The Diary of Stonecrop Wood
1988-1991 part

Updated 3 May 2001

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  1. 16 January 1988
    Did round of the wood and then I helped John with cutting the east-side laurel hedge. I spent time tidying up the "cuttings" that John left lying around. I was stuffing them into the hedge when John encountered the owner of "Roman Heights". Talk about "whingin' Poms"! He thought we were removing the whole laurel hedge! Threw a real "wobbly" he did! He finally went away and we continued. A robin danced and sang continually around us while we were there working.

  2. 17 January 1988
    We completed cutting the east side laurel hedge. 2 robins danced around us and sang "sotto voce". They also fought briefly. There are quite a lot of laurel seedlings growing in the top centre part of the wood and one fairly big one at the back of the Gregsons' down the "Panhandle" path.

  3. 24 January 1988
    We started pulling up seedlings and older new laurel plants from the bramble infested top centre part of the wood. Cut down a larger plant down the "Panhandle" track near the back of the Gregsons'. Have put most of the results of our efforts in the east side laurel hedge. Tame robin bobbin' around me again!

  4. 31 January 1988
    Great tit singing away! We pulled up nearly all the laurel seedlings in the top end of the wood. Also tidied up some of the rhododendrons where they were straddling the footpath and straightened them in an area near the east-side path.

  5. 28 February 1988
    I did a quick round of the wood. The daffodils look pretty sickly now, those that are still showing up of course! No sign of the snowdrops at all.

  6. 12 March 1988
    Did round of the wood with John. Nothing much growing yet. Snowdrop leaves are showing in both patches but are mostly spindly, especially those that did not flower last year. No flowers at all this year. Spindly leaves on daffodils.

  7. 1 April 1988
    Signs of more people walking dogs as the paths are becoming well worn. Something is also eating the leaves of daffodils and bluebells (not my bluebells - those in the top half of the wood along the "panhandle"). Heard green woodpecker and saw one of our usual robins in its usual place! One of the trees that the large sweet chestnut fell against is showing signs of "heaving". Pulled up a few laurel seedlings. Bracken starting to appear.
    Houses on "Pine Glade" site still going up.

  8. 4 April 1988
    Showed Dave Hawkins around the wood. Saw robins in their usual area.

  9. 21 April 1988
    Heard 2 green woodpeckers and usual robins. Pulled up some laurel re-growth around stumps at bottom end of the wood. Did quick pruning round in top half of the wood. 6 of my little oaks appear to be still alive and buds are beginning to open. There are signs of new beech seedlings as well as last year's seedlings.
    Houses are still going up in "Pine Glade" and the "rural" look of Stonecrop Wood has been destroyed because houses near the wood are really noticeable now.

  10. 7 May 1988
    Quick round. Pulled up a few bracken on paths. Pulled up a few laurel suckers in bottom half and also re-growth on stumps. Mr D.C. Faulkner (or his gardener) had apparently chucked some branches and rubbish onto the "panhandle" so I slung 'em back again! The Woodland Trust have finally sawn up the fallen sweet chestnut and the damaged trees in its wake. A couple of pines appear to have been cut down. 7 of my planted oaks appear OK.

  11. 8 May 1988
    Quick round with John. Mr D.C. Faulkner has chucked the stuff I threw over his side back again - but off the path! If he was not responsible for dumping it - then who was, I wonder?

  12. 21 May 1988
    John tried to fix the top end fence by stapling to old fence posts found in the wood; 3 of these posts leaning against pine trees - because pine trees not suitable for sticking staples in. Many trees, mostly large ones, have metal number tags starting at 189 at the front end of the wood by the Gregsons' and ending at the other corner at the bottom end with number 318. One of the rhododendrons in top half of the wood is in flower - looks pretty but it is a weed!
    I heard and saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker - he was about 3 feet off the ground drumming up a tree in top half of the wood. Somebody has put weedkiller on the laurel outside the front of the wood. I cut back the bits inside the wood at the fence as they had also been sprayed. I also did my usual spring/summer top half path clearing of bracken and bramble.
    The 2 little oaks at the front end by the Gregsons' look sick because their leaves, although green, are small and shrivelled up. I did not notice the others but I believe those further in the wood are OK but this problem seems to attack the little oaks down at the front by the fence.

  13. 8 June 1988
    The trees in the back gardens of the 2 new houses nearest the back of the wood have mostly been removed with exception of a few large pines and silver birch trees. The ground cover has all been cleared.
    We cleared bracken & bramble from the usual paths - one or two bits of rhododendron too. Heard green woodpecker. There are 8 of my planted oaks still present. The 3 in the interior of the lower half of the wood are fine. One at front in middle appears dead. The others near the front look poor because the leaves are shrivelled up - although mostly green. One further in is not so bad - it is just slightly shrivelled. Is this caused by spraying the laurel outside the front of the wood with weedkiller which has blown into the wood? The laurel there is now quite yellow.

  14. 18 June 1988
    Not too much growing since last time. Cut a few bits of bracken and brambles on paths. Pulled up a few bits of regrowth of laurel in lower part of the wood. Ivy appears to be showing signs of covering the empty ground which was originally covered in laurel.
    Our usual path to the wood from Springdale Road is apparently private to the residents in existing houses on the left (by Springdale Crescent) and a man (? the horse owner) asked us to refrain from using it.
    There are lots of laurel seedlings growing in the top half of the wood where we cut back the laurel hedge by the hysterical fellow's property!

  15. 4 July 1988
    Mr D.C. Faulkner says he has about 45 bats (?Pipistrelles) in his ?loft. Did our usual path clearing rounds. I pulled up laurel suckers in bottom end of the wood. John and I "restructured" the rear fence with pine logs cut down on building site when "they" cleared the back gardens of the 2 houses nearest the wood. We laid the logs along boundary and John hammered a few "stakes" along the line too. These "stakes" were taken from bits of wood left by the carpenters.

