This is a pretty little piece of Birch wood. But most of the trees are scrub grown, too thin and spindly or crooked to ever become sizeable trees and because of their poor start and the relatively poor soil on the commons they are very prone to die early. Time to consider the succession plan.
Tradition has it that woodland is either planted or left to natural succession. In the case of Birch I don’t subscribe to either solution. Birch scrub is a very poor selection mechanism for good tree specimens and if you have plenty of it the idea of buying Birch trees from a nursery seems a little mad. So I have a new recipe for creating good quality Silver Birch woods which goes a bit like this. Take an area of seemingly overgrown scrub and add the following ingredients. Mix in a crowd of enthusistic volunteers (Nice Billhook Roy)
It’s hard to believe that this is almost the same view but with 95% of the rubbish removed and selected saplings retained – you have no idea how hard it is to get Volunteers to leave anything standing, let alone leave the biggest straightest stems!
The best of the Birch (I pick straight stemmed Silver Birch) have been threaded (lower branches removed) to improve the quality of the trees. This new copse will grow on to become a screen whilst we gradually remove and regenerate the old Birch trees behind.
I found a little time at the end of the day to start felling the old Birch. This one had flared into a classic Birch buttress at the base and it was large enough that it was longer than the bar on my small saw and I needed to cut from both sides (I’ve not done a lot of practice recently so I was very pleased with the straight felling cuts and hinge )
As the sun sets this Silver Birch shows why it’s Latin name is Betula Pendula. As the tree matures the ends of the branches tip over and hang downwards. Over the next few years it will be very interesting to see how this experiment develops – perhaps we can lay to rest the old myth that our Birch in the UK is inferior to Scandanavian Birch?