Tales From The Wildwood BBC4

vaguely woodworking

Moderators: jrccaim, Bob_Fleet, gavin, Robin Fawcett, HughSpencer

Re: Tales From The Wildwood BBC4

Postby Brian Williamson » Fri Oct 26, 2012 7:24 am

You do find old pollards in woodlands but generally that would be because the woodland has grown up around them.

The basic reason for pollarding (it's not easy!) is to keep the regrowth above browsing animals. People went to great lengths to keep animals out of woods, hence coppice in woodlands and pollards out in the open (with the livestock). If you do find old pollards in woodland it suggests a change of land use at some period in the past.

The 2000 year lime in Westonbirt is now a very rough circle of individual stools. As time goes by, and the original stool gets bigger, it tends to shade out its centre and become hollow. Then the periphery starts breaking up. Then (as seems to have happened at Westonbirt) the centre gets so open that the individual, outer, stools start growing back into it! Hence the current, apparently haphazard scattering of small stools.

The oft quoted 20, 25 or 27 year cycle on which it has supposedly been cut is, of course, not so. For most of it's life it will have been cut as often (or as little) as demand for the poles dictated. It will only be in recent decades (with no economic necessity) that it has settled into a more regular and predictable cycle.

And it's going to be cut again in November!

Brian.
http://www.westcountrycoppice.co.uk

undergreenwood.wordpress.com

'Measure twice and cut once'
User avatar
Brian Williamson
Regular
 
Posts: 344
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2009 11:33 am
Location: Stroud, Glos..

Re: Tales From The Wildwood BBC4

Postby ToneWood » Fri Oct 26, 2012 2:06 pm

Interesting post Brian.

BTW it turns out one of the oaks I was thinking of was definitely pollarded (it looks pollarded too come to think of it), and, upon reflection, another probably was too (but not recently). The others are not obviously pollarded but who knows what might have been done to them in the past. Some are saddle oaks, perhaps that it a product of pollarding? But one is "the King of Limbs".
Image
Sorry, must have missed this on first read:
robin wood wrote:...No trees documented in Doomsday, I think the first properly documented individual tree is Gilbert White's Yew at Selbourne. How do you know your tree is 1000 or 1100 years old?
How do I know? That's an interesting question - how do we know anything? I guess I don't - hence my comment "presumably documented as mature trees after the Norman Conquest (1066) and/or sampled & ring-counted since". Watching Time Team recently, they are sometimes able to compare growth rings on trees/timber to identify particular years/periods (presumably by patterns of fast & slow growth - perhaps against a carbon-dated base-line?). But I don't have access to primary sources, I'm just going by what I read in newspapers, hear on the news and read on the web
e.g.
http://www.forestry.gov.uk/pdf/forestli ... life19.pdf
http://www.bbc.co.uk/dorset/content/art ... ture.shtml
http://www.bbc.co.uk/wiltshire/content/ ... ture.shtml,
and come across in history books. Some of the old trees I'm thinking of are landmarks to the locals, one was recorded as huge, old, and hollow (when they put a door on it) in 1760. I know of one historian who was given access to the archives of his local hereditary forest warden (the original incumbent fought at the battle of Hastings - I wasn't there, just read it somewhere :)) and wrote a local history based at least partially on what he found.
Last edited by ToneWood on Sat Oct 27, 2012 9:18 am, edited 4 times in total.
ToneWood
Regular
 
Posts: 1846
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:21 pm

Re: Tales From The Wildwood BBC4

Postby robin wood » Fri Oct 26, 2012 8:37 pm

The time team thing is Dendrochronology. It is a way of telling accurately to the year when a particular piece of wood was growing so long as you have a decent run of rings. It is often used in archaeology and also for dating standing timber frame buildings. If you have the last ring of sapwood you can tell the winter it was felled and hence the date to within 12 months of the building. It is of no use for discovering the age of a tree unless you have the central growth rings sequence in which case you could just count the rings anyway but all ancient trees are hollow. Oaks over 500 are pretty rare, most ancient oak pollards where there is good enough evidence to date them turn out to be 300-500.