  16. 6 July 1988
    Continued where I left off on Monday. I think somebody has tried to plant an oak seedling/sapling in centre of lower half of the wood. I have placed some stones around it to hold it in the ground because without a trowel it ain't possible to dig a large enough hole. As I left the wood I saw a strange little animal cross the road (Corfe Lodge Road) above the Gregsons' place. Looked like a miniature dachshund with not much tail.

  17. 14 July 1988
    We collected some rubbish in 2 dustbin liners. Did usual clearing of paths at top half of the wood and pulled up a few laurel suckers at bottom end. The mysteriously planted little oak tree had had the stones that I placed round it displaced so I replaced them. Perhaps the person who planted it did not approve. Heard green woodpecker and 1 robin. I finally removed the quantities of black polythene near "Roman Heights", which may have been put there by kids making their "den".

  18. 24 July 1988
    Quick round of keeping paths clear of bracken & brambles. Pulled a few regrowth of laurel & laurel seedlings. Heard green woodpecker once.

  19. 9 August 1988
    Usual round of the wood. Heard and saw a green woodpecker (?two). A pine tree has broken and is leaning against a sweet chestnut in top half of the wood nearest centre. Signs of ?people making path at back of the Gregsons'. Children's ?"den" near the Gregsons' garden shed.
    Builders have started putting the fences up in the garden nearest the wood and have cleared the ground of rubble. Practically all the trees in the garden behind the wood have been damaged by machinery.

  20. 19 August 1988
    Quick round of the wood. Usual pulling of regrowth of laurel and clearing of paths. Heard green woodpecker. Nearly all the fencing at back of the wood has been put up by the builders, except for a few yards nearest the house behind the wood. They have placed it about a foot behind our rehashed fence.

  21. 21 August 1988
    Quick round again with John. No change.
    After a loud report I saw Mr Faulkner looking up into one of his high pine trees and carrying a 0.22 rifle! A second shot later. Has he a licence? Seems bloody dangerous, if I was a neighbour I would complain. Most of the big pine trees in the garden of the new "Yuppie" house behind the wood have big chunks taken out of their thick bark at chest height by the earth moving equipment that cleared the back garden of building rubble. Irreparable damage, what a waste.

  22. 17 September 1988
    The Woodland Trust contractors have cut down a few pines (5 - 2 at top, 2 at "neck", 1 small between) in lower and top end of the wood; also have half cut down 1 large beech which was overhanging the Gregsons' property at front. The 2 large pines at the "neck" of the wood were about 70 years old (ring count). A couple of pines up at top end of the wood, overhanging the new houses at back have also been cut down. The foliage has been dumped around the top end of the wood and along the side where we "threaded" cut laurel into the hedge (east side) some time ago.
    Some rubbish from cutting the beech tree was dumped by the contractors at the front by the Gregsons'. We tidied up and and took some laurel cuttings to the east-side laurel hedge. These had been removed and/or broken when the beech was being chopped. I pulled up regrowth of cut laurel in lower end of the wood and we did our usual pruning round of top half paths. The fence at top is now complete and there is no apparent gate into the wood.
    We managed to save 1 of the little oaks that I planted at the front by the Gregsons', that had been covered by the tree cutting debris. Some of the other little oaks have had protective plastic "coats" put on them. Collected bits of rubbish spread around, mainly plastic

  23. 25 September 1988
    Quick round, nothing much to prune or pull up due to little growth and we were here last week. Cut down quite a few laurel sprouts along east hedge. Several beech seedlings growing at various points

  24. 15 October 1988
    Very quick round before dusk. The Woodland Trust contractors have cut down more trees, including the trunk of beech that had been cut near the Gregsons'. Also the pine with our notice has gone and other pines nearby at top end. The logs in the centre of the wood have been placed into small piles. Some birds (?Jays) were squawking loudly at magpies, I think.

  25. 5 November 1988
    Quick round, no work, all OK!

  26. 12 November 1988
    Not much laurel regrowth on the cut stumps around lower end of the wood. Maybe some stumps are dying! Took some photos of the top and bottom half of the wood. Did quick round of top half. All OK. Pulled up a few laurel regrowth at lower end of the wood and along east side (lower end).

  27. 10 December 1988
    Not much laurel cutting or pulling required. It appears that some of the stumps might be dying. I moved some cut laurel at the top half (cut by ?Woodland Trust contract workers when they did some tree felling last month or so back) to the piles we cut along the east side laurel hedge. There is regrowth on the uprooted stump of the big sweet chestnut tree. Not many holly berries this year.
    I counted the rings on one of the large pine trees at the "neck" of the wood felled by the Woodland Trust. There were 63, meaning they were planted around 1925. The "Yuppie" at the top of the wood was digging his garden, he's now in his £250,000 house (19 years of my salary and 1.25 million Mars bars).

  28. 25 December 1988
    Holly and brolly! Very warm (13°C) but drizzling. Walked to the wood with rucksack, kneelers and fork to lift some holly seedlings to put in the beech hedge we are planting in our front garden. Met a couple and 2 kids in the wood, the wife was brought up in Stonecrop House and used to play in the 3½ acre garden, part of which is now the wood. When they had gone we dug up 7 holly seedlings and hurried home, feeling a bit guilty!
    I think the lady who donated Stonecrop Wood to Woodland Trust was the woman's mother.
  29. 9 January 1989
    Went looking for more holly seedlings but only found one suitable specimen. Pulled up a few laurel seedlings, not a lot, not a lot!

