The Diary of Stonecrop Wood
Updated 5 May 2001
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We took the "long" long-armed pruner and John cut some more regrowth from the conifer hedge in top half of the wood. John collected rubbish and I pruned a few things from around and above 2 Rowan trees beside the conifer hedge. I put the cuttings in east-side laurel hedge along with a couple of broken Maritime pine branches. In the huge beech stump near front of the wood covered in Bracket fungus is a brand new woodpecker hole facing into the wood. The fungus and ground was covered in sawdust! Watch this space! - I think I've noticed sawdust in the past. No dog-walkers while we were in the wood.
Our new "next door neighbour" has got rid of everything in his back garden but the holly tree (male)! We managed to salvage the 3 beeches which we had planted, when the house was empty for 8 years, along with other things in order to try and form a hedge. One beech had a damaged tap root. We also managed to salvage the little ash and oak trees. Planted the oak in our front garden and the rest were planted in the wood, the 3 beeches in the lower half of the wood in the "empty area" and the ash I planted in the upper half not far from "Ena's oak" in the area with the most light. Quite a few dog-walkers came in the wood while we were there. Piled beech leaves around the 3 beech trees.
Quick shufti to see if the 3 beeches were still where we planted them. They were! No regrowth on laurel stumps at front of the wood by the Gregsons' fence.
Quick look round the wood on way back from walk on Upton Heath and Beacon Hill - no connection between the two! All 4 trees planted recently still OK!
Quick round after visiting Mum. All trees planted that came from "next door" are all OK. Children playing in the wood and in next door's (Mr Jessop) laurel-choked wood but there were 3 parents waiting by the fence at the front!
All the recently planted trees appear OK. Small amount of regrowth on 1 of the laurel stumps at front of the wood by the Gregsons' fence. Large amount of rain fell overnight on Tuesday last and there has been a mud slide coming from the Gregsons' front garden through the gap between their fence and the laurel at the front and down the slope to the road. I went around top half of the wood pulling up laurel seedlings after picking up the leylandii cuttings that John had cut with the "long" long-armed pruner. I chucked them into east-side laurel hedge. That leylandii hedge is the hedge from hell! One buzzard above the wood.
Walked around the wood in the dark (about 9 pm) with John and Eleanor. 5 daffodils in flower and bracken coming up.
Quick walk round. No signs of laurel regrowth in bottom end of the wood by the Gregsons' fence. Cut away a lot of brambles in area. There are 3 little field maples in area and many little oaks and beeches. 2 of the 3 beech trees I planted in lower half of the wood that came from "next door" are fine but the 3rd and largest, which had its tap root broken when it was dug up, is dead. No sign of our planted acorns coming up! A section of fence at rear of the wood is showing signs of imminent collapse. Bracken well up now and a very quick prune of paths done by John and I. More attention needed here! One or two laurel seedlings pulled up. Bluebells in top half of the wood are fading. Not much rubbish found. My 2 little ash trees are growing very well. 2 or 3 possible oil-seed rape plants at bottom end of the wood and where I was cutting back brambles (escapees!).
The last time I heard from Sally Glass was August 1997. I wrote to her in the September but have not heard anything since. Since then I have written in January 1999 and 24 May 2001.
Letter arrived from Sally Glass to say she's "no longer the Woodland Officer for Dorset". New Woodland Officer is Valerie Staley, whom I will probably hear from in due course.
No regrowth of laurel at front of the wood. Looks like the stumps are dead! Much pruning of internal paths in top half of the wood. A small number of foxgloves at rear end of the wood are in flower! Much bird singing and green woodpecker calling! 1 female dog-walker did "the round".
Usual summer pruning round. John reckons there are chicks in the pine tree with the last year's greater spotted woodpecker hole. He heard faint noises coming from it. Also noticed there were some faeces (?fox) near the entrance of one of the more recent holes in the centre of the top half of the wood. Still no regrowth of laurel at bottom end of the wood by the Gregsons' fence. Lots of what looks like oil seed rape plants in area now! John collected some rubbish including bag with dog faeces! I pruned a couple of hollies which were "cramping the style" of 2 Rowans.
