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Francis's Diary 2021/22

  • We planted Oak interspersed with Scots Pine as a nursery crop.  Some of the pine didn’t survive, partly because we planted in late spring, followed by a dry summer.  I took the opportunity of beating up with varieties that I like, mainly Birch, Beech, Cherry, Red Oak, Hemlock and some Crab Apple.

  • The Birch and Scots Pine had grown very well, but it was a pity to see such nice clean and straight Birch wood included with the Pine when it came to selling - Scots Pine wood is not popular!  As for the Cherry, it really thrived and has been most prolific in reseeding itself on the woodland floor.  It’s good to see too that there’s a diversity of self-seeding including Holly.  At first thinning, we were able to leave some peripheral Scots Pine and Birch for colour and variety.

  • Eighteen years a-growing later, two separate campaigns of shaping and a first thinning last year, the Oaks now have a chance to come into their own and refill the canopy.  Being part of a network of forest growers has proved really helpful, as concerns contacts in getting the thinning done and sharing information.

  • Where do we go from here?  Next step is to mark out the final crop and let’s not forget the high pruning.  In the meantime, there’s a stream to be maintained, some fencing and wall to repair too - all at a standstill despite the current perfect ground conditions.

  • There’s a lot of satisfaction in seeing a forest developing and sitting well in its landscape.  It’s a good and productive use of land and very valuable for biodiversity.  However, a deciduous/hardwood forest does require quite a lot of effort and long-term commitment, as well as a few headaches.  Is there a way that this can be repaid?  Is it feasible to extend the plantation?  All suggestions welcome!

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