  30. 21 January 1989
    Quick round, pulled up a few laurel seedlings and cut a few laurel regrowth. Brought back one holly seedling - tatty looking. No sign of any of my bulbs.

  31. 11 February 1989
    Trimmed the lower half laurel hedge on east side of the wood. Cut or pulled new growth laurel stumps in lower end. The stumps appear to be slowly dying, at long last. Did quick round of top end. My daffodil bulbs are beginning to appear.
    Mr Faulkner is doing some earth moving with a mini JCB. The "Yuppie" at the top of the wood is now ready to start grassing his rear lawn. Lots of beech leaf mould around, and the cut bracken has bedded down on the paths. Pulled up 3 tiny hollies by mistake thinking they were laurel seedlings! Rosie planted them in our front garden. We cycled to the wood this time, its much better.

  32. 18 February 1989
    Sprinkled the free packet of foxglove seeds, mixed with silver sand for easy spreading, by the Gregsons' above the grassy area in deciduous half of the wood. Covered the area with dumped beech leaves (probably from the Gregsons'). I then carted dumped pine branches into the laurel hedge on the east side.

  33. 19 February 1989
    Cut back the laurel hedge alongside the Gregsons' to stop it spreading into the wood. Pulled up any regrowth inside the wood. Then I carted dumped pine branches into the laurel hedge on the east side, in the top half of the wood and John did his bit too! Whatyamean!!. We were joined by a robin in the top half.
    Mr Jessop looked through his laurel hedge and said "Who are you?". "We are the wardens of this wood, Sir". "Oh, all right". I collected 2 refuse bags full of rubbish and we took it to the dump. I waded through a sea of briars to find laurel where no human foot had trod before, fully expecting to find a body under the bushes. We met a man and his daughter who had been living near Stonecrop for 12 months and liked walking his 2 terriers here. He told me he'd found "a couple of laurel plants that someone had pulled up but I planted them again". I nearly throttled him! The leaves on the slope of the lower part of the wood are very attractive. Found and removed one laurel "tree" behind Mr Gregson's shed that we missed last year.

  34. 19 March 1989
    Quick round - pulled up a few laurel regrowth - collected rubbish - not a lot, not a lot! Trimmed brambles on top half path. Somebody, I can't remember who, has planted some snowdrops "in the green" in an area where I had planted some daffodils. They are in and above the mossy bank near Mr Gregson's property. Hope they survive better than my snowdrops that were vandalised. Noticed one new bracken shoot! Heard a bluetit or two.
    Mr D.C. Faulkner appears to be starting to build a small house on the western boundary of the upper wood. Someone has been hacking with a stick, they've broken a small holly by the fox's lair and one of the hard tree growths in the south-east corner. The "Yuppie" at the top of the wood still hasn't got his garden going.
    3½ of my little oaks appear to be alive and 1 which was planted by a person unknown. I had had to put a lot of stones around roots, due to it not being planted deep enough, in order to hold it down!

  35. 7 April 1989
    Quick round. Pulled up regrowth of laurel in stumps at lower end. Birds singing. Great tit (1), bluetits and green woodpecker. Picked a few new bracken shoots around path in top half. Not much regrowth of brambles as yet.
    Only found a few bits of glass, iron & plastic to pick up. The wood is now pretty clean. "Yuppie" at the top of the wood has just seeded his new lawn.

  36. 1 May 1989
    Found a bit more rubbish, pulled up some laurel seedlings. Collected and took home some holly and some deciduous seedlings. Mr Faulkner hasn't progressed with his building. The "Yuppie's" lawn is sprouting at the top of the wood. As we arrived, a couple were leaving with bags full of twigs. The red-haired man came back and asked our permission.
    Cut new growth from laurel stumps - quite a few stumps are looking quite dead now. Pruned usual regrowth of bramble and bracken from top half paths. Saw evidence of a horse in lower half of the wood. Adds some good organic fertiliser to soil. Some of my little oaks appear dead. Fallen sweet chestnut is still showing signs of life with shoots growing out of cut end.

  37. 20 May 1989
    Cut bracken and brambles in top half and pulled regrowth of laurel at bottom end of the wood. Floor very dry due to dried up fallen leaves and no proper rain for ages. Lots of "mossies", especially in the darker areas at lower end. I was bitten to bits! Many of my little oak trees have died. There are quite a lot of oak seedlings in the top half of the wood. These are not the result of acorns that I had sprinkled around 2 years ago - those I had sprinkled at bottom half of the wood only.

  38. 3 June 1989
    Cut regrowth of laurel in bottom half of the wood and cut brambles and bracken in top half. Much growing being done at present with top half looking very "Dr. Livingstone I presume-ish"!
    The lawn of the "Yuppie" at the top end of the wood has now grown and looks very fine. Picked up a little bit more rubbish in the wood - its now difficult to find any. The rhododendrons have grown high and so have the bracken. Trimmed the laurel hedge all along the east side. Apparently no more progress with Mr Faulkner's building.
    You can say that again! I reckon Mr Faulkner owns another house somewhere along the "Naked Cross Nurseries Road" (Waterloo Road - Knoll Lane -Rushall Lane etc.).

  39. 17 June 1989
    Much the same as last time.
    Little rubbish to collect. The bracken has shot up in the last two weeks. It looks like a green jungle now. "Yuppie's" lawn now emerald green and he has a small fountain working. Mr Faulkner has now erected a steel skeleton of a barn-like building. A note on the car rear screen asked us not to park too close to the drive. Lots of tree seedlings around, good sign
    Loadsa "mossies"!

  40. 30 June 1989
    Much the same as last time. Bracken as high as an elephant's eye. "Mossies" and black flies buzzing around. (Mr Faulkner lives in the house called "Stonecrop")

  41. 17 July 1989
    Usual round. Heard green woodpecker! Not so much growing this time - maybe its the lack of rain.

