Trimming the top of the leading shoot on a willow sapling.
A new hawthorn sapling safely in place.

With all that is going on at Blyth Road, we still haven’t forgotten our site at Wenhaston and the volunteer team meet on the first Wednesday of each month to keep things tidy on site, while generally enjoying a bit of fresh air! Now the bird nesting season is past, November is a good month for cutting back potentially dangerous dead wood and adding new planting. The willow saplings planted earlier this year by the youngsters at Holton Primary are now mostly hidden in the rampant annual growth around them – reeds, nettles and bindweed. However, at least half of them have taken really well, so much so that I did a spot of ‘nipping out’ of the tops in order to encourage growth further down next year. [NB I am 6′ 2″, so you can see just how much growth they have put on this season.] Many Trust members have donated substantial hawthorn and holly saplings, which are all coming along nicely after a period in my ‘tree creche’ at home. It has been possible to establish new areas where reasonably sized hedges will eventually provide good nesting sites for small birds. Some of the hawthorns were planted near the grounded van body, with the ultimate aim of providing a food source at this end of our land. Additionally, the blossom will be an uplifting sight in spring.

Oh dear – a puncture!
Ivy creeping over an original SR fence post!

Just past ‘the Oaks’ on the trackbed proper, the embankment has spread over time – although original SR fencing posts are still clinging on in a precarious fashion. The nearby hawthorns are not in a very good condition here, so adding more will help to bind the embankment together as well as enhancing the food menu for the wildlife. It’s important to provide food sources as well as nesting cover, and some extra foxglove plants have been strategically added along the trackbed. These should seed themselves within a few years, attracting even more insects to keep the birds happy. Our new mower (seen here in its bespoke accommodation!) managed to get a puncture down by the driftway crossing, so further clearance had to be abandonned. However, all was not lost as Dave was able to chop back some dead growth along the path with his trusty chainsaw instead.

New growth on holly stumps – with whippy growth on the left.

Towards the driftway there had been an area of whippy holly growth that required clearing a few years back. Some of these cleared stumps have now had a couple of seasons to recover and are making much stronger growth on the old stumps. When they get big enough they will start to flower and set berries, as well as becoming potential nesting sights and feeding stations. We added 7 new holly saplings nearby to bolster this idea, and then adjourned to one of John Barber’s splendid sausage and baked potato meals cooked al fresco. Divine!