Combining woodland with meadow, this Jubilee Wood Project, which celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, was initiated by Beilby Forbes Adam, 25, following his MA degree in Landscape Architecture at Sheffield University. Having completed essential site surveys, Beilby engaged the assistance of the Woodland Trust, and sought grant aid from the Forestry Commission. The project has been taken up by Rosalind Forbes Adam, together with conservation consultant, Tango Fawcett, and horticulturalist, Lin Hawthorne. Rosalind is married to Charles Forbes Adam, owner of Escrick Park Estate, which has been in the family for nearly 350 years.
Between 2012 and 2013 we planted some 10,000 trees and shrubs at Three Hagges Wood-Meadow. At almost ten hectares (25 acres) we believe the wood to be the largest plantation of newly created, deciduous native woodland this Jubilee year in the Selby District. With a long lease at a peppercorn rent, we are able to provide an uncommon degree of continuity and knowledge in managing and nurturing the wood.
Open to the public and planted with the help of the local community, the wood is very accessible. Bordering the A19 between Riccall and Escrick, our new woodland holds enormous potential for educational and community events with local schools and a range of community groups.
We do not believe that the simple planting of trees is the same as creating a woodland. A natural woodland comprises several layers of vegetation, from the ground flora to the canopy, each making a niche for a huge diversity of creatures. To attempt to create this intimate web of habitats we have called on arboricultural, agricultural, and horticultural skills, combined with an ecological awareness and the understanding of the need for thoughtful and consistent aftercare and management.
Our aspiration is to replicate natural native woodland. The wood will comprise a canopy of oak, lime and beech, an edge mix of cherry, crab apples, thorns, rowan and hazel, and a shrub layer of flowering and fruiting natives. The long-term control of pernicious weeds will help to create conditions for the introduction of a herb layer that resembles that of ancient woodland, ‑ wood anemones, wild daffodils, bluebells, moschatel, primroses, violets ‑ thus further enhancing biodiversity.
Our plan includes rides between the trees ‑ the preferred habitat of up to 60% of woodland flora – and open glades sown with fine grasses and grassland perennials. The seed mixes are of high botanical and conservation value, and will provide habitat for small mammals, insects, bees and butterflies. In the long term, these grassy areas can be home to rare plants such as fritillaries, marsh gentians and orchids.
Together, they mimic the ancient land management system of wood-meadow, now rare in the UK, but extant in Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. Such systems have many transitional zones, and it is these that can more than double the diversity potential for all forms of wild life that rely on the native flora at the base of the ecological pyramid. Grassland is the nursery of all forest wood and systems.
Both woodland and grassland bring benefits with regard to carbon capture, and the wood will be registered with the Carbon Code being set up by the Forestry Commission.
The close perusal of the fascinating old maps of the Escrick Park Estate, some of which date back to 1600, revealed a number of plots bearing variations on the word hag, including Rickall Hagge, Child Haggs, and Helm Hag. As is common with many northern dialect words, in all these forms the word indicates the old Scandinavian presence in the locality, which is no surprise considering the much celebrated Viking presence in this part of Yorkshire.
Hagg has several meanings. In Old Norse, it means a portion of a wood marked off for cutting, and a hag wood is one fitted for having a regular cutting of trees in it, thus suggesting the ancient practice of coppicing, which fits our intention to manage our hazels by coppicing. As hag, or hagi, the word also means a pasture or enclosure, so that fits nicely with the inclusion of grassy glades in our planting scheme. We also discovered that hag is equivalent to the haw in hawthorn, and in Swedish, hagg is the name for blackthorn – both species included in the mix in Three Hagges Wood.
When we also discovered that the modern word hag, referring to an ugly old crone, was actually a corruption of the original meaning of the word, the resonances were complete. It once was a magic word for a soothsayer, which eventually came to be applied to the village wise women who, in this case, are our own three hags, the keepers of the Three Hagges Jubilee Wood.