Sometime I am going to learn to publish shorter posts. But not yet, though at least this one will be long on images rather than text so you can always just scroll through the pictures. I’ve spent most of the last week at the New Forest Show which takes place in the heart of the New Forest between Brockenhurst and Lyndhurst. Having taken my bicycle and gone down early to sort out my pitch I was rewarded with some time and good weather to get some exercise in the forest.
The New Forest is a forest in the true sense of the word, in that it’s not all dense woodland, with lots of areas of grazing, rough pasture, woodland pasture and open heathland in addition to the ancient woodlands, mixed woodlands and inevitable plantations. The mosaic of landscapes is part of what makes the area such a special place.
Mind you there are some big trees there. I had to put a car into this photo just to give a sense of the size of some of the big firs and pines along the Rhinefield ornamental drive.
Alongside the drive is a small arboretum. I was disappointed that it seemed full of such ‘exotic’ species as Norway Spruce and Douglas Fir. I even spotted a small Western Hemlock that seemed to have seeded itself from an adjoining plantation, but in between were some interesting trees. Any ideas about this one?
Passing through one woodland I couldn’t quite figure out what was wrong for a while until I realised that the whole oak wood had been defoliated, probably by a similar caterpillar attack to the ones we’ve had on the Lynchmere Commons for the last couple of years. At first the trees look completley bare, but a much closer inspection reveals the start of some lammas growth, that is a new flush of leaves. The lammas growth is certainly late but perhaps thats an intentional reaction by the tree to ensure that the caterpillars have all left the scene and avoid losing the regrowth as well?
I stopped off for a look at the Knightwood Oak, at least 600 years old and the largest oak tree in the Forest, despite having had a few limbs chopped off in recent years. Hard to get a perspective of the tree, but it’s about 25feet in girth.
It has its own special enclosure these days, but it’s still not easy to get a feel for the size of the tree and unlike many parkland oaks (Dave Elliott posted on a cracker recently – The Queen Elizabeth Oak – on his excellent Speckled Wood blog) it has grown upwards in the woodland so it has less of a spreading habit.
On the way back I stopped for a while to enjoy the atmosphere of the woodland. I couldn’t help thinking I was being watched……..
And just possibly I was….. I suspect that the tree spirit in this tree might be related to one of Robin Fawcett’s tribe from the Epping Forest?
Some interesting slabwood bench designs around. But unfortunately more on the looks than the comfort, I can’t really understand why the back is set so low and upright, a little more height and slant and it would have been a fine bench, but perhaps we’re not supposed to linger?
It’s hard to get such a large expanse of forest perfectly managed and there is always something that will be not to my taste. The amount of cordwood stacked and left to rot by the side of the rides was astounding and very annoying to a woodsman like myself.
I’m not against leaving wood – here is a great example – but failing to extract cordwood because it’s not a full lorry or forwarder load is wasteful and needs to better managed. The FC used to issue licences to extract the ‘brash’ as firewood but stopped the practice citing ‘insurance issues’ ie Health and Safety, as far as I remember. I think if we are to become more involved with our woodlands then this is a practice that should be reintroduced.