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Hazel;  Hazelnuts, Filberts, & Cobnuts.

Hazel; Hazelnuts, Filberts, & Cobnuts.

by Lewis ~ 6 March, 2020 ~ comments welcome

Hazels belong to the genus - Corylus, which in turn belongs to the Betulaceae [the birch family].  There are a number of different species within the genus Corylus and a variety of cultivars. The common or European Hazel is named C.avellana; after the Italian town of Avella.  In the past, the hazel was much grown for coppice, indeed in 1905 it is thought that there were some half a million acres of hazel coppice (Mabberley's Plant Book, 3rd Edition 2008).  Its wood / poles was used in the making of hurdles, legume poles, wattle and daub.  Hazel was also much favoured as a rod for water divining.

The hazel was also a source of hazelnuts - the fruit of the tree.  The flowers are produced early in the year in the form of long catkins - the male flowers (see image below).  The female flowers are small, red, ‘bud-like’ structures (image below).  The redness being largely due to the protruding styles (which receive the pollen).  Pollination is anemophilous - i.e. by the wind.   Read more...

Chestnut coppicing - an alternative to the 15 or 18 year cycle

Chestnut coppicing – an alternative to the 15 or 18 year cycle

by Angus ~ 29 January, 2019 ~ 5 comments

In Kent and East Sussex there are thousands of acres of chestnut coppice (see featured and last image).  That means fairly uniform sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa), where every 15 or 18 years the stems are all cut off to create poles mostly used for fencing materials.  Chestnut is a hardwood and splits well.  The cutting is done in sections (“cants”) and the corners of each section are often marked by leaving a stem which is cut at about 1.5 metres above ground level.   The great benefit of this sort of woodland is that it is very productive and the trees do not need replanting after felling - the coppice just sprouts back from the same roots or “plate”. Read more...

Hornbeams and hedges

Hornbeams and hedges

by Linda Dolata ~ 26 November, 2018 ~ 2 comments

Many of the woods for thirty miles around, and even within, London( for example, Highgate woods, Queenswood, Coldfall Wood - all in Harringay) are predominantly of hornbeam coppice.  These were usually planted with maiden (single-stemmed) oaks, which were timber trees.    Hornbeam is a native tree, a little like beech in appearance, but with bark that looks as if it has been flayed. Although it naturally forms a single stemmed tree, hornbeam also coppices easily.  These were once worked woods, cut in cycles to supply wood, which is very dense (hence horn-beam).  Hornbeam was used as a crop for fuel (either directly or as charcoal) as it was so slow burning.   As it was so hard that it did not distort, it was also for moving parts such as the hubs for wagon wheels. It is said that some of these woodlands date back to Roman times and beyond, where the charcoal was needed for smelting iron. Read more...

Scythe training

Scythe training

by Chris Colley ~ 31 July, 2017 ~ one comment

A May bank holiday Saturday, West Wales, and it was drizzling. Probably like most people I had preconceptions of scything as an activity performed by farm labourers in blazing sunshine, when the hay would dry best. Not the full Poldark maybe, but something similar. Like most preconceptions, it proved to be wrong in all important respects.

I had long hankered after developing two traditional skills: dry stone walling and scything. I met my needs for dry stone walling a few years ago, courtesy of the National Trust, but this May bank holiday was my opportunity to address the other. My particular need that encouraged me to move this year was planting 1300 willow and poplar as short rotation coppice, and the need to keep the grass down during year one.

Scythe Cymru, based at the Dyfed Permaculture Trust land in Penboyr, about 16 miles north west of Carmarthen run courses in scything, and sharpening and maintaining scythes, as well as providing a sharpening service used by scythe owners across the country. Read more...

Red Squirrels Find Sanctuary in my Wood

Red Squirrels Find Sanctuary in my Wood

by Peter Trimming ~ 2 February, 2017 ~ 2 comments

I purchased Snighow Wood, in Wasdale, with the intention of maintaining it as a wildlife habitat; specifically red squirrels. Formerly occupied by red squirrels, greys had moved in some years previously. The timing of my purchase (end of December 2015) was fortunate, as greys had been (largely) removed from the area about a year previously, by the West Lakes Squirrel Initiative. With the choice of three plots of woodland, I chose the one which I thought most suitable for the squirrels, and requiring the least amount of work. There was hazel to be coppiced, rhododendrons to be tackled and paths to be cleared or created! Read more...

Burning heather ?

Burning heather ?

by Lewis ~ 11 September, 2014 ~ 3 comments

Heather (Calluna vulgaris) is one of the dominant plant species of heath and moor – particularly in upland areas.   In such areas, land managers may burn back areas of heather (in a selective fashion) to create better feeding for sheep or grouse.  Left to grow, heather can form a ‘blanket’ that makes for poor grazing in a nutritional sense (more woody material – lignin, that is essentially indigestible) and can give rise to intense fires in dry, hot summers. The selective burning / rotational burning  of heather moors has been questioned in recent times as the underlying peat, and also water quality, may degrade.

Present burning practices are estimated to release energy - some 821 PJ/yr *.  However, if the U.K.’s heather was to be harvested as a biofuel or bioenergy crop**  then it could yield as much energy as 1.7 million tonnes of coal per year.   Read more...

A 'SWOG' visit to Ferriby Wood

A ‘SWOG’ visit to Ferriby Wood

by Dan ~ 27 May, 2012 ~ comments welcome

On a beautifully hot and sunny May day, Mike welcomed a group of existing and potential woodland owners to Ferriby Wood, in the Yorkshire Wolds.  The purpose of the gathering was to share experiences of woodland ownership.  Folks met at his clearing where a fire was burning and the kettle was on. After a cup of tea and an introductory chat, we set off on a guided tour.

Mike showed us how he has been managing his woodland in the five years since he bought it, looking first at a small section of coppiced ash.  He explained that he has been selling the poles to his local allotment association for use as bean poles, Read more...

Coppice and dead wood

Coppice and dead wood

by Thomas Kenny ~ 1 April, 2012 ~ 2 comments

I am currently studying for a Foundation Degree in Forestry and Woodland Management at Plumpton College in East Sussex and am preparing a dissertation on dead wood in coppice woodlands.

Coppicing is a well-known silvicultural practice, carried out in the UK for the purpose of habitat and wildlife conservation, and for sustainable timber production / products. It is widely accepted that, whilst coppicing has many benefits for conservation, ‘woodland historically managed as coppice is generally lacking in dead wood’  (FC 2002). Earlier literature such as Buckley (1992) and Kimmins (1997), supports the view that there is a general lack of dead wood presence within actively managed coppice woodlands. Read more...

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