Checking through my emails, I came across a link sent by a friend to one of the winter talks in the program offered by the Botanical Society of Scotland - specifically “The Scottish Uplands: how to revive a degraded landscape” by Dr Helen Armstrong. The talk was live-streamed but was also recorded and is available here.
Dr Armstrong spent 24 years at the Nature Conservancy Council, the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forest Research carrying out research and advisory work.
The following is an attempt to summarise some of the key features of her informative and enlightening talk. Read more...
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...
Having put in place the basic infrastructure so that I can store tools, equipment and firewood and have somewhere for shelter and to work, my attention turned to the top two priorities on my ‘to do’ list – well actually, numbers 2 and 3, number one will always remain ‘relax, do nothing and just enjoy it’.
Firstly there is a semi-circular clearing near the eastern side of what is essentially a triangular plot. I have planted a ‘family copse’ Read more...
Finally, it seems like spring has sprung and more people are getting out into the woods. What better way is there to enjoy your time then to be able to make yourself a hot drink on an open fire? Today I’ll show you the way I make an adjustable pot hanger set for cooking and boiling water over a small open fire.
Tools needed for this are pretty simple really, a saw and a knife. A Bahco Laplander folding saw works well and a fixed blade knife is preferable for jobs like this. I’m using a custom made tang knife by a company called Stoney Paths.
I am using green wood as it’s easier to carve and won’t burn as easily and have gone with Hazel. You will need: One long straight pole thumb thick and two/three feet long, one Y-shaped piece around 'thumb thick', and 2 “7” sticks (a piece off a branch that looks a little like a number 7 shape).
We had talked about buying land for about 15 years and had been looking seriously for about 7 years. We had a fairly big wish list, private, quiet and secluded, not too near a road, but with good vehicular access, lots of broadleaf trees and some utility trees, a stream or two would be ideal, a sunny clearing with good night sky views and all within our very humble budget! We looked at lots of woodlands, but nothing ever really ticked all our boxes or felt right, so we just kept looking and wishing.
A new piece of woodland near us came up for sale so one Friday after work we excitedly went to have a look. Read more...
A hedge or hedgerow is made up of a number of parts or habitats. It may offer
- the main bulk of the hedge - that is the trees and shrubs
- the bottom or base of the hedge - which is a strip of land with its own species, a mix of annuals and perennials, some herbaceous others more woody. The base of the hedge can be quite variable, sometimes being narrow and light, or wide and dark (perhaps, supporting a badger or rabbit run)
- a bank that supports the hedge and there may even be an associated ditch (a different habitat in itself)
- a border or verge - an area of adjacent land which may be arable, pastoral or man-made in nature e.g. highway or managed in some way - mowed, grazed or sprayed.
Dead hedges are piles of branches and twigs arranged to form a barrier which are increasingly used as a way to dispose of the material that arises from thinning or clearing operations in woodlands. Tree surgeons call this waste material of saplings and side branches "arisings" whereas foresters tend to call it "lop and top". Using surplus branches in this way is good for wildlife - especially for small mammals and birds - because it gives them somewhere to shelter that is protected from predators and from the wind and rain. It's also good for insects: dead hedges in effect create a linear eco-pile. Recently we at woodlands.co.uk have been using dead hedging as a way of guiding the public to stay on public footpaths and to discourage people from walking across sensitive areas of a woodland. In many situations the dead hedge needs to have gaps left in it for deer paths and for managers and owners to get around the woodland. Read more...
Peter Jones and his sons make walking sticks on a serious scale using sticks they come across in the woods, where they do their forestry work. They use chestnut, silver birch, oak and hazel. But they avoid using willow, as it goes brittle once it's aged. Apart from finding the right stick to work on they need a steamer for bending the tops of the walking sticks and a good supply of sealant and varnish for protecting the finished sticks.
"Honeysuckle makes the best twist sticks" advises out Peter Jones, who comes across a lot of twisted stems in Kent and East Sussex. As a result, he is able to trade these with fellow stick makers in more northern English areas - they give him carved tops for walking sticks in exchange for good twisted shanks. But even among twisted sticks there is variety: the slower growing trees such as holly and oak twist more slowly whilst the fast-growing chestnut twists quickly. Though he also corrected me pointing out that the maker of walking sticks should really be called a "stick dresser" Read more...