The Diary of Stonecrop Wood
1992-1994 part

Updated 3 May 2001

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  1. 7 January 1992
    Moved the 2 loads of leaf mould by Mr Gregson's fence. That in lower end of the wood I spread around nearby and kicked the rest downwards and sideways! The load higher up I spread in the cleared area in top half. Out popped Mr Gregson's gardener, so I asked him to put any leaf mould in our cleared area at top in future. Maybe I should have mentioned the bottom half as well. The man might have been a gardener but he sure ain't a Clay Jones! A jogger suddenly appeared earlier when I was in the lower end - I never saw him run in only out. I asked him "if he was free". He wasn't, it was his lunch hour. He works at "Knoll Country Club", said his name was "Kim" or "Tim". Maybe he will raise some helpers from "The Knoll" sometime. Found 3 laurel seedlings in path by fox-hole which I had missed.

  2. 12 January 1992
    Sunny, cold an apparently no wind so we set fire to the pile with paper and 2 packets of firelighters. It wasn't long before Mr Gregson was out and complaining about the bits flying over his garden and onto his wife's washing which we couldn't see because of the "Fort Knox" fence! John dug up 2 more stumps of rhodos in the old "Panhandle" area by Mr Faulkner's. There is still 1 more to remove there. (I covered this with logs, as marker). I cleared some bramble from around a ?little oak tree in the bramble "patch" in top half of the wood. I found a large laurel seedling nearby which I pulled up. I removed most of the rhodos by the Gregsons' fence in lower half of the wood. Cut back the rest.

  3. 13 January 1992
    Mr D.C Faulkner is 50 today! Somebody had put a large poster on the house opposite his, which is "Stonecrop". The former is being renovated or extended. The poster had a cartoonist version of him sitting in his Range-Rover with number plate DCF 50! Our fire was still smouldering at 1pm so I rekindled it by gathering up unburnt bits and then later on I bunged on some of the rhodo roots which I had chucked into the east laurel hedge. These burned really fast as they were now so dry. I then moved the debris (oak and holly branches) placing most of it along the east laurel hedge. This had lain at the front of the wood when contractors had cut down the broken oak branch some time ago. Only odd bits left now.

  4. 14 January 1992
    John dug up 2 more rhodo stumps, including the 1 by Mr Faulkner's. I found a few more pullable roots and one I couldn't pull! The embers on the fire were still warm and I piled up some broken up sticks and rhodo roots and I think they were starting to smoulder when we left. Moved the remaining oak and holly debris at front of wood. Still a few more rhodo stumps to go!

  5. 15 January 1992
    I found more rhodo roots and larger stumps. I managed to remove a stump, "attached" to a fallen, cut up pine tree! Restarted the small fire. Pulled up more rhodo roots which I had previously missed!

  6. 16 January 1992
    Found even more rhodo stumps which I have marked with logs! Pulled up more rhodo roots - one was a real heave! - and bunged them on the fire which I restarted. Collected dry rhodo sticks and put some on the fire.

  7. 17 January 1992
    The fire was still smoking and I restarted it with sticks and stumps and roots of rhodos which I had chucked into the east laurel hedge. Found more stumps which I marked with logs and some smaller stumps and roots which I heaved out and put on the fire. Many old laurel stumps at front end of wood are rotten and break up now.

  8. 18 January 1992
    Managed to get rid of a few of the old rotting laurel stumps in bottom end of the wood. Relit fire but not much to burn now. Dug up a small rhodo stump that I found yesterday. Without John, there isn't much I can do about removing remaining rhodo stumps. Received letter from Sally Glass today. Woodland Trust are going to remove 4 pines from far end of wood.

  9. 19 January 1992
    Picked up lots of rhodo sticks and put short ones on fire and the rest on the side. Found one or two small roots which had not been pulled out or maybe they had been pulled out and were re-rooting! Did not relight fire as I think Mr Gregson is about! Started removing laurel seedlings in top half of the wood alongside the east-side laurel hedge. There are loads of them - all lurking anywhere! A patch of seedlings turned out to be regrowth on old roots, most I was able to pull up. Found a few seedlings lurking by the rear fence too. Unfortunately there are 4 small laurel plants along the border of the garden behind top west end of the wood. These look like planted laurels not self seedlings.