  42. 1 August 1989
    Usual summer round. Everything dry. Rhododendrons hanging! Cut bracken and laid it on path alongside rear fence because path is narrow in places since the fence was put up. (Last time put cut bracken on narrow bit of path by Mr Faulkner's.)
    Little rubbish. "Yuppie" at the top of the wood is sprinkling his new lawn in these drought conditions. Mr Faulkner's building has reached about 5ft. We cycled down here. Some of the bracken a lot taller than me.
    Oak seedlings growing in bottom half as well as top half. Maybe those in lower half are the result of my acorns scattering! Rowan tree in middle of the wood has many berries - not quite ripened.

  43. 15 August 1989
    Usual summer round. It has finally rained and rhodos have recovered. Little oaks sprouting all over the place. Heard a green woodpecker briefly! Very little growing now. Lots of blackberries in the lighter parts of the wood.
    Little rubbish, Mr Faulkner's building is now about 10 ft high. There are some well worn paths into the wood from each end of front fence and a third under the fence.

  44. 20 September 1989
    Quick round. Very little growing now. Quite a lot of blackberries up by the "Yuppie" houses (past it now - blackberries that is!). There is a bit more light since the pines made way for the houses. Saw a couple of ?coaltits in top end of the wood.
    Since we were here last, the "Yuppie" at the top of the wood has thrown a lot of garden rubbish over the fence. Its all bio-degradeable, but its the precedent that matters. We later drove to his house in Wickham Road. There seemed no-one in but I banged the large knocker, and a tall, thin, rather hairless man in his early 40s appeared. He admitted to the dumping, but said that there was no room in his garden for a compost heap. I said that we were trying to keep Stonecrop Wood "ecologically pure". Just in case of repetition, we have left small branches on the pile of rubbish to betray additions. I think we should also re-erect the old "No Dumping" sign which is still around somewhere. Mr Faulkner's building now has roof beams erected. Very little litter or bramble growth.

  45. 8 October 1989
    Usual "summer" round. Nothing growing much now. No more rubbish at top end. Grass is growing at top end since there is more light now the pines have gone. Trimmed laurel "hedge" by Mr Gregson's.
    Met Mr Faulkner by his fence. His building is near completion. He says its a "shed" or garage for 4 cars. He says the "Yuppies" are cutting down all their remaining pines in "Pine Glade". He wants the "depression" in the dead-end path ("panhandle") raised to the same level as his side of the fence. He says he originally mentioned this to the Woodland Trust. The "Yuppie" at the top of the wood has thrown over no more rubbish since last time, so I did not erect the "No Dumping" notice. Practically no rubbish to collect.

  46. 22 October 1989
    Quick round. It has rained quite a lot since Friday, out-raining all previous rain since end of May - or thereabouts!
    Mr Faulkner has started tiling his new out-building. Practically no rubbish. The very high wind of 20 October 1989 has blown lots of branches, leaves, twigs and sweet chestnuts down onto the paths and open areas, making the wood look attractive.

  47. 19 November 1989
    Quick round. At the bottom (south) end of the wood an old oak has snapped and fallen over and is resting against another tree. The trunk looks quite rotten inside although some life was still in the tree this year. Elderly fellow mowing his lawn on a "sit-me-down"-type lawnmower in large garden at top end of the wood where the 2 dogs live and from where the garden rubbish had been tipped after the big storm in October 1987. I had chucked the lot back over his fence and no more has appeared since! No more rubbish has been tipped by the "Yuppie" in the new house at the top end of the wood either. There are still some leaves on some trees although these are mostly yellow.

  48. 2 December 1989
    Quick round. John collected rubbish and I cut away rhododendrons growing around 2 or 3 little oak trees in upper half of the wood. Received letter of acknowledgement from Colin Buttery regarding fallen old oak tree.
    Mr Faulkner has now finished his new outbuilding, tiled and pebble-dashed. Looks like a large garage and matches the house. At point X (see map - upper half of the wood, nearer to the east laurel hedge), I found a large reel of plastic, some wire and a cardboard container on the edge of a flattened area. No idea what it is. There are also quite a few laurel seedlings developing, need to spend a few hours in the middle of the day getting rid of these! Mr Gregson (or his gardener) has chucked a whole lot of sweet chestnut leaves over his fence near his garage. No problem, they are only noticeable because they are among beech leaves!

  49. 9 December 1989
    Quick round - John heard a ?Great Spotted Woodpecker once. Odd prune here and there.
    One crisp packet to pick up. Pruned a bit of laurel along the eastern hedge. On way here, talked to the man who bought "Corfe Barn" two years ago. He showed us round the garden. The house was the barn of the farmhouse (over the road) 250 years ago. The old stables have been turned into a lovely long garage. There is a really old wall round the garden (beyond which are horrible modern bungalows!). He was proud of the place, although he said his small pond had a leak.

  50. 25 December 1989
    Quick look around the wood while on morning jog down Roman Road. The fallen oak tree had fallen some more and had broken a small beech tree.
  51. 14 January 1990
    Winter round. Heard Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming somewhere in a tree opposite lower end of the wood. I pruned laurel "hedge" by the Gregsons'. Quick round of top half. Of all the large trees there, all but one are pines and the other a silver birch. Pruned a bit of the rhododendrons along path - not a lot - not a lot!
    Snowdrops are starting to show - those I planted and those planted by an elderly gentleman on the mossy bank nearby.
    Very warm. Little rubbish. Quite a lot of remains of small Christmas tree twigs scattered around. Also small branches of what look like eucalyptus, but I think they must have come from the Holme Oak nearby. Removed a cider bottle and an old milk bottle from just outside the fence. Several piles of dog faeces scattered around the perimeter path! The fallen oak tree has flattened two small beech trees.

