Preaching to the choir …

by Three Hagges Wood Meadow in Birds, Community, Education, Fauna (Animals), Flora (Plants), Grasses, Insects, Mammals, Management, Trees, Wildflowers 2

  in the early planning stages at Three Hagges Jubilee Wood in 2012, our prime concern was simply to avoid creating yet another plantation with a ground flora of nettles and brambles.  Two years down the line, this now seems achievable given careful planning and management.  Our initial costings indicate that it may be just possible within the existing Forestry Commission grant framework for new community woodlands, though we mustn’t overlook the cushion provided by a supportive landlord in Charlie Forbes Adam, the owner of Escrick Park Estate.  Not least of which is a 35-year lease at a peppercorn rent, with permissive access dawn-to-dusk year round. though our initial objectives are worthy, in the light of […]

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Three Hagges Wood, the story so far ….

by Three Hagges Wood Meadow in Fauna (Animals), Flora (Plants), Grasses, Insects, Management, Meadows, Trees, Wildflowers 0

  Why exactly are we trying to create an ecosystem at Three Hagges Wood? The end of the year is always a time of review and preview for me.  And though I’ve always been a bit of deadline girl, so much has happened at Three Hagges Wood this year, I’ve been provoked to begin early if I’m to assimilate it all. When first we set out to create a Jubilee Wood, one of the simplest objectives was to avoid making a plantation with an understorey of brambles and nettles.  It was clear from the outset that careful management was key to this.  Then, like Topsy, objectives grew and grew, until eventually our ambitions encompassed the creation of an […]

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A Meadow, it’s just grass, right?

by Three Hagges Wood Meadow in Fauna (Animals), Flora (Plants), Grasses, Insects, Management, Meadows, Wildflowers 2

  No, actually, it absolutely is not just grass.  Such is my current obsession with meadows that I wake most mornings with lyrical words concerning them on my lips. The lyrics run like this.   “To be sure, a meadow is thing of beauty, joy and wonder”. And “our meadow this summer was all those things”. But it’s much, much more than that. So let’s clarify. What is a meadow? We’ re all familiar with Nigel Dunnett’s glorious Olympic Park meadows of 2012. Their beauty and romance captivated and lifted the spirits. They make an extraordinarily rich nectar source for bees and butterflies, are eminently suited to garden, urban and suburban environments and as a starting point for […]

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What about that yellow rattle?

by Three Hagges Wood Meadow in Community Events, Flora (Plants), Management, Meadows, Soil, Weed control, Wildflowers 2

Last autumn we had prepared our stale seedbed well in advance of the proposed sowing date for the meadow, the final deadline that we set ourselves being the 15th October 2012. We lived daily in hope that a damp, sun-warmed seedbed would be perfectly receptive for the precious and expensive seed mix. Hah! The heavens opened and the tap stayed on for weeks; the seedbed was then neither sun-warmed nor receptive.  It was inundated, stayed inundated all winter, and it was the beginning of May before conditions for sowing came good again.  The whole 10ha. of meadow germinated well, was glorious throughout summer, and most of us were thrilled by the shimmer of pollinators above the nurse crop […]

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Drinks in the Meadow Anyone?

by Three Hagges Wood Meadow in Birds, Community Events, Fauna (Animals), Flora (Plants), Grasses, Insects, Management, Meadows, Weed control, Wildflowers 0

  for months, we have been looking obsessively for noxious weeds and worrying whether any disastrous thing would happen to the meadow before it managed to flower, reassuring each other continuously that it would be alright on the night.  Despite having in my mind’s eye a hopeful and pretty picture of our meadow’s first year, I wasn’t fully prepared for the truly joyous spectacle of our meadow in full bloom.  It really has surpassed anything I could have imagined, and now we are breathless for all the best reasons. And a big part of this has been due to our guests’ reactions when we took Drinks in the Meadow on the 15th of August.  We have been […]

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Flushed with full colour

by Three Hagges Wood Meadow in Flora (Plants), Grasses, Management, Meadows, Weed control, Wildflowers 0

it is almost two months since we sowed the ground layer that will be a vital component in our vision of Three Hagges Jubilee Wood, and it’s a month since the appearance of the green haze that declared germination was underway.  We reckoned on a twelve week interval between sowing and flowering:  sowing during the third week in May 2013 should produce a dazzling panoply by the beginning of August, although flowers are budding up even as a I write.  The now obvious differentiation between all the seedlings caused heart-fluttering excitement – probably just as much as will the eventual blooming.  Whilst I feel slightly geeky about this, I was thrilled to identify individual species, and all of the […]

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Ready to Roll (and Rock) …

by Three Hagges Wood Meadow in Flora (Plants), Grasses, Management, Meadows, Uncategorized, Weed control, Wildflowers 0

Finally … finally, by the 9th of May, conditions have improved to the extent that Nick Leaf has been able to drill the base layer of grassland seed for Three Hagges Jubilee Wood.  Not without trauma, however.     We first created our stale seed last autumn, in the hope of grabbing the first opportunity to sow our two grassland mixtures into moist and summer-warmed soil.  The main principle of the technique is to prepare a fine seedbed ready for drilling in the seed, then to await the germination of flocks of weed species that then are sprayed off before sowing. Then there must be absolutely minimal disturbance of the soil surface prior to sowing, in the expectation that any […]

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Attacking the Nettles

by Three Hagges Wood Meadow in Birds, Flora (Plants), Grasses, Insects, Mammals, Trees, Weed control, Wildflowers 0

  some major threads of thought on the development of Three Hagges Wood have emerged during our dormant winter months. The first was prompted by a constructively critical review of the last blog, The Burden of Weeds, which included comments regarding the wildlife value of nettles, thistles and brambles. The second was provoked by an excellent Radio 4 programme on 12th February 2013, Costing the Earth, with Tom Heap, entitled When Nettles Attack.  It examined the increasing problem that native invasives present to biodiversity and drew on the work of, amongst others, Dr Lindsay Maskell at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. They include, of course, the usual suspects: nettles, thistles and brambles, the big three. Something of a dichotomy […]

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The Burden of Weeds

by Three Hagges Wood Meadow in Flora (Plants), Management, Weed control 1

Whenever anyone asks that question about what exactly is a weed, the commonplace and altogether unhelpful answer is usually that it is simply a plant/wildflower in the wrong place. This is at best a half truth. Weeds, and especially those pernicious and obnoxious weeds that we expect to have to deal with on the site of Three Hagges Jubilee Wood, are a group of particularly robust –even aggressive ‑ plants that have developed a number of strategies to ensure their own successful survival.  They are seldom fussy as to soil type, and often are expert and hardy colonizers of bare ground.  They are prolific in the production of fertile seed, and profligate in its distribution, often blown by the wind […]

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Let the Planting Begin!

by Three Hagges Wood Meadow in Flora (Plants), Management, Trees 0

Although our first tree planting date, 2nd December, 2012, makes us feel like we are really getting started on the creation of this new woodland, we have already done a great deal of behind-the-scenes work on the site, firming up our aims and mission, and the plans to fulfil them. Since we are using only native species, the selection of the trees is relatively straightforward – there are, after all, only 30-odd trees that qualify as native, along with a dozen or so tree-like shrubs.  These are the ones that colonised here in the wake of retreating glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age some 8‑10,000 years ago (there are more refined definitions […]

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