Much has grown since last visit but must say that I think all the laurel stumps at front of the wood by the Gregsons' fence are DEAD! Cut down to the ground 2 or 3 small beeches which were cramping the space for little oaks. Trimmed the faster growing sweet chestnut nearby. Cut brambles and bracken in top half paths. A dead Maritime pine had fallen taking another with it - that's what it looks like anyway. Apparently this happened about a week ago. It also appears that the Gregsons' gardener or somebody may have tried to poison the brambles growing up against their fence. Much cawing by wood-pigeons the whole time I was in the wood - many wood-pigeons! The 2 beeches we planted (that came from "next door") in large bare area in lower half of the wood now appear to be dying due to lack of rain. (The 3rd of this group died after planting as tap root had been damaged when man "next door" dug it up last winter.)
No sign of laurel regrowth by the Gregsons' fence near road. "Raised the skirts" of a few small trees and cleared brambles and bracken from even smaller trees. Pruning round of paths in top half of the wood. Heard great tit and usual wood-pigeons and squirrels squawking. All 3 beeches which were planted at the end of January are dead - no rain of any use for weeks! Somebody had pruned laurel and holly along road in front of and near the wood and had dumped prunings over the fence into the wood. I dumped the lot outside! Little oaks, ash trees and field maples doing well! My new very light lopper brilliant!
Approx. 300 acorns from the Major Oak, Sherwood forest scattered around wood in sunniest areas as far as it was possible. No more regrowth from laurel stumps at front of the wood by the Gregsons' fence for a long time now. Mr Gregson's gardener has pruned and shaped the laurel clump between the wood and the Gregsons' front garden. Unfortunately he had left the cuttings on the ground which I had to remove otherwise they will take root. Since their front garden has been block-paved there is a run-off of soil down through a channel into the wood. In top half of the wood there are 2 standing dead Maritime pines.
As a result of my letter to Valerie Staley a man telephoned me from the wood trying to find the 2 dead Maritime pines which he and his men were going to deal with! He eventually found both of them. John went round to the wood on Monday and said the only storm damage was a fallen small tree in "panhandle area", which was lying over Mrs Faulkner's fence. The 2 dead trees were still standing!
Went to the wood to see what work was done yesterday. None as far as I can see! The big old remains of a beech tree in bottom half of the wood, which broke in half in the big storm of October 1987 or it might have been January 1990 - I cannot remember, has a bit more of it partially broken off. I believe the man who phoned yesterday mentioned this. There is a fair-sized branch of a Maritime pine in bottom half of the wood but I cannot see how it got there as there is no Maritime pine in the area - Actually there is at 2nd glance!
Quick round before it got too dark to see! Moved the now 3 fallen branches from the Maritime pine in bottom half of the wood into the east-side laurel hedge. In top half of the wood there are a few branches off the odd Scots and Maritime pines. Picked them up and put them in the east-side laurel hedge until I couldn't see any more! A dead tree trunk had broken in half, probably a Maritime pine and the broken bit lay between the 2 main branches of a ?small beech tree. The ivy-covered Scots pine near the Gregsons' rear fence and Mrs Faulkner's fence has 2 large branches hanging down from it - one covered in ivy. Saw 1 female dog-walker (golden retriever). 1 slender Maritime pine in top half of the wood is leaning somewhat but I think this isn't recent.
The broken-in-half huge beech tree trunk near front of the wood which I thought was mostly dead has one remaining live branch which appears to have either a plant parasite growing at the top or an old birds' nest. The 2nd branch is attached to the broken bit at the trunk and is lying over the land belonging to "Roman Heights". The broken branches hanging down from the ivy-covered Scots pine by the Gregsons' rear fence have dead pine needles on them so they must have broken some time ago and I hadn't noticed them before my last visit to the wood. It now appears also that there are 2 fallen slender pines in top half of the wood, 1 Scots and the other a Maritime. Last time I visited the wood there wasn't much light!
The little oak tree by the holly by the top fence, which was unfortunately partly blocking the footpath has had the 2 main branches broken by somebody who was too lazy to walk around it! I have managed to prune it with my small secateurs but it'll need attention by a saw or large secateurs. Good prune, also, of the nearby holly and now there's a bit more light and space to both the vandalised oak and nearby silver birch. John got dog faeces on one shoe which ended up on carpet of our "long room"! A number of dog-walkers in the wood. I nearly got dog faeces on my rucksac. Forgot to mention last time that the small fallen tree lying over Mrs Faulkner's fence has been removed! Heard green woodpecker.
