Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Work in the Birch

We finished planting  in the Scots Pine in December, and since then have been working in the birchwood. After the Big Storm of 1987 knocked down a large part of the  Pine Plantation,  the fallen timber was removed by the Forestry Commission who owned Old Copse at this time. Birch, a plant of early succession,  soon colonised  the new space, growing tall and dense, with many spindly trees toppling over like a giant game of 'pick up sticks'. The result is a rather even-aged wood. Scattered through are a dozen or so larger broadleaves which have somehow survived both the plantation and the storm and are now emerging above the birch canopy.

While the birchwood in the southern part of Old Copse is not at all diverse, once we had thoroughly explored  the northern 15 acres  we found a surprising number of  oak and beech,  as well as rowan, hawthorn, hazel, and sallow.  So we are clearing space around these, and creating areas where we can encourage, and  plant a shrub layer , which at present the wood lacks. Already, this part of the wood  has started to have a native broad-leaf woodland 'atmosphere', a reminder of what it must have been like before the ancient woodland was cut down and replanted with Scots Pine.

There hasn't been any snowfall in the wood since the winters of 2009/10 and 2010/11, and even then it wasn't that deep and only lasted a couple of days but we had a little snow recently, just a dusting this time, but the air was frigid and mist hung over the wood and the Pond, making everything look almost monochrome.

In the recent cold weather we've been grateful for the cosy warmth of the cabin,  in the company of a phantom eyed Herbie , who always likes to monopolise the comfiest chair.