  52. 21 January 1990
    While out for a jog around the Corfe Mullen heathland and Broadway areas I had a quick look at the wood. My snowdrops and those planted "in the green" by the elderly man are beginning to come up quite noticeably now.

  53. 27 January 1990
    Quick round to check Thursday's "hurricane" damage. There are many trees uprooted and broken in whole area of Corfe Lodge Road opposite the wood. The contract workers hired by a house owner opposite have thrown a lot of tree branches in bottom right hand corner of the wood (east side). I have asked the man to ask the contractors to take away this rubbish when they come back to clear up all the debris.
    Inside the wood the main trunk of a beech tree in lower east side of the wood has snapped off and fallen into Mr Jessop's bit of woodland (front garden). It looks pretty rotten. Further up, a large pine has "heaved" and leans precariously over Mr Jessop's drive, supported by a small tree only. In the top half of the wood 3 or 4 pines are uprooted or "heaving". The path on top east side is blocked by 2 fallen trees. Path at top west side is slightly blocked by another fallen tree. Lots of debris lying around on floor of the wood. Snowdrops still coming up.

  54. 2 February 1990
    Went to have a look at the storm damage, first chance I've had with bad back. The damage is as follows:-
    1. Large beech, broken off 12 ft up, top is free and entirely in Mr Jessop's land, "Roman Heights". No danger. He says Woodland Trust can have the wood from this tree if they want. This was the tree that used to have large "ledge fungus" growing on it.
    2. Thin tree, probably was dead, broken 6ft up and fallen partly into Mr Jessop's laurel hedge. No danger.
    3. Large pine, heaved, now at 45° right across Mr Jessop's drive. Held up precariously by 2 small trees on other side of drive. This could easily fall further and completely block the drive.Urgently needs removing.
    4. Top of the wood, two medium sized pine trees have fallen together, top parts are across Mr Jessop's laurel hedge. They completely block the wood path. Clear as soon as convenient.
    5. Thin pine, flat across "cross-bar" path. no problem.
    6. Medium pine, may have been dead, flat and broken in rhododendron area. no problem.
    7. Large pine, heaved and flat in top west half of the wood. Trunk crosses the wood path, but not too difficult to climb over. Clear when convenient.
    8. Medium pine, heaved and at 45° half across Mr Jessop's laurel hedge at top half of the wood. Supported by one of Mr Jessop's trees. No danger but deal with it when possible.
    Talked to Mr A. Jessop, "Roman Heights". He is rather deaf and quite a nice bloke, about 60. He and his neighbour managed to clear the trees across the road with a chain saw. He said the sound effects last Thursday were rather frightening. The road area is now pretty wet and somebody is digging a drainage ditch alongside the road. Some big trees have fallen and been cut up at the side of road opposite Stonecrop Wood. Told Mr Jessop I would see that the tree across his drive was dealt with as soon as possible. However, Rosie says she has already told Colin Buttery all about it. Not much tree rubbish in bottom of the wood, contractors must have taken it away (see 27 Jan 90).

  55. 18 February 1990
    Quick round - all as before - daffodil bulbs are coming up - bit spindly! No signs of contractors' work yet.

  56. 3 March 1990
    Quick look at the wood by myself at 3pm. Most of the fallen trees have now been sawn into logs. The wood looks very ragged, with pine branches everywhere. Counted rings on the tree that fell into Mr Jessop's drive. About 60, meaning it was planted about 1930. Branches have been piled high, blocking the path at the top right end near the "Yuppie" - maybe we could clear it again? The large beech near the bottom east end has been cut up into fine flat logs, I would like one to count its rings.

  57. 4 March 1990
    We cleared the path at top end of the wood of pine branches and "tidied up". 2 robins a-hoppin' around most of the time - I guess they were lovers! We cleared away debris from remaining paths. A middle aged couple without a dog walked round the wood.
    We altered the landscape to recover the walk and make it look more interesting. We saw Mr Jessop repairing pot holes in Corfe Lodge Road.
    John filled up gap in Mr Jessop's hedge with a huge pile of pine branches - beautifully interwoven!

  58. 10 March 1990
    Tour of the wood 2pm by myself. Warm and sunny. Picked up a few odd bits of rubbish. Something or someone has taken a pine log near the top end of the wood and adzed off most of the thick bark all round leaving the log on its edge. It looks like a human, but why? A lot of the bark is still scattered on the path where the operation took place. Mr Faulkner has planted 10 skinny young conifers on his side of the fence near where the fallen tree has crossed the path near the top end of the wood.

  59. 17 March 1990
    Called at the wood by myself at 2pm. Beautiful spring day. Picked up small amount of wind-blown rubbish. Saw a few laurel seedlings and noticed that a nearly-dead laurel branch near Mr Gregson's front garden was starting to sprout and needed cutting down. Saw a squirrel carrying a fir cone stagger up a tree.
    I went with John for quick round of the wood and quick chop of afore-mentioned laurel branch. Noticed a small patch of wild cyclamen near Mr Faulkner's garden ("panhandle path").

  60. 28 March 1990
    Quick look at the wood while out for a jog. Mr Faulkner has continued planting conifers all along his boundary with the wood! In a few years time, they will cut out all the light from from the west. The bracken is beginning to show through.

  61. 9 April 1990
    Dry and cool. Walk round collecting rubbish. Only wind blown things found. Not much bracken in evidence yet. Mr Faulkner has planted small conifers round all his property where there isn't already a hedge. Will he keep it low? Some boys had fixed a large rope to a tree near the "panhandle", to swing from presumably.
    Mr Faulkner has actually planted the conifers alongside most of the top half of the wood in 3 stages - top end, bottom end and then middle bit by his blue caravan. Cut regrowth of laurel from cut stumps. Many of these stumps appear dead. Certainly there is very little re-growth compared to a few years ago. Pruned brambles from upper half path - not much growth as yet.

