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Arlington Bluebell Walk Blog 31st August 2017

Preparations for the 46th Bluebell Walk

I have been remiss in not writing a monthly blog since this year’s Bluebell Walk closed. That does not mean nothing has been happening in the preparations for a successful Bluebell Walk next year, which will be the 46th!

 

The Battle against Weeds

Straight after the Bluebell Walk closed I spent many days removing cleavers, which are increasingly appearing in many places throughout Beatons Wood, as the small seeds stick to animals as they pass by. Thankfully it is an annual weed, so by diligently pulling it up before it sheds seeds then removing and burning it, we hope over the next few years it will begin to diminish. One of its many folklore names is bedstraw, as due to the tiny barbs on its small seeds, stems and leaves it sticks together, so useful when stuffing a mattress in the past, as it meant it remained matted together to give an even mattress!

 

 

 

The other battle is against the new growth of wild raspberry and brambles which continue to appear, even though over the past two years the well-established plants have been removed, but seedlings appear where we have coppiced (see photo), also the old mature roots seem to still have life in them!

 

 

 

 

 

This tedious job is virtually complete for this year, so I have had time to start removing weed grass from an area in the wood where it persists to the detriment of bluebells (see contrasting photos below).

 

The area in Beatons Wood that only grows weed grasses and no bluebells

 

Experimental area cleared of weed grasses

 

Next month I hope to spread saved bluebell seed in the areas cleared and I think it takes about three years once the seed has germinated to start flowering, so will monitor how successful we are.

 

Giant Oaks

I have childhood memories of picnicking in Beatons Wood when there were few brambles, but masses of wild strawberries, violets and of course the bluebells and wood anemones. Later I remember my father selling 200 of the largest oak trees, after the war restrictions on selling growing timber were lifted.  We had a caravan staying for many weeks with a father and son who cut each one down with a logging saw, such hard and tedious work and so very different now that chain saws can be used! Once these giant trees were felled with their large canopies, suddenly great open areas appeared throughout the wood. This encouraged the proliferation of brambles and wild raspberries, which tend to dissipate the vistas of blue that we all enjoy. We have not removed any of the brambles from the south west corner of the wood, as they are a wonderful source of food for many wild animals, especially dormice, which we are trying to encourage back here, as they are present in the adjoining Abbots Wood.

 

Coppicing

Looking around one sees the great benefit of coppicing, as the cut stumps are growing plus a vast number of dormant seeds of hornbeam trees have germinated (see photo), so we hope the deer will not browse them too closely and you can watch their progress each year you visit the Bluebell Walk. In areas of the wood where the hornbeam are mature, the only green growth are perennial ferns and butchers broom, signs of an ancient wood. The view of nothing but tree trunks masks that underneath there are bluebell bulbs and anemone rhizomes, just waiting for spring so they can suddenly emerge giving us those vistas of white wood anemone flowers followed by our wonderful bluebell display.

 

 

 

  

Butchers Broom – sign of an ancient wood

 

Hidden bluebell bulbs and anemone rhizomes waiting for Spring

 

Next blog post

My aim it to try and have the next Blog posted at the end of September.

John McCutchan

This message was added on Thursday 31st August 2017


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