Hazel, willow, beef and storytelling from Bedfordshire

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Propagating Hazel by Layering

Propagating Hazel by Layering

Hazel (Corylus avellana), like many shrubs, can be propagated by part burying stems whilst they are still attached to the parent plant – layering. Roots and shoots will, with luck, be produced at the point of contact with the soil and these new plants can be left in place or moved to a new location. […]

Wilding, a book review

Wilding, a book review

Wilding, the return of nature to a British farm, Isabella Tree. 2018, pub. Picador If I was writing a review for the back of this book I think “thought provoking” would do nicely. Given freedom to add another word, I’d go for “extremely thought provoking”. Having read the book in the spring after my wife […]

Use a billhook? Read this…

Use a billhook? Read this…

Here’s a tale that I feel I should share with everyone who uses edged tools. I wish now I had taken more time to talk about it with my work colleagues. A few years ago, maybe four, whilst working up some cut hazel, I hit the back of my left hand with a billhook. The […]

Who was this Pope bloke anyway?

Who was this Pope bloke anyway?

We own about four hectares of woodland of which one, Chester Wood, is ancient semi-natural. The rest is a plantation: Bottoms’ Corner, created in 1999. The ancient woodland is a strip that survived the destruction of what may have been a much larger wood of which no records survive as far as I know; its removal must have […]

The charcoal’s in the bag

The charcoal’s in the bag

Much excitement here in Gravenhurst as we put our first charcoal in bags and made it look a little like a real product with a label and everything. Whilst selling fresh beef last Thursday we gave quite a few bags to customers on the basis that they tell us what they think of this, our […]

Trees and wood – they’re ...

Trees and wood – they’re pretty good

I was struck by the completely amazing nature of trees and wood in a kind of revelatory way this morning, brought about by some odd but trendy box hornbeams in central Milton Keynes. These are a rather extreme example of  trees’ generosity – especially if you like your trees cubic. If a material scientist or […]

Hurrah for swifts

Hurrah for swifts

When the first swallows arrived in Gravenhurst a few weeks ago I sent a text to Jane saying “swallows!”. At least that’s how I remember the gist of that particular communication. I was quite excited. Jane claimed later to think this was a good thing – the text. Oh and the swallows having arrived. A […]

Jazz and swing in the world of birds

Jazz and swing in the world of birds

It’s been raining a lot today. So we stayed inside all morning, toying with paper and the PC. Rainy days are useful sometimes. We get office stuff done in daylight and that should rescue me from evenings in front of a screen. There was a brief pause in the dampness around lunch time and I zoomed […]

Put the kettle on!

Put the kettle on!

On my own, working in the woods, I’ll have a Thermos of tea with me and drink it through the day, even down to the cool, tarry brew that lurks there around 3.30. If Jane’s with me, we’ll boil the Kelly kettle frequently, there being a slight competition for the duty of firing it up; […]

Spring flowers

Spring flowers

Yes, it’s spring, although for very early May the temperature’s rather low. What a joy to discover some colour. Here three fairly common species that grow in our old meadows in Gravenhurst. Cuckoo flower, a member of the cabbage family, appears in the damper parts of the meadow, in amongst soft rush. The name is […]