Woodland Watch – Week 26 – 11/09/2013

Wow, where does the time go? Seriously, I missed a couple of weeks of woodland watch as work went absolutely crazy on us and next thing you know its autumn. How on earth did that happen?!

Well, I suppose I should start with wishing you a happy autumn! We hope you had a lovely summer and are looking forward to the changing seasons!

I love the autumn. I’m not a fan of being cold and autumn generally stays just about warm enough for me. You get some of the lovely late summer weather with some beautiful September days (hense my decision to get married in early September 2012!), but you start to get the crisp mornings and autumn evenings as well. There’s just nothing quite like sitting around a campfire cooking sausages on an autumn evening.

Enjoying an autumnal evening around a campfire with friends!

Enjoying an autumnal evening around a campfire with friends!

Anyway, enough reminiscing about autumns past! Lets take a look at our woodland and see what has been going on. Due to one thing or another it has been a few weeks since I last visited and this week it was both exciting to see the leaves starting to change colour and a little sad to be saying goodbye to summer!

I’m afraid we’re a little low on pictures this week due to the trusty iphone battery being dead as a doornail during my visit, but i’ll be sure to take some next week!

Most enjoyable for me on this wander through the woodland was emerging out into the meadow on the southern boundary and feasting on the blackberries in the hedgerow! Many of them are not ripe yet, promising a great harvest later on in the season, but there were plenty to keep me occupied foraging for a while.

blackberries-04 Just along the boundary hedge with the woodland there was also a lovely apple tree, bursting with fruit. The apples were still very sharp and i’m afraid the one I took a bite out of ended up being thrown back for the birds and animals, but given a bit of time to ripen they’ll go nicely with the blackberries.

So, sorry to focus on food again! I really do have a one track mind! But here’s a few blackberry and apple recipes I came across in my research:

Here’s a wonderful recipe for Blackberry and Apple Cobbler:


Blackberry and apple cobbler

Blackberry and apple cobbler

I’ll admit I was hooked at the mention of a scone topping so definitely looking forward to trying this one out!

Or for a savoury option, how about this blackberry and apple chutney? Perfect with ham and cheese for a real hobbit lunch/dinner!


Blackberry and apple chutney

Blackberry and apple chutney

So, on that note, we’ll leave it for this week. Next week we’ll take a more detailed walk through the woods and see how its changing as we move into autumn. It doesn’t seem like any time at all since I was walking through in the snow and the frost, I can’t believe we’re heading towards the first frosts of autumn soon!

Enjoy your own walks in the woods and don’t forget to look out for the fungi which will start to emerge soon!

See you next week and enjoy blackberrying!



Caring for your New Tree

Look after your young trees!

We hope your new tree is planted and getting on well in its new location. Now that it has had a couple of months to settle in, we thought we would get in touch and give you a few tips on caring for your new tree.

Mature trees have enough of an established network of fine roots to manage their water intake effectively. Large trees’ water uptake is considerable, especially as the leaves transpire water in warm breezes. Here’s a good pub fact for you – 100 mature trees capture over 1,137,000 litres of water per year!

So we can pretty much let our mature trees get on with it, and unless hot weather lasts a long time, they are able to cope. Our smaller trees however do need some help. As they are less established, so is the root network, and if they have been recently planted, the soil will be less able to retain moisture. What can we do to help? Watering is the easy answer, but how can we manage the amount of water used so as not to waste it? Firstly, over watering is almost as bad as no watering, so don’t go mad. Too much water applied to the surface of the soil will encourage shallow roots, and so in the longer term will actually reduce the tree’s drought resistance. However, if your tree starts to wilt, here are some top tips.

Water in the evening, when the air is cooler and less water will evaporate. In strong sunlight, drops of water can act as magnifying lenses and scorch the leaves, so wait until the sun is weaker.

Use a water butt, or grey water, but ensure that you haven’t used any nasty chemicals first! If in doubt, change your washing up liquid! (An old bushcraft trick is to use horse chestnut leaves which are brilliant for scrubbing. I have used them in the wild as washing up liquid, and they are very effective and produce a good lather. Even greasy barbecue plates and dishes came up squeaky clean!)

If possible without disturbing the roots or when planting, consider some kind of irrigation system. This does not have to be fancy or expensive, an offcut of hose pipe with holes in, with the top just above soil level will ensure the water goes to where it’s needed.

Water not only the base of the stem, but further out, beyond the canopy. The further out the roots go, the finer they are, and this is where water and nutrients are taken in. Watering too far out is not a problem, and will encourage the roots to spread further and therefore next summer be better established!

Put down some plant feed. Tree roots take up nutrients in dissolved form in water, so add this to the water if possible.

Putting mulch around the base of trees is always good practice – not only does it reduce competition for the water from other plants, but it helps to retain in the soil what moisture there is. Make sure you don’t pile mulch up around the base of the stem though, aim for a doughnut shape as shown below rather than a volcano which can cause moisture and insect problems.


Now after all that work, go and fetch a drink and enjoy the last moments of summery weather! 

As always, if you have any further questions or concerns regarding your trees, please do not hesitate to contact us.