First coppicing session of the season. A good turnout with some new faces and a very enjoyable morning.
Today we made a start on planting nearly 200 hazel whips.
Planted in groups of three to give a little more initial impact.
Over 300 hazel saplings were planted this morning in the newly cleared area alongside the main path.
A fantastic effort from everyone involved!
A short video of a roe deer eating our newly planted hazel whips.
The fresh green of the hazel catkins is one of the first signs that spring is on its way. But take a closer look and you will see the small red female hazel flowers waiting to be pollinated by the male catkins.
Our early work involved removing a lot of holly, coppicing any large hazel that still survived and planting more young hazel. Since about 2010 HCCV have planted between 1500 - 2000 bare root hazel plants, virtually all supplied by Nicholsons Nurseries. (A few plants came from members’ gardens, seedlings from nuts probably buried by squirrels.) Being in a wood the plants had largely to look after themselves once planted, but the majority still survived even in dry springs.
We usually plant hazel in groups of three to simulate a single-stemmed plant one or two years after coppicing. While the plants are small and cast little shade brambles thrive, and so for the first few years after planting HCCV’s other big task is ‘bramble bashing’ - digging or pulling them up by hand. Although essential this isn’t our favourite job but with most of the roots growing in the thick layer of leaf mould present in the wood, it is easier than you might think. We also get quite a sense of satisfaction after a team has cleared a sizeable area! In the last two years we’ve invested in small hand mattocks (c. £10) which are ideal, so if you have to do this sort of work I strongly recommend them.
Nicholsons sell various sizes and ages of bare root hazel plants and because of our bramble problem (and our almost stone-free soil which makes planting easy) we find bare root transplants superior to the equivalent sized seedlings. They usually have a number of stems and a bigger and more fibrous root system, so they establish faster and make plants that compete with the brambles at least one and probably two or more years sooner than seedlings do.
Mike Saynor, Colin Melhuish - HCCV Joint Co-ordinators