  62. 15 April 1990
    Look round the wood without tools. Collected wind-blown rubbish only. Lots of little tree seedlings are sprouting from the leafy wood floor.
    Pulled up a few laurel seedlings, including 2 larger ones on Mr Faulkner's side of the fence where he's planted his conifers! Bracken sprouting.

  63. 27 April 1990
    Quick round - pulled up some laurel re-growth. Heard green woodpecker. Many new tree seedlings, mostly beech, but some oaks coming up. I managed with difficulty to level up the laurel "hedge" by the Gregsons' house, because I only had secateurs. There were signs that the fox "earths" were being used again.

  64. 20 May 1990
    Sunny, fairly warm day! Much growing since last time. Much cutting of bracken and brambles along footpaths in top half of the wood. Placed cut bracken on parts of path where diversions had to be made as a result of the storm damage last January. Cut laurel re-growth at bottom end of the wood. Lots of seedlings in bottom half of the wood of ???? Saw a couple of squirrels and there were sounds of critters scampering about all afternoon.

  65. 3 June 1990
    Usual summer round. Everything growing well. Today it has rained fairly hard for the first time for ages - except for the odd sprinkling of rain a couple of times recently. Opened up another path in holly area at lower end of the wood because one of my paths was obstructed by fallen tree. There is a bit of rubbish at lower end of the wood. Bring a bag next time. Also 3 milk bottles which I placed by house "The Quillet" for, I hope, the milkman will collect. (Maybe it was "Little Quillet"!)

  66. 14 June 1990
    Usual summer round. I was off sick with ghastly cold. Heard green woodpecker a couple of times. John picked up rubbish. Everything growing fast.
    Not much rubbish. Bracken has grown greatly since I last saw it (15 April). Mr Faulkner has an old Ford Anglia parked in his back garden GHM 410. Pruned the main path so it was easy to walk round. The fox's "earth" is definitely being used again, but by what? Squirrel chomping away in the canopy above, constant rain of "bits".

  67. 10 July 1990
    Usual summer round. Everything growing like hell! Saw LBJ sparrow-sized bird (?tree creeper). The fox "earth" has been hugely excavated.
    Picked up a bit of wind-blown rubbish. Trimmed a lot of briars and bracken which were tending to overgrow the paths. Lots of ants moving in all directions on the wood floor. Saw a bird climbing slowly straight up a tree trunk. The old fox hole now has a lot of excavated earth in front of it.

  68. 5 August 1990
    Usual summer round. Things still growing, although possibly less fast. Heard green woodpecker. Everything very dry.
    Lot of long briars needed pruning. No rubbish to speak of. Yet more excavated earth at the fox hole. Nearby dead pine had woodpecker on top, pecking and making the tree ring like a bell when I put my hand on it. "Yuppie"'s pond has a fake heron nearby. Underfoot is very crunchy in the drought. 8" diameter dead tree snapped half way up and fallen almost into private drive. Mr Gregson or somebody has thrown 5 bits of sawn wood over the fence, which we collected and moved to help delineate south-east edge of the wood.

  69. 22 August 1990
    Usual summer round. Not much growing now. Most of the old laurel stumps appear dead now - after all these years.
    Found a milk bottle, been there years I expect. Lost my glove but found it again. Lots of squirrels eating and playing in the canopy. Minuscule amount of rubbish. Mr Gregson's young golden retriever, barks a lot at me. Otherwise - all quiet on the Stonecrop Front. Still some very long briars lurking in odd corners.

  70. 14 October 1990
    Usual "summer" round. Very little growth. Some of the hollies have loadsa berries on them, which are ripe now.

  71. 26 October 1990
    Usual "summer" round. Very little growing. Many berries on hollies. Chatted to the retired man who owns the dogs in house with lovely large garden at top end of the wood.
    Some wind-blown rubbish. Rather wet, quite a few toadstools of various shapes and sizes. Some briars and laurel needed pruning. Mr Faulkner has a new "toy" parked in his back garden - a large speedboat. The fox-hole and earth pile still look fresh.

  72. 25 November 1990
    Passed through the wood while out on a "jog". All OK but somebody or something has been digging 3 holes in lower half of the wood (2 near the road and one nearer the centre of the wood)
  73. 5 January 1991
    Nothing moves!
    Picked up a few bits of rubbish. Nothing unusual to report. The wood looked a bit sodden and bracken less noticeable. A couple of holes dug by small animals.

  74. 21 January 1991
    Quick walk around the wood on the way to "Naked Cross" nurseries. All OK.

  75. 3 February 1991
    Did some winter work. Pruned laurel hedge alongside east side of the wood. Lots of magpies squawking above!
    Found empty tin of cat food and a few bits of paper. The east side laurel hedge has grown quite a bit since we first pruned it. The fox hole still seems used.

  76. 10 February 1991
    Quick walk around the wood with small amount of snow on the ground! Only human and dog-prints around! Woodland Trust contractors, I presume, have cut up dead half-fallen oak in bottom end of the wood and cut down the remaining beech by the Gregsons' house. They have left a higher than normal stump - maybe a sort of "pollarded" tree! They have also left a pile of "twigs" around. This tree was showing signs of thinning of the canopy. (?acid rain!)
    Plenty of "doggy prints" along "cross-bar" path in top half of the wood but none seem to go into the fox-hole, so maybe it is disused.