The contractors have at last done some work in the wood. The dead Maritime pine and the remains of a Maritime pine have been cut down and the broken branches of the Scots pine (ivy-covered) behind the Gregsons' back garden have also been cut down. I did a bit more tidying-up of the damaged little oak tree at rear of the wood as I had my saw. Also cut a bit more of the holly behind it. Used garden rake to haul down branches. Raked dumped leaves at front of the wood by the Gregsons' fence down the slope.
John nailed 3 of our 6 anti-dog-faeces notices at front of the wood, 2 to beech trees and one to wooden stake at entrance by the Gregsons' front garden. We now have a notice at either end and one near to the wooden gate in the middle. Will they remain this time, I ask myself! Pruned holly under the 2 beech trees where the notices have been attached so it wouldn't mask them in the near future. The dog notices had arrived from the Woodland Trust head office this am as a result of my last letter to Valerie Staley. (The "nails" used were small clouts). The dead Maritime pine was about 40 years old.
John and I went for walk after dark to the wood. The 3 dog notices were still in-situ! Just walked around the wood with torches.
Walked past the wood as it was getting dark. The dog signs were still in-situ.
Dog signs still in-situ. I started to move fallen or cut pine branches. Had to saw some into smaller units so I could drag them into the east-side laurel hedge. Other cut foliage and branches below the wind blasted Scots pine with the ivy growing up it I placed in a pile in the hollow in the "panhandle" beside Mrs Faulkner's fence - what I could move with not too much difficulty that is!
John pruned about half of the Leylandii hedge in top half of the wood with "long" long-armed pruner. I collected up the bits and deposited them in the east-side laurel hedge along with broken branches from Scots and Maritime pine trees which had fallen since my last visit! There is one very large branch that has broken off from a Scots pine at top end of the wood and is lodged foliage on the ground and broken end lying against the tree from which it was once attached. It appears fairly secure. We managed to break off a few rotten laurel stumps in lower end of the wood. Maybe 2 woodpeckers (greater spotted) were drumming high up in the trees. Then again it might have been only one moving about. I saw a wild rabbit at top end of the wood. John did a rubbish round and I pruned brambles along paths in top half of the wood. 2 dog-walkers came to the wood.
Continued where we left off yesterday with pruning the leylandii hedge until we got to the end. Also pruned the holly looming above the damaged little oak in top end of the wood. This time we took both the "long" long-armed pruner and the shorter one. I continued to put the conifer cuttings in the east-side laurel hedge.
Continued pruning the conifer hedge but this time we cut down a lot of brambles growing through and over the hedge. We are making a path between the brambles and hedge so it will be easier to prune the hedge in future. 2 dog-walkers, one a young girl with Alsatian disappeared through "gate" into one of the gardens at the back of the wood ("new" houses). Well, I think that is where she must have gone. When we were leaving the wood 2 women (?mother and daughter) came in without dogs! The younger woman had a mobile phone and some paper-work in her hand. Funny! Heard green woodpecker nearby.
Continued pruning the conifer hedge and brambles nearby. I used our garden rake to rake the cut brambles into 3 separate piles on the other side of our perimeter footpath. This was hard work! Put the cut conifer bits in east-side laurel hedge. Managed to complete the job so we've now got a clear area on "our" side of the conifer hedge, which will have to be kept clear in future so we can prune the conifers easily! 2 dog-walkers again. There is a deep hole in top half of the wood that I don't remember seeing before. ?Fox hole.
Walked around the wood during our walk to "viewpoint" on Upton Heath. The landfill site has a system of steam vents attached to thin tube on north side of the hole. This was attached to the rough fence. Is this to stop the awful pong wafting over the houses to the north and north-east of the site? All OK in the wood. Foot and Mouth disease is in a few parts of England.
Foot and Mouth disease in England, Wales, Scotland, N.Ireland and Cornwall! Out of bounds at the moment are: Upton Heath, Roman Road, Ashington Cutting, Upton Country Park, Castleman Trailway and lots of other places in our area. The Dorset Coast path is also closed.
We took the 2 long-armed pruners, 2 loppers, my saw, secateurs, kneeler and trug in order to prune the east-side laurel hedge. Started at top end and worked downwards. I did a bit of pruning with my loppers but it is very wearying work as they are heavy! I used the saw mostly. The rest of the time I put the cuttings as best as I could behind the boundary line. We've roughly done about half the length of the hedge but more clearing up is needed. We must take, next time, the large saw and some nylon string as well as the other gear. Since the last time of our cutting this hedge (so called) the growth has really spread into the wood - which you don't really notice over time! A fair number of dog-walkers because they couldn't go on Upton Heath.
