Hazel, willow, beef and storytelling from Bedfordshire

Posts in category coppice

Fuel for thought. How your choice of ...

Fuel for thought. How your choice of charcoal affects the world

Last September, I met Lyndsey from Central Beds Council at Centenary Wood, near Greenfield, to talk about some ride widening she wanted us to do for her. In return for taking out some young trees that were overshadowing some paths and causing them to stay muddy through most of the year, we’d get to bring […]

Sallow, Hazel and the Emperor

Sallow, Hazel and the Emperor

For years I’ve been waging low­key war on the sallow that grows in one hazel plantation we look after. (Sallow for simplicity, but I’m including ‘goat willow’, Salix caprea ‘grey willow’ S. cinerea, as well as hybrids of the two, under that umbrella). Knowing sallow is an important part of the woodland ecosystem, I’ve never […]

Silent Summer

Silent Summer

Suddenly it’s quiet in the woods. It happens sometime in July, and it happens almost overnight. Because for large parts of the year the wood is my office, I’m lucky enough to enjoy the seasonal tide of bird song as the sound track of my working day, so when these dramatic changes happen, even I, […]

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. […]

A brush with the floor

A brush with the floor

Last August we spent a day on a training course making a hay rake and a besom broom in a lovely old wood near Hoddesden. It was a day run by the East Anglian Coppice Network which is part of the National Coppice Federation, and it was good just to spend time with people who, […]

Four years at Centenary Wood

Four years at Centenary Wood

It sure does feel good to have finished cutting and clearing at Centenary Wood. That’s four winters of cutting or at least four January and Februarys. Winter cutting can be hard work and sometimes daunting; last winter more than most given Jane’s hand injury that took her out of the equation. Our apprentice has been […]

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 […]

A tale of two ashes

A tale of two ashes

    About eighteen months ago I cut two small ash trees down as part of an effort to make some space for our embryonic charcoal business. These had both been planted in our small wood, Bottoms’ Corner, in February 1999, and had reached a diameter of about fifteen centimetres or so. Their absence meant […]

A madness of cow parsley

A madness of cow parsley

There’s a lot of it about this year; cow parsley that is. I’ve noticed more of it than usual along roadsides and hedge banks all over the country. Quite often, in spring, it’s easy to be overcome by the profusion of everything after a long winter of grey and brown. It’s usually the very greenness of […]

James and the giant stainless steel d...

James and the giant stainless steel dustbin

We’ve bought a charcoal retort. And that’s exciting. After months of deliberation, long conversations with all sorts of people, attendance at shows and demos and general procrastination, we’ve plumped for one of James Hookway’s stainless steel beauties. Having decided to give charcoal a go, I had a bash with very small and then much bigger […]