Hazel, willow, beef and storytelling from Bedfordshire

Coppicing oak in a hedge

Coppicing oak in a hedge

Coppicing oak in a hedge

After a great deal of frustration over the last two weeks, with a chainsaw that wouldn’t start, I finally got going with the last piece of hedge coppicing in our Countryside Stewardship Scheme, this morning. We cracked on despite a stiff breeze. At least the wind was coming from the west and would in theory push trees the right way.

It’s always good to be out doing something physical after a period of desk-bound web site noodling. I felt that inactivity and was rather thankful that I had to do other things this afternoon. Three hours was enough for my back.

I always wrestle mentally with the ‘which trees to cut, which to leave decision’. Definitely one that can’t be reversed. We decided several years ago to  maintain the boundary as hedge rather than trees, so devastation was inevitable. There are some fair-sized oaks in this hedgerow; overshadowing the thorn plants and in some cases, killing them. The hedge is well on the way to becoming a row of trees, so some have to go. Actually coppicing doesn’t kill them, it gives the plants a new lease of life and the lengths of hedge we’ve been working on over the last four years are growing back very well.

The oak pictured is around sixty years old (from a quick ring count). From its girth I would have guessed it was twice that . Some of the annual growth rings were 2cm wide – an amazing rate of growth and probably one that is significantly greater than an oak growing in a wood.

Thanks to Martin for muscles, tea and bagels.

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