus ~ 22 May, 2019 ~ comments welcome

"Why did you spend two days of your life and about £200 to make a paddle?" asked a friend after I got home from this weekend course in Oxford.  Obviously I'd failed to explain that this was about much more than just planing and sanding a single piece of ash wood into a nice paddle.  For me, it was more like a holiday - getting away from computer screens for two days, spending time with my grown-up son (who made his own paddle) and learning how to use edge tools properly.  It was also about meeting a group of half a dozen like-minded individuals each hungry to learn new skills in woodworking.  When I showed my beautiful paddle to my sceptical friend and told him about the people I'd met, he understood better and even said he wanted to go on the same course. Read more...

Bird by Bird - about the threats to wild birds

Bird by Bird – about the threats to wild birds

by Angus ~ 17 May, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Jayne Ivimey and Julia Blackburn have put together an amazing exhibition that makes grown ups cry.  It describes the plight of wild birds in the face of human activities from oil spills and pesticides to loss of habitat from climate change.  The official RED LIST is the list of seriously endangered species and the number of birds on it has recently grown from 36 to 70, so that extinctions now seem almost inevitable for some with humans as the perpetrators.  But this is more than just a lament: it is also a celebration of what the authors call the "miracle of the gift of flight" and the magic of birdsong.   Woodland birds play an important role in the roster of the 70 birds that Jayne has recreated in clay. Read more...

May’s Monthly Mushroom: Elder Whitewash (Hyphodontia sambuci) - Part 2.

May’s Monthly Mushroom: Elder Whitewash (Hyphodontia sambuci) – Part 2.

by Jasper Sharp ~ 15 May, 2019 ~ comments welcome

In the last post [see related posts to the side], I broadly introduced the Elder Whitewash as an example of a resupinate crust fungus that is typically found growing on elder.    At first glance, this particular species might not seem the most obvious candidate from these regular Monthly Mushroom posts to be split into a one-off two-part focus, save for the fact that is so regularly seen yet little remarked upon.

No doubt we’ve all seen it and probably passed it by. Hugill and Lucas in The Resupinates of Hampshire (2019 edition)  describe it as “surface rough, waxy when fresh, somewhat fissured when dry. Pure white to greyish white. Very common.” Michael Jordan in The Encyclopedia of Fungi of Britain and Europe writes of its “white, chalky fruiting body tightly attached to substrate, looking like matt emulsion paint or distemper… resupinate with irregular margin, the hymenial (upper) surface having a chalky consistency.” Read more...

May’s Monthly Mushroom: Elder Whitewash (Hyphodontia sambuci) pt 1

May’s Monthly Mushroom: Elder Whitewash (Hyphodontia sambuci) pt 1

by Jasper Sharp ~ 13 May, 2019 ~ comments welcome

They are among the first of our trees to burst into leaf, and any moment now they should be yielding up their perfumed blossoms for cordials, champagnes, fritters or whatever your fancy is. There are those, however, who believe our native Black Elder, Sambucus nigra, to be something of a mixed blessing, best confined to the hedgerow rather than the woodlands. Fast growing, spindly and brittle branched, they spring up in unsightly shrub-like tangles in those nitrogen-loaded hotspots left uncolonised by more majestic species. The featured image is the Elder Whitewash - a crust fungus regularly found on elder .

As John Lewis-Stempel poetically writes in The Wood: The Life and Times of Cockshutt Wood (2018), Read more...

Underland - new book by Robert Macfarlane - the wood-wide web and more ...

Underland – new book by Robert Macfarlane – the wood-wide web and more …

by Johnny Morris ~ 9 May, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Three quarters of the way through Macfarlane’s dazzling book he recounts a conversation with Robert Mulvaney – a palaeoclimatologist and ice-core expert at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge. After handing Macfarlane a phial containing grains of sand, Mulvaney explains that they were extracted from a kilometre deep inside a glacier and they prove that  below the ice there was once a Sahara. “They’re beautiful” says Macfarlane. “ Desert diamonds from the bottom of the world”

I can tell you are not a scientist” replies Mulvaney. 

It is an unfair jibe. Scientist or not, Macfarlane serves science brilliantly well in his latest work, Underland - A Deep Time Journey. With every chapter he demonstrates his talent for explaining science and communicating the sheer wonder of the world through scientific goggles. The ambitious scope of his storytelling steps lightly from geology to linguistics to geomorphology onto folklore via nuclear physics and meteorology – all brought into focus with elegant prose and sprinklings of poetry. Like a skilled mixologist he serves up cocktails of scientific knowledge that delight and deliver more than the sum of the factual parts. Read more...

Native bluebells - not at risk of extinction

Native bluebells – not at risk of extinction

by Chris ~ 9 May, 2019 ~ comments welcome

The native bluebell, Hyacinthoides non-scipta, is also known as the common bluebell, the wood bell, the fairy flower and sometimes the wild hyacinth.  It is protected in the U.K. under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981.  In a single (ancient) woodland, millions of bulbs may be found and they give rise to carpets of flowers usually in April or May.  They take advantage of the sunlight before the canopy of leaves fully develops and reduces the incident light at ground level. Read more...

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