I did a blog post with a beginners guide to ancient trees and woodland management a while ago http://greenwood-carving.blogspot.co.uk ... q=hatfield

I worked at Hatfield Forest NNR years ago home to a remarkable 8 species of pollards and was involved with the founders of the ancient tree forum, here's a nice Hatfield Oak
Image
http://www.robin-wood.co.uk bowls, books and courses
User avatar
robin wood
Regular
 
Posts: 1670
Joined: Thu Mar 30, 2006 10:21 am
Location: derbyshire

Re: Tales From The Wildwood BBC4

Postby ToneWood » Sat Oct 27, 2012 9:13 am

I didn't realize that some many different species of tree were pollarded. So, is the purpose of pollarding to allow continual, sustainable harvesting of wood from the same trees?
I thought pollarded trees were typically short trunks where the tops were cut out - leaving a trunk with small "undersized" branches sprouting out the top, But presumably the lime at Westonbirt was cut low down on the trunk to cause the multiple stems now seen, more like coppiced hazel.
ToneWood
Regular
 
Posts: 1846
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:21 pm

Re: Tales From The Wildwood BBC4

Postby Bulworthy Project » Sat Oct 27, 2012 9:23 am

We pollard some of our Ash, oak and willow because the deer would eat them before they got anywhere near large enough to turn to charcoal if we coppiced them.
Bulworthy Project is an experiment in low-impact living and working
http://www.bulworthyproject.org.uk
User avatar
Bulworthy Project
Regular
 
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2012 5:43 pm
Location: Rackenford, Devon

Re: Tales From The Wildwood BBC4

Postby Bulworthy Project » Sat Oct 27, 2012 9:41 am

Episode 3 of Tales from the Wild Wood on 31st Oct,has been picked as Critics Choice in Radio Times: http://www.radiotimes.com/episode/srxc9 ... -episode-3
Bulworthy Project is an experiment in low-impact living and working
http://www.bulworthyproject.org.uk
User avatar
Bulworthy Project
Regular
 
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2012 5:43 pm
Location: Rackenford, Devon

Re: Tales From The Wildwood BBC4

Postby Brian Williamson » Sat Oct 27, 2012 2:55 pm

ToneWood wrote: is the purpose of pollarding to allow continual, sustainable harvesting of wood from the same trees?
I thought pollarded trees were typically short trunks where the tops were cut out - leaving a trunk with small "undersized" branches sprouting out the top, But presumably the lime at Westonbirt was cut low down on the trunk to cause the multiple stems now seen, more like coppiced hazel.


That's a good question, Tonewood. I'm not sure that bit's one we can precisely answer.

The reason for pollarding (as opposed to coppicing) is to keep the regrowth out of the reach of browsing animals. Hence it is predominently found in old wood pastures. People worked very hard to keep browsing animals out of woods, so coppicing was relatively safe in those situations - and that's where you find it.

The product of coppice was primarily fuelwood. Pretty much any density of stools would produce suitable wood for fuel, but if you wanted high quality rods or poles you had to have your stools close together to force the regrowth to go straight up and keep branching to a minimum. This is exactly what you [u]dont[u] get with pollards; wood pasture is for grazing and the trees are well spaced.

So the inference is that pollarding wasn't producing quality wood for the making of hurdles and the like. I might except crack willow from this. My experience of these willow pollards in the Thames valley is that they produce really nice poles: really nice for gate hurdles.

This leaves two alternatives. That they were there to produce regular crops of fuelwood (maybe being cut on a five to ten year rotation?) or that they were there to produce foliage fodder for the livestock. There is plenty of evidence that foliage was fed to livestock, but I don't know if there is any specific evidence for pollards producing this material. If it was, I would hazard a guess that it was cut on quite short rotations (two or three years?). Of course it could have been a combination of the two - throw the branches to the beasts and retrieve the wood after the leaves (and bark) have been stripped.

