|Not ideal weather for tree-planting|
Well, it can’t always go to plan. We had the trees, and lots of helpers lined up, but the weather intervened to frustrate our attempts to get our hedgerow planted. We were all prepared. The week beforehand our new fence had been completed across the field. This really made us feel the land was ours at last! We spent the Friday marking the ground with multi-coloured spots (orange for hawthorn, yellow for hazel and other colours for other species), so the trees would be planted appropriately spaced and reasonably well mixed up.
|Betty’s wood from the canal|
Sadly, the coldest November weather for many years intervened to turn the ground into something resembling concrete, with a dusting of light snow to boot! Attempts were made to break the soil with a pickaxe, but it became clear that we would not be able to get the roots of the trees properly bedded in, even if we could make holes in which to plant them.
|Fence and Alvecote Wood|
Fortunately, we had an area of ground in the main woodland already prepared for potato-planting in the spring: rotavated and adequately laced with used chicken bedding, this was in a sheltered spot and it was possible to dig trenches using narrow planting spades. So we had to heel-in the 700 little trees to cover their roots and make sure they didn’t dry out, as well as erecting some temporary anti-deer fencing to prevent them from being eaten before they ever make it to Betty’s Wood. This provided our stalwart helpers with sufficient exercise to keep warm, together with the home-made cakes and biscuits on offer.
Unable to plant, I managed to take some photos of the magical, if frustrating, winter landscape. We also managed to fell and cut up a very rotten crab-apple tree along the line of our soon-to-be-repaired fence at the south side of the woods. This provided me with good chainsaw practice after my training day last weekend, and provided us with plenty of brash for dead-hedging to fill in areas where the fencing is less robust. We also have some very splendid spalted wood that will be good for turning in due course.
Our new woods will have to wait a little while, but there are always jobs to do in the wood, no matter what the weather. But it would be really nice if it doesn’t stay at -7 Celsius for too long.