Hazel, willow, beef and storytelling from Bedfordshire

National Beanpole Week – next week

hazel leaves - bean poles and pea sticks available now

hazel leaves - bean poles and pea sticks available now

I expect you’ve had this in your diary for most of the last twelve months. It’s something that’s causing some excitement in our small wood. Seriously; this is important.

The Small Woodlands Associationhave, over the last few years promoted this slightly eccentric special week and once again it features on a couple of web sites – I’ve checked – try www.beanpoles.org.uk and this

We are, in the UK, really good at producing sticks and you would have thought that British gardens would be full of sticks grown in a wood just around the corner. Sadly not. Most gardeners are forced to use bamboo bought from garden centres and imported from the Far East. The gardeners who buy sticks from us (bean poles and pea sticks amongst others), always seem delighted to have found a source of British sticks. We are always pleased to sell hazel sticks to gardeners!

Compared to hazel, bamboo is pretty poor as a plant support. Hazel’s natural undulations and relatively course bark makes it brilliant for plants to cling to. Being dark, it is far less intrusive, visually, than bamboo. You get the idea? I’m pretty obsessed.

The thing is (and this is why Small Woods Association are behind NBPW), if every gardener bought their sticks from  a local woodland, money would flow to those of us who try to earn at least a part of a living from managing woodland. And that would mean that we can spend more time looking after the woods we love. Of course that’s great for us, but it’s also to the benefit of bluebells, wood anemones, willow warblers, nightingales, stag beetles, badgers, dormice…

We can’t claim to have dormice and nightingales in residence in our small woodland (willow warblers arrived in the last few days and that’s just lovely), but we feel strongly that we are part of a very long tradition of coppicing in lowland Britain, dating back to the Stone Age; a form of management that has shaped animal and plant communities that still survive albeit in fragmented form.

So buy some hazel bean poles or the dormouse gets it!

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