One thing is certain, most of the pollards we see nowadays are the product of decades, if not centuries, of neglect. They would never have been allowed to grow such large branches in the past.

I'd be interested to hear if anyone has any definitive sources of information on the frequency and uses of past pollarding.

The lime 'tree' in Westonbirt is a genuine coppice, and I don't think that there is any evidence of its ever having been otherwise. In my part of the country (Gloucestershire) it is not particularly common. There are a deal of lime coppice woods in the east of the country, however.

Brian.
http://www.westcountrycoppice.co.uk

undergreenwood.wordpress.com

'Measure twice and cut once'
User avatar
Brian Williamson
Regular
 
Posts: 344
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2009 11:33 am
Location: Stroud, Glos..

Re: Tales From The Wildwood BBC4

Postby robin wood » Sat Oct 27, 2012 3:36 pm

Pollard rotation was an unanswered question when I was heavily involved 20 years ago. Mainland Europe there is a tradition of early landscape paintings and peasant scenes, Breugal and the likes which show pollarding and shredding (removing side branches) of trees but we don't have an early UK equivalent. There are records which show coppice rotations but not pollarding. Another factor with pollards is that the nearly always exist on land with multiple ownership so for instance the lord of the manor owns the grazing and maybe the pollard boles but the commoners have right to cut the branches and foliage. Once the enclosure acts brought ownership and management into one hand pollarding became unfashionable and was stopped so we get big fat hollow trunks with enormous tops on them, very unstable and a serious management problem.
http://www.robin-wood.co.uk bowls, books and courses
User avatar
robin wood
Regular
 
Posts: 1670
Joined: Thu Mar 30, 2006 10:21 am
Location: derbyshire

Re: Tales From The Wildwood BBC4

Postby ToneWood » Sat Oct 27, 2012 6:53 pm

RE. pollards & fuel. I did come across something in the last couple of days which mentioned that bakers (in London I think) liked hornbeam faggots for the "biscuity taste" they impart, which were apparently harvested from the same pollards over many years. I actually have an old brick bread oven in my house (the house I grew up in also had one - bricked up for many years) - nobody knew how to use it though (it has no chimney, which confuses most people). I finally figured it out but have never had the nerve to use it. I did however come across a book on such ovens at the Alternative Energy Centre in mid-Wales, which confirmed my theory.
ToneWood
Regular
 
Posts: 1846
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:21 pm

Re: Tales From The Wildwood BBC4

Postby Darren » Sat Oct 27, 2012 7:38 pm

What do you think of pollarding Hornbeam in woods rather than coppicing. One of my neighbours is pollarding old coppiced Hornbeam because of the deer. I think he is better cutting down to the ground and keeping the deer out.
Darren
Regular
 
Posts: 41
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2012 9:12 pm
Location: East grinstead, West Sussex

Re: Tales From The Wildwood BBC4

Postby Brian Williamson » Sat Oct 27, 2012 8:05 pm

ToneWood wrote:RE. pollards & fuel. I did come across something in the last couple of days which mentioned that bakers (in London I think) liked hornbeam faggots for the "biscuity taste" they impart, which were apparently harvested from the same pollards over many years.


I believe ( though I'll be very happy to be shown to be wrong) that there were (still are?) quite a few hornbeam copses (as opposed to pollards) around London which were managed specifically for fuelwood - it makes a particularly hot burning charcoal, I believe. It would be logical for the brash to be bundled up and used for faggots and it''s fascinating to hear that it was particularly favoured by bakers for its flavour.

Darren wrote:What do you think of pollarding Hornbeam in woods rather than coppicing. One of my neighbours is pollarding old coppiced Hornbeam because of the deer. I think he is better cutting down to the ground and keeping the deer out.


