• Inspired to pollard

    After watching Dave Smith at work on that huge old ash pollard a couple of weeks back I was inspired to have a go at an ash we have at the bottom of the garden.

    When we first came to the house 25 years ago there was a 6' ash sapling growing through the top of an old roll of barbed wire. I liberated it and it thrived, developing into a fair sized tree, perhaps 35-40' high, but with two main leaders. For years I watched rather than acting, mainly because I couldn't decide which leader to cut off since they were both growing at about the same rate. The bigger it grew the more I became convinced that eventually, on some particularly stormy night (rather like those we are currently experiencing), there would be an almighty crack and the two halves would split apart. Time to act.

    Unlike Dave, who has the benefit of chain saws, I set about my ash tree with a simple hand saw (being a new one and exceedingly sharp certainly helped). Carefully notching and then back sawing so the boughs would fall where I wanted was quite satisfying... I even managed to avoid smashing the bird box.

    Jan photographed me severing the last bough & as the light was good this morning I went down to photograph the finished article. Quite pleased with the result, and there's even a bit of new growth from last year (I cut a couple of small boughs off last year) which will help to sustain it into its new cycle. Lots of lovely firewood & even a couple of logs that may be big enough to do something with. Mind you a massive pile of brash to sort out too....or endless kindling wood.

    Was delighted to find some beautiful colonies of lichens on the tree, and a little saddened to signal their demise. Still, there are plenty more on the pollard. Fascinated to see how it regenerates.

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  • Moooooody

    A late afternoon perambulation on the Common with my lovely woman & as we crested the hill we were greeted with this stunningly beautiful vista. Seemed a bit low for cloud inversion so assume it is simply mist sitting in the hollows. It's been just about the coldest day we've had so far this winter - down to -6 or 7C. I can cope with any amount of this weather - far better than endless days of grey claggy cloud and flat dreary light.

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  • Mistletoe explosion

    Out the other day & spotted this hybrid black poplar near Fownhope with one of the heaviest loads of mistletoe I think I've ever seen in all the time we've been here. Surely this poses potential problems for the tree. So much mistletoe will surely be draining the life and certainly the water intake of this tree and, in the process, perhaps killing some of the boughs. Then there will be issues of branches failing under the sheer weight of the stuff & that's not good right next to a busy road. Worst case scenario - with the wind sail effect of all those bundles and a high wind - over goes the whole tree.

    With the massive cutbacks in roadside maintenance from local authorities starved of funds are we just waiting for an inevitable disaster?

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  • Repollarding an ash pollard

    Out at Underley, a farm between Bromyard and Tenbury, yesterday to meet up with Dave Smith - expert tree surgeon - who kindly alerted me to the fact that he was working on some old ash pollards on the farm. We decided that this outgrown pollard on an old hedge line would make an interesting subject to photograph through the process. The tree is probably around 200 years old and we discovered once the main outgrown boughs had been cut that it has been about 70 years since it was last pollarded. The danger with such trees is that eventually the cantilever effect from such massive outgrown boughs connected with potential rot in the crown of the original pollard, due to water and collected detritus, will cause the whole tree to rent itself apart. Fortunately Dave has been able to work on the tree before this happened.

    Difficult weather conditions gave me very variable light, and my toes nearly froze off as there was a fair bit of standing around between each main bough cut. It's a delicate operation for Dave as he has to consider how many sections it will take to reduce each branch, make sure he doesn't damage any of the growing points that he wants to leave to encourage the tree to rally this spring, and also work out where each lump of wood is going to land. The above ground part of the root system was quite extensive and that certainly didn't need damaging. All that and he's got to keep a steady eye on all his ropework and working at very close quarters with a chain saw 30-40 feet up in the air.

    Finished pollard looked great and should keep the tree going for a long time to come. It'll be interesting to know what it will look like in another 70 years - Chalara ash dieback willing.

    Many thanks to Dave and to Jim Farrant for his kind help and permission to photograph.

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  • After days of downpours and gales

    After days of downpours and gales and waking every morning to look out on an endlessly grey world we suddenly had a brief window of sunlight sweep in from the west this afternoon.

    A quick dash to Bringsty Common. Because the ground is so totally and utterly saturated every grassy path was like walking down a stream. The pups didn't care - just glad to let off steam.

    One of my favourite silver birches looked stunning, backed by this spectacular sky, but you can see the next round of storms brewing on the skyline.

    Beat the rain back home by ten minutes.

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Archie Miles photography

Archie's Blog

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