Scrub Transplants

Bags of willow cuttings have been put into the blackcock bog

Having spent a couple of days gathering bags of foot-long willow cuttings from across the county, I soaked them in a bucketful of water overnight last night and took them up to the Chayne this morning. Overlooked by the blackcock as he perched near the top of a chestnut tree, I crisscrossed the bog, jamming the cuttings in wherever I found a wet-looking area of ground.

Having experimented with similar cuttings last year, I found that willow is extremely resilient, and it quickly puts out roots from a snipped stem as if there was no problem at all. The blackcock makes most of his living by feeding on willow buds throughout April and into May, and so any artificial additions I can make to the food that he has on offer are sure to be very welcome. Eventually, I’d like to turn the whole bog into a tangle of moss, heather, willow, rowan and aspen, which should support a huge variety of birds and mammals.

Having accidentally bought a huge number of hawthorn saplings at a tree auction on Friday, I was confronted with problem of where I was going to plant the damn things. I now plan to set up a hedge along one of the dyke backs, but any trees left over can be thrown into the blackcock bog. Black grouse enjoy dining out on haws when they ripen in the autumn, and attractive sprays of white blossom will make an decent corner out of what is essentially an area of overgrown wasteland.

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