When I returned home from my travels and discovered the joys of gardening as opposed to just the garden, one of the subjects I took a great interest in and read about was trees. I have confessed earlier to being a tree hugger in my youth and although age had given me experience and more ambivalence toward them, (like the ocean they can turn unpredictably malign:) I still liked them
I had viewed for myself many woods and forests and even fossilized remains of forests as I wandered the globe. Ricked my neck staring up into dizzying heights. Now I read all about their role in the garden.
My new garden was no where near being large enough for a woodland let alone a forest. But I had read how good trees were for wildlife and that is what I wanted - a wood.
In two of our gardens we had a wood on the other side of our boundary. All the benefits, none of the agro. The shade loving plants romping on our side of the fence. In one, we also had a bank which we used for weeds, grass clippings and wood clippings a natural compost heap. It was a wonderful affair running along side the wood on the other side of a wire fence.
This new garden of mine was never going to give me a wood, surrounded as we are by other dwellings.
If only I won a lotto ticket
If only some unknown relative would leave a fortune to moi.
Nah. Life is never quite as good as happy ever after novels:)
However in my reading I also discovered I could create something called a woodland edge. The outermost strip of a wood, full of wild life potential.
I could do that.
So with 80 bags of well rotted compost from a previous garden, 80 bags of free horse manure from a horse lover in the next village. I began to dig out the building site left behind after the abode had been built. Sorting the stones and rubble into an insect wall and digging in all those lovely nutrients.
I could not even attempt it now and it was only just over a decade ago for goodness sake! It was hard work. I’ll not deny it. Why, oh why, did I make life so difficult for myself. A nice lawn and a few potted plants. That was all I needed?
When the saplings arrived - after a great deal of research into the best tress for my purpose - they looked so frail and puny, causing me wonder again about my sanity.
They sat and stared morosely out at the rest of the building site. They sat and stared throughout the next year seemingly not anticipating very much in my dream. Unflinchingly unimpressed with my efforts.
Then with an explosive burst of vigour they were away.
'Just waiting for our roots to establish' they informed as they raced past.
From that burst to now they have never been watered by me. No bottle feed, just endless layers of weeds, lawn clippings from the neighbours gardens, prunings and fallen leaves all nicely rotting down and keeping them going.
A mixed hedge of tall medium and small co-existing in their own interpretation of a woodland edge.
I have coppiced twice now for the wood burning stove, collected the cob nuts and blackberries. Been deafened by the hum of insect life and have listened to the furtive rustles of the rodents. The birds are always busy in and out and fledglings are raised successfully year after year.
My woodland edge may only be one tree deep and stretched over yards not miles but it is such an asset to the garden it was worth every sweaty back breaking moment of its creation.