  77. 19 February 1991
    Quick walk around the wood. The tree cuttings are still there making the front of the wood look a bit of an eyesore, otherwise nothing to report except that the snowdrops are starting to show with flower buds visible.

  78. 25 February 1991
    A couple of days ago, when I jogged past the wood, I noticed that someone had plonked a couple of small piles of laurel outside the fence at front end of the wood. I put them on the other side of the road where I think they had been cut from. They were still there today! In the wood I started spreading the moveable branches and logs around the lower half of the wood, including "threading" some of them in along laurel "hedges" by the Gregsons' property and under and around areas of holly. I persuaded a young-ish bearded man, walking his dog, to help me move the wood and he did but I had moved half of it already!

  79. 26 February 1991
    Bit more rubbish than usual. Something has forced its way through Mr Faulkner's barbed wire fence a few yards north of the caravan. It must be quite strong! Cleared one of the old "avenues" through the holly which was blocked by the broken tree that was moved recently. Distributed some of the large beech logs from the big chopped-up tree down into the open area left by our removal of the laurel some years ago. It was very heavy work!
    I continued where I left off yesterday and helped John roll the large logs down the "hill" until it started getting too dark about 6pm.

  80. 11 March 1991
    I carried on moving the cut wood from the beech tree by the Gregsons' house, so it is spread about a bit!
    Somebody has pinched a few logs we rolled near to the fence on 26 February. A friendly golden retriever bitch belonging to the Gregsons' called "Jessie", ran for anything thrown, but then didn't know what to do with it. Almost no rubbish. We cycled to the wood and back - a nice change! A elderly man + dog walked into the wood. Some daffodil leaves have sprouted, but no flowers.
    Snowdrops seem to be still around and showing no deterioration since they were planted.

  81. 24 March 1991
    Quick walk around the wood on way home from "Naked Cross" nurseries. Daffodils are still coming up but all but one group on slope by the Gregsons' are looking very feeble. Daffodils require good drainage, plenty of rain and plenty of sunshine. Grow better on a slope.

  82. 1 April 1991
    Quick walk around the wood on way back from "Naked Cross" nurseries. All OK.

  83. 2 May 1991
    A substantial wooden fence has been put up by the Woodland Trust along the boundary with the Gregsons' property. Some bits of wood and other junk was left and as a result some ?children? have built themselves a "den" with the wood and cut pine and laurel. This was in upper end of lower half of the wood. We picked up some of the wood and rubbish and put it in a pile by the Gregsons' new fence. Did a round, had no secateurs with us, not much growing - yet - bracken definitely growing though! Saw a little mouse at bottom end of the wood!
    Fence completely shields Mr Gregson from the wood - presumably he was in favour and probably has been pressing for this for years. Woodland Trust? has put in 3 small beech trees in line in open area near road. Some rubbish is heavy - eg. set concrete and fence offcuts - and we should take this away next time. Rosie should now write to the Woodland Trust to ask if we should remove the laurel near the new fence. This would allow the several small beech trees now seeded there to grow. Played with the golden retriever bitch, Jessie. Some more logs have disappeared near road.
    Found some bright pink cyclamen growing on the "panhandle" path by Mr Faulkner's (similar to the white cyclamen in Crete only bright pink).

  84. 24 June 1991
    The wooden fence was put up by the Gregsons, not the Woodland Trust. Very quick round due to the bad weather. We can remove the laurel by the Gregsons' completely in September/October as it is now surplus to requirements! Sally Glass is taking over from Colin Buttery from this month. I did a quick pruning of laurel by the Gregsons' fence, where a lot of beech seedlings have been struggling to grow so they have a little more light.
    The Woodland Trust sign on the gate seems new. The "Den" has been extended south since I last saw it. Rhododendrons in flower. Bracken grown quite high, and saturated the thighs of my trousers as I walked round. Collected some rubbish but there is still heavy (cement type) rubbish which needs collecting.

  85. 26 June 1991
    Did a bit more pruning of laurel by the Gregsons' fence where some small beeches are trying to grow. Did a huge path clearing job at top half of the wood as much growing of bracken and brambles has occurred since 2 May.

  86. 20 July 1991
    Much pruning of the top half of the wood footpath - after all the rain I suppose.

  87. 21 July 1991
    Pruned some laurel and pulled up seedlings along east laurel hedge where possible. A lot of cut logs are piled up along this side, since the last big storm. Cut loadsa bracken and placed it in narrow areas of path around the top half of the wood to try to stop regrowth of brambles underfoot.

  88. 21 August 1991
    Woodland Trust have cut down some rhododendrons and turned "our" path around top half of the wood into the M1! All my cut bracken has been removed and left in a pile or piles. Heard green woodpecker. Cut more brambles around path - mostly those underfoot now exposed after the removal of placed cut bracken! ?Squirrel chomping through pine cones.

  89. 19 September 1991
    Quick round of the top half of the wood. Cut some long bramble regrowth. We started to cut down the laurel along the Gregsons' fence. There is quite a lot to do. "Threaded" cut laurel in east-side laurel hedge.
    Since I was there last (3 months ago), bracken has grown, the cross-bar path has overgrown, The Woodland Trust has cut a part path into the rhodos and started to cut a few, and has also opened out the paths a bit near Mr Faulkner's. They have removed the two trees across the path. We spent 4 hours, cutting down and removing the last large area of laurel up against the Gregsons' new fence. Found quite a lot of windblown rubbish behind the laurels. Chatted to Mr Faulkner, who asked us to contact the Woodland Trust to get something done about a large branch from an oak tree which has fallen and wedged against a holly tree against the road, in a rather dangerous position.

