With lots of help from my daughter, son and son’s girlfriend, we got the coppiced area all tidied up by the time the primroses were open, and the very first wild garlic leaves were smelling pungently as we walked over them. The last thing we did was to plant a young oak tree, grown from an acorn I’d picked up in the wood, and planted in my garden. I really hope that it continues to thrive, it is the first thing we have planted in the wood. Because of the site’s SSSI status we are probably overly cautious about importing anything into it, so propagating from the existing plants is ideal.
Recently my son misidentified a tree he’d taken down in a garden as an ash. It goes without saying that I shall have to disinherit him now. In the following days though the news broke that experts are predicting that diseases will wipe out the european ash in the same way as Dutch Elm disease removed elms from the landscape. A friend saw the news and sent me a jokey text saying how that would make it much easier for my son to identify trees. But the harsh reality is that it means about 2/3 of the trees in our wood will be gone. So what would be left ? There would be the oaks which were planted almost 100 years ago, though many of them don’t look really healthy, and those which do are still prone to being damaged in high winds. Field maples, but not many, and goat willows which are also few and far between. So if we don’t want huge gaps we are going to have to start encouraging some of these other species. The photo on the right is one of the cuttings I took from the willow which the wind brought down this winter. It is the first cutting to leaf up, but there are others which aren’t far behind.
For a month or two now, the wood will become a no-go area. It is impossible to walk through it without crushing wood anemones, wild garlic, and bluebells. I shall still creep in now and again just to see if the Herb Paris has survived, but apart from that we’ll be admiring its full Spring glory from the surrounding rides.