Perhaps the overriding theme of our work in the Pinetum this year was “Back To Basics”. Some of our major projects were on hiatus and our resourcing meant we concentrated on the regular tasks and smaller projects that also enhance the Pinetum but that sometimes get overshadowed by the big ones.
Things rot and wear out, so we replaced dead hedging along the front and river side edges of the Entrance Area and around the Woodland Garden. We like to use logs from our own trees (Redwood preferably) to make steps on the path running up to the Leat behind the Entrance Hut. A dead tree covered in ivy runs attractively across the path but it needs propping up and the support poles had to be replaced.
A bigger enhancement was made in the Grotto. In the slope of the bank we have brick, stone and flint tiers in which ferns have seeded themselves but it was missing a retaining wall at the bottom. So, courtesy of Eric’s volunteers we had a foundation, then a wall topped with flints and now a variety of ferns planted above it, all blending in very well, I think you’ll agree.
So, we cut much of it up into lengths and the rest that was too far gone, we gathered into habitat piles in the surrounding woodland. We already had a demonstration cord of wood (a standard cubic measure of firewood), so we thought another one, with a difference, would be a good idea. After levelling the ground for the new cord, the cut logs were placed between retaining posts and built up in tightly packed layers to its full size. A job well done!
We always do a bit of tree felling every year, to create more open space or to free up conifers that are being crowded by hardwoods. But at the moment, we are in the middle of a big programme of felling to create major new spaces at the far end of the Pinetum in Old Firs and Pine Wood and Sycamore Coppice.
Sometimes we can use hand saws for the thinner trees. There is something that boys in particular seem to like about saws and trees. It’s always a popular activity!
Or, you can go the full monty with chainsaws and ropes. Felling trees means lots of clearing up afterwards. There is much transporting of wood about the Pinetum. We use trunks for path edging, stakes, poles, adding to our fungal clock or cutting into smaller billets to season and sell. And the bigger trunks can be made into planks.
The main reason for all this felling is to create space to plant new trees. And after a bit of a gap, we have planted some new trees this year.