Living Larders : Copses

So far we have added 6 new copses into our small farm landscape in the last couple of years, as well as filling in the planting thats developed over the last 30 years.

We will not be doing any big planting projects winter 2019- but very happy for volunteers to come and help us look after these areas as part of their essential management – mulching, weeding, underplanting as well planting some saplings to fill in gaps. There is a powerful push to plant trees – but it is as important to take care of these places for the first 5 years of their lives.

Our copses have a variety of make ups for different uses and to accommodate our variable land. We have significantly increased the number of species of trees and shrubs we have on our 24 acres.

Sycamore is now what the Woodland Trust offer in place of Ash for fuel timber planting, so we have several areas of this to support the self sufficiency for heating fuel in the future.
These have been planted in association with downy birch, hazel and scots pine, with a smattering of Wych elm, rowan, beech, elder along the front edges, and we are adding understoreys of buddliea, gorse, herbs and wild flowers ..

On our larger wetter copse there is also a good block planting of aspen alone with the sycamore and some silver birch .. this will look amazing in years to come. This area has 3 hedgerow lines to support the livestock in the adjoining paddocks, as well as internal paths which are lined with yet more fruit and nut species. Along the wet meadow fence there is a bulk planting of willow for cropping tree hay, with sea buckthorn on the other side of the path. The pond in this area will have basket willows beside it .. and has increasing variety of herb and flower species.

Our old “Duck Green” copse (part of the past poultry breeding display areas) is an oak and hazel area – future generations of pigs are going to adore this !! this has a meandering path through it where several rescued horse chestnuts will arise majestically .. hopefully to display their spring frothiness over the top of the barn to be seen from the kitchen window !

Tween copse is a small but lovely area between two paddocks, two mixed hedgerows along the fence, and filled in with alder and birch. The underplanting in here will be bulbs, bluebells, aquilegia, yarrow,
On the other side of the track is a large pond enclosed with a fence, that the Muscovies love, and is now bordered by aspen, alder and birch. There is plenty of space for a lot more herb and wild flowers to add to the ladys mantle, primulas, meadowsweet, aruncus, iris,

Along the north field is a more established planting hedge, which needs some management to crop the timber and bring more life into the lower areas, this has a lovely large and growing area of willowherb, as well as the laziest patch of blackthorn !! so few sloes for my gin !!

The past poultry park has been a mix of planting over the last 30 years that was softening the chicken breed pens.. sadly quite a number who had really thrived were ones that were under electricity lines and have recently been taken down by the Electricity board .. it broke my heart to see these lovely oaks, ash and beech come down, they were friends, part of my every day activities and their changing covers over the seasons part of my year. They will regrow, but will be coppice not tree.
The centre area of the park is becoming a food forest area – with growing numbers of fruit trees, bushes, guilds, perennial and annual food planting. There are still some poultry here, our pure utility Light Sussex pen is also developing into a Tree nursery pen, the turkeys have been clearing and fertilizing the old croft house area. This has a lot of ancient builders rubble frustrating the planting of more fruit bushes. We need to find out more about what is under the soils ! maybe we will let the young pigs explore this !!