February 2020

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February 2020

 

Welcome to the first Newsletter of 2020

My apologies for this long delay since the November update was posted, but I have experienced a tumultuous time over the past few weeks, as sadly my wife to whom I was married for over 56 years, died in December.   Carolyn was the person who first came up with the idea of holding a Bluebell Walk, back in 1972, to raise money for Park Mead Primary School.  Little did she realize that, in making that simple decision, it would have such a positive impact 48 years later by raising over £1,000,000 for over seventy local charities, whilst giving such immense pleasure to the thousands of visitors who visit each year.  The family in her memory, have planted a Beech Tree on the Island in the Lower Pond, together with primroses taken from the attractive garden she created at Bates Green.

 

Coppicing again in Beatons Wood

Every four years as part of our Management Plan we coppice, which means we cut down all the trees in a specific area, except for the dominant oak trees and some ‘maiden’ straight hornbeam that, given more light, will develop into good looking specimen trees.  Coppicing is an ancient form of woodland management especially for ancient broadleaf woods, such as the one we are so fortunate to have here at Arlington. The practice involves repetitive felling of the same stump near to ground level, approximately every 20 to 30 years dependent on the tree species, so allowing the shoots to regrow from that main stump. It is fundamental to ensure the wild woodland plants, specifically bluebells and the white wood anemones, flourish by allowing more light onto the woodland floor. The native broad-leaved trees namely hornbeam, sweet chestnut and hazel growing in abundance in Beatons Wood, fortunately have this ability to be coppiced. We chose a large area adjacent to the Lower Pond (see image),

Aged hornbeam

where some of the larger hornbeam were beginning to lean due to their age and sheer weight and the effects of high winds.  Unfortunately, when we booked the foresters to do the felling in December, when trees are dormant, little did we realize that we would experience such a wet autumn and winter!  Work in woodland now involves machinery, so what with the winch on the Land Rover to recover felled trees where their tops had become stuck in their neighbour, the heavy tractor and specialist trailer to extract the cut timber, damage was unfortunately caused to parts of the wood floor.  We have tried our best to rectify the damage, but it will unfortunately take a year or two for nature to heal this scarring. Instead of burning the toppings as we used to do, we have created two massive ‘wildlife mounds’,

Wildlife mounds

which will give cover for birds and small mammals to make their nests, safe from predators.  Over the years these will naturally break down, as can be witnessed at Great Dixter Gardens, where we first saw this example of encouraging more beneficial wildlife to an area.   

Wildlife mound 

 

My aim is for the next blog to be posted when the major improvements, which we must have ready for the 2020 Arlington Bluebell Walk, are finally completed!

 

John McCutchan

 

This message was added on Monday 17th February 2020


Comments


Horse power/Catherine

Firstly, condolences on your loss. May the bluebells and ancient woods bring you all some comfort. Would working horses be a viable alternative to clearing areas?


Response/John

Thank you for your condolences, which are much appreciated. Beatons Wood has as a child always given me great comfort, and will continue to do so for my lifetime, as it does for many of our visitors year on year. Your idea of using working horses I will consider in four years’ time, when we next coppice. John


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