Far too often the difficulty with making improvements, especially when you’re outside, is that everything needs to be prepared first. Planting trees is no exception, particularly when the hillside that has been earmarked for renewal is covered with brambles and elder. Now, we love elder for the flowers and the berries – we make our own elderflower cordial, and there’s often homemade elderberry syrup found when cold and flu season hits – and there’s nothing like freshly picked blackberries, but when the hillside looks like the image to the right, well… I’d say things have got a little out of hand.

The only way to tackle this is with a tractor with a massive flail on the front, smash everything into tiny pieces and then start afresh. Unfortunately we don’t have a massive flail for a tractor, so I set to armed with brush-cutter (like a strimmer, but with a blade) and chainsaw, and a curse every time a thorn found one of the many holes in my gloves.

A week later, multiple fires, a little help, and far too long spent digging bits out of my hands with a blunt needle… and we are finally getting somewhere.

In the meantime we spent a lovely afternoon driving around the farm talking about our plans for woods and hedgerows with Hugh from Aveland Trees, and then had a reciprocal visit to their nursery and woodlands to learn his approach to growing worthwhile timber and creating habitat. The trees are ordered, I have just got to tidy up a little before we’re ready to plant…

Categories: Environment

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