Interesting conundrum. The old practises of coppicing or pollarding arose because they filled a particular need in a particular place and time. Should one perservere with them when their need, time or place has gone? I've no definitive answer to that. If a new need arises, should that take precedent over historical uses? My instinct would be to say yes, but then I think of coniferisation and become less sure.

Fencing deer out (particularly if it is permanent fencing) will have an impact on all sorts of aspects of the wood, especially the ground flora. Pollarding may be a break with traditional practce, but could be less damaging (or should I say 'change inducing').

Brian.
http://www.westcountrycoppice.co.uk

undergreenwood.wordpress.com

'Measure twice and cut once'
User avatar
Brian Williamson
Regular
 
Posts: 344
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2009 11:33 am
Location: Stroud, Glos..

Re: Tales From The Wildwood BBC4

Postby ToneWood » Sun Oct 28, 2012 7:56 pm

Coppiced horn beam makes more sense to me too. Unfortunately can't recall the source (wasn't the TV program was it?). Yes, I 'm not a fan of conifer "deserts" either. I lived in a conifer "forest" for several years (no Royal Forests in the USA). Conifers block out light and suck all the moisture from the ground. The pollen can trigger severe allergies too.

This weekend, most of the leaves are still pretty green.
Old Oak.jpg
Big old oak
Old Oak.jpg (92.03 KiB) Viewed 10748 times
Old Oak + climber.jpg
With "wood elf", for scale
Old Oak + climber.jpg (90.98 KiB) Viewed 10727 times
Old-ish beech.jpg
Big old beech. Budding Ron Fawcett?
Old-ish beech.jpg (76.19 KiB) Viewed 10748 times

Not the biggest or oldest in the wood but trees of character.
Last edited by ToneWood on Tue Oct 30, 2012 8:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
ToneWood
Regular
 
Posts: 1846
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:21 pm

Re: Tales From The Wildwood BBC4

Postby robin wood » Mon Oct 29, 2012 1:04 am

Darren wrote:What do you think of pollarding Hornbeam in woods rather than coppicing. One of my neighbours is pollarding old coppiced Hornbeam because of the deer. I think he is better cutting down to the ground and keeping the deer out.


This is an interesting question. I would ask why are you cutting the wood in the first place, what is the history and what is the overall management plan? When I was managing pollards and coppice I was at Hatfield Forest and it is an NNR with significant nature conservation interest, and a honeypot for public recreation the point that made it most important, rare and special was that it had almost unbroken management practices for 1000 years. In that case changing from coppice to pollards would be very wrong. My gut feeling is that creating pollards within a wood is an odd thing to do, better eat the deer before they eat the trees.

Hornbeam is common in ancient woodlands in the south east particularly Essex, we had several hundred hornbeam pollards and many acres of ancient hornbeam coppice at Hatfield.
http://www.robin-wood.co.uk bowls, books and courses
User avatar
robin wood
Regular
 
Posts: 1670
Joined: Thu Mar 30, 2006 10:21 am
Location: derbyshire

Re: Tales From The Wildwood BBC4

Postby Brian Williamson » Mon Oct 29, 2012 6:50 am

Taking things back to the TV programme, what do people think about 'cooking' wood to produce a miracle fuel with zero moisture content?

Brian.
http://www.westcountrycoppice.co.uk

undergreenwood.wordpress.com

'Measure twice and cut once'
User avatar
Brian Williamson
Regular
 
Posts: 344
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2009 11:33 am
Location: Stroud, Glos..

Re: Tales From The Wildwood BBC4

Postby MikeM » Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:41 am

I thought that cooking thing looked very interesting. I guess my question about it, is that what's the market like? What people will they be aiming at who will pay a premium for expensive, but very hot burning firewood? I would imagine the people with solid fuel cookers will be interested, don't know how many of them there are.
MikeM
new member
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2012 4:32 pm
Location: NW Devon

PreviousNext

Return to Any other business

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests

cron