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Planting trees - millions of them

Planting trees – millions of them

by Chris ~ 17 June, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Following the First World War, the UK’s woodland coverage was at an all time low – just 5 per cent of total land area. The Acland Committee reported to then Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, that state organisation would be the most effective way to bring about re-afforestation of the UK and plan for the future of British woodland.  

As a result, the Forestry Commission was set up and, throughout the early decades of the twentieth century, it voraciously bought up land.  The aim of the Forestry Commission was to ensure that there would be a strategic reserve of timber, so, as it acquired land, it began to plant - mainly with conifers .

Low grade’ lands (those that were less in demand for agriculture) were pressed into service such as areas around Thetford Chase and Kielder, as were some sandy coastal sites (e.g. Holkham in Norfolk Read more...

A busman’s holiday, part 2

A busman’s holiday, part 2

by Dick ~ 8 March, 2019 ~ comments welcome

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...

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...

Hedges in towns and cities.

Hedges in towns and cities.

by Chris ~ 8 June, 2017 ~ comments welcome

Hedges originally served the function of corralling animals; however they also offer habitats for many plant and animal species and they serve as important ecological corridors.  Now another role for hedges has been suggested - that of combating air pollution in our towns and cities.

Urban air pollution has been linked to Read more...

Managing hedgerows.

Managing hedgerows.

by Chris ~ 2 January, 2012 ~ 4 comments

The importance of hedgerows in the maintenance of biodiversity cannot be over-emphasised.   Hedgerows provide vital food, in the form of a variety of berries - sloes, haws, blackberries etc,  for small mammals and birds (redwings, blackbirds) and hedgerow flowers support pollinating insects - a  variety of bees and butterflies.

However, the 'management' of hedgerows or trimming / flailing of a hedgerow can make a significant difference to its productivity - that is, the number of flowers and fruits produced. Read more...

Bedstraws

Bedstraws

by Chris ~ 7 October, 2011 ~ 4 comments

The bedstraws are slender, sprawling herbs that have square stems (in cross-section) and they belong to the genus GALIUM.  This genus belongs to the family RUBIACEAE, which includes the Gardenias,  Coffea (for coffee) and Cinchona (bark yields quinine = Jesuits' bark).

Galium odoratum (sweet woodruff) is a woodland bedstraw, which tends to form 'a carpet' and is a perennial.  Galium aparine ( aka goosegrass, kisses, cleavers, sticky bobs, sticky willy, sweethearts and robin run the hedge) is more common and is a 'scrambler"; it is also an annual. Read more...

Wildlife surveys

Wildlife surveys

by Lewis ~ 7 May, 2011 ~ 3 comments

There is a considerable number of different surveys running throughout the country, some of which might hold a particular interest for you.  Many 'natural history' organisations / charities are dependent on the input from volunteers to monitor the status of plant and animal populations throughout the UK or specific local areas - especially in these financially difficult times. Read more...

Dog's mercury

Dog’s mercury

by Chris ~ 28 October, 2010 ~ 47 comments

Dog’s Mercury (Mecurialis perennis) is sometimes referred to as ‘dog’s cole’. It is a perennial and is found in woodlands (particularly beech and oak); and in shady places (like dense hedgerows); it is found widely throughout Britain (except Northern Scotland). Its distribution in Ireland is much more limited.

It can spread by means of its underground rhizomes (stem-like structures that penetrate through the soil) and when it finds suitable conditions,  it may form a carpet of plants. There is some evidence that high light intensities inhibit the growth of the rhizomes. The plant can be quite invasive – especially in shady places. Read more...

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