For all I complain about commercial woodland on this blog, I must admit that I do see some value in trees. Not that I’d consider planting them in symetrical blocks a la Forestry Commission, but rather that they can provide some great habitat for all sorts of wildlife. The last thing I want is to smother the Chayne in of the Scottish Executive’s “reforest Scotland” sponsored eco plantations, but a scattering of spinneys and little woodland patches here and there is no bad thing in anyone’s eyes.
Over the last few days, I’ve begun my annual collection of trees. A friend runs an enormous area of commercial woodland, and I’m allowed free to collect any self-sown oddments that I find on the paths and forest rides. In one trip this week, I collected over a hundred silver birches and scattering of willows, rowans and scots pines, and then spent the day today installing them. One in every three trees gets the full treatment, with a stake and guard, just incase the roe deer descend like locusts and I lose absolutely everything. It also means that the trees which have guards race up out of the ground and give a good mixed canopy in the early years.
Tree guards are great for giving young trees a boost of fast, early growth, but they do restrict a tree’s ability to branch out and form a low canopy just above the ground. It’s good to have a mixture of the two, and over the next few weeks, I hope to plant a few hundred more. It could be that I will have to buy in some alders, hawthorns and holly bushes, but with the majority of trees found and foraged for free, I can’t really complain.