Our Woodland Work at The Firs
Over the past year our Gardener Dawne and her team of volunteers have been working hard on creating a woodland habitat at The Firs.
With the help of a team of qualified tree surgeons the dead trees in the area were cut down. We ensured that all dangerous overhanging branches were removed and a beautiful clearing emerged. Larger limbs were cut into stumps to create seats then the smaller straight branches were broken down and made into drumsticks for our wooden musical instruments in the sound garden. All the small brash was chipped and kept on site and used as a base for the walkway for the children. Come and feel how spongy it is to walk on.
The dead willow tree in the centre of the clearing was assessed as safe and could be used as a habitat. The Ivy covering the willow is a wonderful habitat for insects and birds.
Alongside the Ivy we have Holly both produce berries for the birds in the winter as well as our Elderberry and Damsons on the surrounding trees.
Our nearby birdfeeders are always topped up with a variety of different foods like fat balls and Niger seeds. Dawne also hangs apple strings between the trees to make sure there is always enough for our birds to eat.
In summer the stinging nettles that surround the woodland clearing are the Red Admiral caterpillar’s favourite find.
By opening up the woodland floor to the daylight, it’s prompted new seedlings and saplings to grow – it’s also a perfect environment for toadstools.
The ground litter is full of beetles too, which our local Robins love.
A variety of different bird boxes were placed around The Firs including the woodland which allows visitors to sit and to listen to the birds tweeting and chattering all year round. In the summer time you can hear the Birch trees sway and talk.
" The trees are singing my music - or have I sung theirs?"
Dawne and House Steward Joe created a Hedgehog house by recycling timber furniture then covering it in foliage and logs to create an inviting home. We make sure the inside has plenty of warm and dry bedding and when we see signs of the bedding being disturbed we know that it is being used.
The Firs is home to two bug hotels, a large one by the cottage and a smaller more boutique hotel in the woodland itself. Again it was created from recycled drawers and broken terracotta pots providing a varied habitat for many creepy crawlies.
Dead hedge – our corridor for wildlife
Built with the garden volunteers.
If you take a stroll into our woodland you can see we’ve been busy building a ‘dead hedge’ around the perimeter.
If you’re not familiar with a dead hedge let me explain further. It’s a hedge made from piles of surplus branches, twigs and leaves arranged and constructed to form a barrier. It has uprights that are driven into the ground, and branches and twigs are laid within these and entwined to create a very strong and durable natural structure.
The benefits of creating this are numerous - as we’ve been using the branches from our orchard winter pruning and woodland clearance, no green waste has left our site for landfill - this also cuts down on the number of bonfires required.
Also, the hedge is a perfect habitat for mammals and birds, as it gives them somewhere to shelter that is protected from the rain, wind and predators.
We already have bug houses on-site and we hope that some of the little bugs will find a new home in our dead hedge too. As the dead hedge rots away, beetles will munch away underneath and we’ll have a balanced eco-system where brambles will climb through over the top creating a live dead hedge!
The woodland and its surrounding area is a really a hive of activity, so come and enjoy this calming space in view of Elgar’s cottage all year round and explore the wonders of the outdoors.