total idiot has an insane rush of blood to head

Campanula UK Z8November 3, 2012

Hi woodlanders, after a good 10 years causing mayhem on the antique roses forum, Mr.Campanula and I have bought a wood. Well, not exactly a wood, more an old poplar plantation in serial neglect. There is a long (and tedious) tale behind this lunatic plan but nonetheless, the deed is done and we now have 6 acres of basically flat, deep, sandy silty soil facing the river Yare in Norfolk, East Anglia. To say we know not a great deal about trees would be the kindest way of putting things - having a minute city garden and a couple of allotments meant that trees were something for other people (although I have snuck a few rowans (from seed) and numerous fruit trees about the allotments. My home garden consists of many perennials and one tiny coral bark maple. about some pointers about the best trees for the soil and situation (damp - possible flood plain although East Anglia is the dryest part of the UK) To say we are sh****ng ourselves is the understatement of the century (there is the little matter about our impending homelessness and relocation to a horsebox....but that is another tale).

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well I would go with the following choices:
Elms,willows,dawn redwood,and bald cypress.
You might even be able to plant a coast redwood (tallest tree on Earth).All of these can handle damp conditions.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 9:59PM
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No need to rush! Why not settle on restoration of the land to native conditions? Check out the link below to find out about the native trees of England. Does the property have wild animals, such as deer?? wild animals of England

Here is a link that might be useful: British Trees

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 3:23AM
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Campanula UK Z8

Ho, the word 'rush' simply never figures in my confused but hipefully benign worldview. Given the horrible news regarding our iconic ash trees (a rerun of Dutch Elm again), the poplar monoculture suddenly seems like a good option since we can gradually restock with an eye to pathogens decimating our ecosystem. But yep, we aim to be more Norfolk than Norfolk and allow pioneers such as downy birch and crack willow a chance to re-establish once we have done a bit of creative felling. Even so, 6 acres of woodland is a far cry from 36 square metres of urban garden and a quarter acre of public allotment. We are probably going to need to invest in a bit of helpful machinery as I cannot see my trusty spade making much of an impasse on the swathes of bramble and nettle. We are horticulturists with a limited knowledge of arboriculture but are willing to learn and have a couple of strong sons (under the maternal thumb and all). As for wild animals, we are singularly blessed (or cursed according to viewpoint) with every type of bat endemic to the UK plus a startling array of birds including the heartbreakingly lovely skylark (I can hear Vaughn-Williams Lark Ascending in my head already). Less welcome is the horrid little muntjac deer (fencing and hedgelaying is going to be a major task) but they are, at least, edible (along with a million coneys - mmm, rabbit pie!) As something of an amateur basket maker, I have already sequestered a corner for the osier beds. Here in the UK, flooding is cecoming a major issue but so far, we have, as a nation, been tardy in considering swales, berms, rain gardens and other man-made solutions to challenging water flows and, as it would be prudent to expect at least one overtopping tidal flooding of the Yare every winter, this is a potential game-changer (our local Cam is a mannerly urban river managed by the usual lochs and gates with only an occassional flooding of the nearby common) so water, in its many manifestations, is probably the most worrying element. A crazy adventure but still, we all need to dream.......

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 8:54AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Campanula - I also have a small wood(23 acres) and the best thing you could do is spend a season watching the wood and leaving it alone, other than dealing with any invasives. Collect wild flower and tree seed now and start off some babies with local provenance. Obviously, if you wish to stick with native species leave out the dawn redwoods and bald cypress. Look to see what grows in your area - not all regions will have the same trees. But you know all this.

Three things I'd do: join the Small Woods Association, who have a wealth of advice and courses. Seek out Forestry Commission publications and explore their wealth of info. on grants, law etc., many of which you can down load. And get Woodland Owners' Insurance in case some idiot hurts themselves falling over a twig on your property.

Have fun!

Small Woods:
Forestry commission:

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 2:07PM
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Campanula UK Z8

Ha, I did wonder, Flora, having peeked at a few of your pics, whether you had a bit of woody acreage. Before this latest adventure, I fantasised about arboretums and crazy things like a collection of sorbus or a madrone.....but taking custody of an actual piece of landscape has brought out the puritan in me. Of course, I am not likely to be so precious about planting perennials. I could try but would definately fail....and then there are roses, my great weakness - mostly wildlings but even so. The entire south side of the land opens onto a water meadow and the river Yare so I am seeing umbellifers, grasses and white willowherb in my head (and heaps of other stuff) but you are right, I think, to advise being patient and circumspect. I am not one for rushing into things (lazy and distracted)and will probably take a year just looking and thinking. Cheers for the website info too.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 7:12PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Ooh - water meadow - lucky you!. One of our most threatened habitats. I see yellow flags, snakeshead fritillaries, meadow sweet, kingcups, flowering rush, arrowhead etc. I have grown meadowsweet, cowslips, watermint and celery leaved buttercup from wild collected see. It's easy and perfect for sowing now. I'm a bit dubious about adding non native perennials myself. Look what happened with Himalayan Balsam. But bulking up what is already there would be brilliant. I think it is important to see this as a wood, not a garden, since it connects with the wider landscape and you can do your bit for conservation. If you have a local Biological Survey team they might come out and do a survey for you - it's amazing what they find. I had some unusual snails, apparently, which I would never have known on my own.

p.s. is it at Snetterton???

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 5:25AM
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Campanula UK Z8

nope, it is at Postwick, just outside Norwich. It is not really a wood as such - it was put down to arable crops, probably sugar beet, until 60 years ago when it was sold off to a land agency who wanted an easy return, low labour investment so planted hybrid poplars. Of course, matchwood was not really needed by the 70/80s and the wood has been in terminal neglect since then. I do see what you are saying about connecting with the wider landscape but doesn't everything? Moreoever, it is a landscape which has been totally artificially created by 1000 years of intensive human nanagement. As such, I am afraid that I will be treating parts of it as a garden (although this begs the question as to what exactly constitutes a garden, along with the other question of what can be considered 'native'). This is an area fraught with contention but the fact that rows of hybrid poplars are neither ecologically necessary nor aesthetically thrilling releases me from any obligation to remain 'pure', especially since more of what is already here basically consists of nettle, bramble, poplar, 4 small oaks, a few bits of hawthorn and some scrappy elder and willow. I think I can do better than that and have some confidence that I have a degree of restraint to avoid aggressive thugs such as himalayan balsam, purple loosestrife. Of course, this is all a step into the unknown for me so it would be spectacularly silly to get all dogmatic - I expect I may wince a few years from now after amending my plans for the 80th time.

However, conservation issues aside, I am hoping to be able to bombard you with questions since you clearly have extensive knowledge and experience (I am afraid I can only contribute enthusiasm and a terribly selfish but urgent desire for a piece of land to grow things on).

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 7:18PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Very exciting, Campanula. You will have lots of fun. I'd get tree guards on the oaks if they are still browsable height by the deer. The cheapest I've found come from Acorn Products. Have you seen it in Spring? May be some nice surprises if you are lucky.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 4:37AM
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have you considered viburnums and elderberries? there are many varieties, all of them have pretty leaves and prolific blooms, produce lots of berries and feed creatures from bees and butterflies to birds and mammals. your location sounds perfect for them. good luck with your project!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 9:05PM
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