Heard great spotted woodpecker drumming! Carried on what we were doing yesterday. More or less completed the whole laurel hedge pruning and tucking the cut bits into the laurel hedge. A number of dog-walkers came to the wood but one man came in the wood without a dog! Great tits singing today and yesterday.
Carried on where we left off yesterday. 2 lots of dog-walkers only. I mostly worked on the lower half of the east-side laurel hedge. Now it is finished - until the next time! I also re-shaped the damaged little oak tree at the back of the wood under the holly.
Quick walk to the wood before dark. We noticed that the many times broken old beech tree in lower east end of the wood has a bright orange blob of paint on it. Also a blob each on a deciduous tree and a Maritime pine side-by-side in middle of the wood. The Maritime was leaning against the smaller deciduous tree (?oak). We hadn't noticed these blobs before.
Had a phone call from Valerie Staley this afternoon as a result of my letter to her regarding the Foot and Mouth Crisis and the closing of the Woodland Trust properties in England and Wales. Similar restrictions are in Scotland and N Ireland. She said that 3 woods in Dorset are still open because they are suburban and that Stonecrop is one of them!
Quick walk to the wood. Noticed that there was another tree with an orange blob on it. This is the multi-stemmed mature beech in lower half of the wood which is near the Holm oak. There is a small amount of grit which has probably been dropped over the fence, near the front of the wood, by Mr Gregson or his gardener. Rowan tree leaves starting to open.
Found another tree with an orange blob on it, a Maritime pine near the other one in the centre of the wood - just behind the Gregsons' rear fence. John did his rubbish round and I pruned some brambles. The growing bracken isn't a problem yet. One or two Rowans have fully open leaves. Leaves opening on the little field maples. I sawed off bits of branches which were hanging down to the ground on a sweet chestnut beside Mrs Faulkner's fence. John found a child's plastic boomerang at rear end of the wood. He showed it to me and then on my instigation he threw it but it did not come back! Instead it landed in Mr Jessop's garden! My clump of daffodils has 2 bulbs in flower but many have very spindly leaves.
Quick round. John did his usual rubbish collection round. Last time I laid some "foliage" bits of pine trees at the entrance of a substantial-looking fox-hole in centre of upper half of the wood. Today I noticed the bits had not been moved at all so it looks that the hole is unused! I cut the previously cut down brambles, alongside Mrs Faulkner's fence, down to the ground - well, many of them anyway until it was necessary for us to go home. 2 dog-walkers came in the wood.
Quick walk around the wood with Dave Hawkins and John. A very quick prune of regrowth on brambles by Mrs Faulkner's fence. Found that the little damaged oak at the rear of the wood has been vandalised yet again. Cut out the damaged stem. Now it will only grow as a bush from now on.
Dave, John and I went to the wood to meet David Anderson and his Brazilian wife. Unfortunately she trod in dog faeces in the wood! David is the Webmaster for the Broadstone web-site. He took loads of digital photographs which John later acquired "over the wires" on his computer!
Some way in from the front fence in line with the main gate was a dustbin-liner full of empty alcohol bottles and drinks cans as well as uneaten remains of junk food, paper napkins etc! We took it all home for recycling and/or disposal.
Today the Stonecrop Wood Website went on-line for the first time. It has taken a lot of work, typing about 45,000 words and getting everything formatted and encoded. The site is being hosted by my Genealogy website. A website for a wood is a new venture for us. Will it be a failure, attracting no interest at all? Or perhaps it will be too much of a success, attracting too many visitors to the wood, turning the paths into worn out, rubbish strewn "Pennine Ways"? My hopes are that it will be easier for the Woodland Trust Officers to monitor what is happening in one of their smallest woods; for those on foreign shores to see the problems of an English suburban wood; and for those living within walking distance to discover this little gem for the first time.
A fine Spring day. Visited wood by myself, picked up a few bits of rubbish: cigarette packet, sweet packets, kleenex, car knob, bike knob, mysterious bit of plastic, bits of fluffy wool. These have been dropped since my last visit, I leave the wood spotless each time. Why don't people take their rubbish home? Imagine if no-one cleaned the wood for years. It would become a dump.
Saw a small fast creature run into Mrs Faulkner's, couldn't identify. Most of the beech leaves have sprouted, the lower wood looks light green Two more burrows I haven't noticed before. Bracken growing profusely in upper wood. One dog-walker.
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