  90. 27 September 1991
    I completed the removal of the clump of laurel beside the Gregsons' house. This was difficult due to the clump of brambles nearby. I cut the small stumps to ground level (those that John had previously cut!). I pulled up some roots. The larger stumps I had to leave but I cut any shoots John had missed! If one leaves the small stumps, one is inclined to trip over them as they are not easy to spot. I finally dispersed the pile of logs and branches that John had made during last week's cutting of laurel. (I had originally piled them up in front and under this area of laurel - to try to hold it back). I was doing all this for almost 7 hours and there was one short heavy shower of rain! I have "threaded" the cut laurel in the east-side laurel hedge to avoid the piles of laurel like last time! There is still quite a lot of laurel to do down at the front - about half of what's left in order to keep a screen for the Gregsons. (The whole time I was in the wood planes were coming and going overhead.)

  91. 2 October 1991
    Continued where I left off last week getting rid of more small stumps or cutting them to ground level - as I had missed some last week. Started on the lower laurel clump, cutting down one or two branches. Did a round of top half. Some long brambles to cut. Saw some ?long tailed tits at the far end.

  92. 6 October 1991
    Completed the removal of some of the laurel at the lower end of the wood. Had to "volunteer" a couple of men to cut the larger stumps. Mr Gregson appeared out of the "woodwork" and grouched a bit about removing more laurel. I was thus unable to cut it back as far as I would have liked but I at least got rid of the "dog leg". Made a demarcation line around the end of the remaining laurel clump with logs. Distributed the cut laurel as before, although a few branches were too heavy to lay in hedge on the other side. Loads of bricks in this area of laurel and some brambles. Chucked the bricks into the remaining laurel and a few small laurel branches. Heard green woodpecker. Woodland Trust have now chopped up the broken oak branch and broken holly branches.

  93. 15 October 1991
    Met Sally Glass the new area supervising officer at 11am. She said we could slowly cut the rhodos down and look for tree seedlings in the upper half of the wood and cut the ground cover around them to give them a chance to grow. Also we could place the unnecessary plastic tree covers around the new tree seedlings.

  94. 6 December 1991
    Quick round. Minute regrowth on recently cut down laurel which I removed. The top half of the wood has been completely transformed as the rhodos have been removed and burnt! There are a few small bits left, which we can remove. Heard a green woodpecker.

  95. 7 December 1991
    John and I have started removing remaining rhododendrons and pulled up a lot of long horizontal roots and I have placed them in the fire area.
    Nearly finished myself off, pulling up long hairy rhododendron roots. Exhausting, sweaty work. Practically all laurel and rhododendrons have been removed from the wood now, but the top part of the wood has still got dense brambles and bracken.

  96. 9 December 1991
    Continued where I left off on Saturday. Cut down a rhodo which had been missed by the Woodland Trust contractors because it was growing up against an evergreen tree with rather similar leaves. This had flowers very similar to "Lily of the Valley".

  97. 11 December 1991
    Removed more roots of rhododendrons and put them on the pile. After John went home, I cut down, pulled up and removed all the roots that I could of the rhododendron clump by the path crossing the centre of the top half of the wood and put the lot on the pile, which is now quite large! We saw an animal ?large rabbit when we arrived at the top half of the wood.
    Less sweaty because very cold, and dry. Managed to track down and pull up 3 or 4 rhododendron growing centres. Roots layer and can be 10 or 15 feet long.

  98. 12 December 1991
    Continued where we left off yesterday. I found another clump of rhodos by Mr Faulkner's fence which had been missed by Woodland Trust contractors. Got rid of it. Had difficulty putting the cuttings on the pile which is too high for me now! This clump had been partially hidden by brambles. The "pan-handle" area is now no longer a "pan-handle", now all the rhodos have gone! I have got rid of removable roots in this area. Pulled up and/or cut down laurel plants and seedlings in top half of the wood. The plants are visible now as the bracken is brown and becoming flattened.
    I just pulled rhododendron roots until I was exhausted. The soil is about 9" deep, crumbly with leaf mould and bits of wood, and very dry. Underneath lies pebbles and "real" soil. Most of the roots have "surfaced" then re-entered 2 or 3 times. The biggest growing centres are a mass of small roots that hold a lot of leaf mould but do not penetrate into the "real soil". Between the growing centres are horizontal "roots" that have formed a network. Best way to heave a resistant root is to crouch with bum on heel and use body inertia to gradually rip the root out of the soil.

  99. 13 December 1991
    Continued where we left off yesterday. I found one rhodo shoot, which I had missed by Mr Faulkner's fence. There are still a few stumps yet to be removed. Robins are flitting about as we clear the rhodos every day!

  100. 14 December 1991
    As yesterday. Some stumps are too big to get out.

  101. 15 December 1991
    As yesterday. Still finding more stumps of rhododendrons. Pulled up laurel seedlings in top half bracken/bramble infested area - near the path by fox-hole. Many more lurking! I found the laurel seedlings after I pulled up more roots from the clump of rhodo nearby!

  102. 18 December 1991
    More laurel seedlings removal along the fox-hole path and along bramble and bracken undergrowth adjacent to the east laurel hedge. Dug out and pulled up some laurel roots and minor stumps by the Gregsons' fence area. Those roots that were unmovable were cut if possible. As the earth near the fence is very heavy total removal of laurel roots is going to be very difficult - probably impossible! Removed some more missed roots in the rhododendron area. Piled a few logs (small) over the 2 stumps near Mr Faulkner's fence in the ex-"panhandle" area to mark them. Cleared the pile of rotting logs in rhododendron area and removed the rhodo roots beneath and the few small stumps. Found some laurel growing in the rhodo area near ex-"panhandle" and luckily I was able to pull it up!

Composed, transcribed and copyright © 2001, Rosemary Doughty. All Rights Reserved.
with some help from John Palmer.