  10. 20 January 1992
    Burnt all the sticks I picked up yesterday + others picked up today. Found a couple of rhodo roots as well. Moved 3 large laurel branches, which I had dumped in east laurel hedge, to the top end of wood and put them on top of the pine debris we had made into part of the east hedge. Had to saw some of the smaller branches and dump them into the east hedge first.

  11. 23 January 1992
    John dug up all but one of the rhodo stumps I had marked with logs - I think! The large one by the Gregsons' fence and the one marked with white car paint are left. I found another small stump which I pulled up. Lit the bonfire but it did not burn very well. I have found a rhodo actually growing in the east laurel hedge so there is not much I can do about that as the base is on "Roman Heights" land.
    How to dig up rhododendron roots: Locate roots, by tripping over or removing pile of logs used to mark its location. Kneel beside on kneeler. Have following tools in a trug: trowel, heavy secateurs, thin saw and machete. Using appropriate tool, dig circular trench around centre of root, cutting through radiating roots as encountered, through topsoil until grey, stoney subsoil is reached. Usually radiating roots only grow in top soil. Then, with heels close to centre and straight back, pull hard on remaining centre stem (the longer stem the better - more leverage). When root mass comes loose, beat it against a tree to shake away as much soil as possible, and throw onto bonfire. This is a tiring procedure, not advisable to move more than eight times in one day. The radiating roots remaining can then be pulled out fairly easily.

  12. 24 January 1992
    John dug up the last 2 remaining (marked) stumps - I think the painted one was in fact an old pine tree root or something else! I found another stump near east laurel hedge after I had shifted the rotting pile of logs and very old cut rhodo branches. The latter I put on the fire. I think the stump might be a rhodo but it looks fairly dead. I put some of the logs back on top of it to mark it! I cut back the hedge rhodo and burnt the branches. The fire did not take well at first. Found another pullable rhodo root! Broke up old laurel stumps in front of wood - those that were rotted!

  13. 25 January 1992
    Fire was still smouldering. Put more sticks on and relit it. No problem today. Tried to remove stump near east hedge. Gave up! Still can't make up my mind if it is a laurel or a rhodo. Collected more sticks and put on fire. Found the odd pullable rhodo root. Put 'em on fire. Checked area near fox-hole where I had pulled up a whole rhododendron clump. Found smallish stump which I managed to remove, with difficulty! Also found more pullable roots - I had not really checked that area very well. I think the stump I found there is the only one. I had forgotten about it after I got rid of that rhodo clump! Found more laurel seedlings near this area and pulled 'em out. Started to rain about 4pm.

  14. 29 January 1992
    Relit fire. Collected some small green rhodo branches lying around and put them on fire. Found 1 or 2 small rhodo roots which I pulled and put on fire. Found more laurel seedlings - pullable. Started again on east laurel hedge regrowth. John turned up. Most of the laurel seedlings are in the top half of the wood. The laurel hedge at the top east end has flower buds on it. Not many flowers lower down. John found a clump of rhodo at the top east end of the wood - lurking in the bracken and brambles. Must have originated from a seedling! With difficulty he removed it - but due to the piles of pine logs there, there are probably some roots left. John found quite a few laurel seedlings in the bracken and bramble patch. He has also cut some more paths in this area. Heard an owl.
    I cut new paths as shown (^diagram omitted). Slow progress, hundreds of briars need cutting with secateurs. Require thick gloves and trousers and jacket. Found the odd laurel hiding away. Dead bracken very high in places.

  15. 30 January 1992
    Relit fire but it did not burn well. Continued clearing the new paths which John cleared yesterday. John cleared another new path and I cleared it more. Found one or two laurel seedlings. John found a real big 'un. Cleared some undergrowth from around one or two small birch and rowan trees. Heard the owl again.
    Yes, cleared another path as shown (^diagram omitted). Slower progress, some really thick briars and head-high bracken. Came across little trees that need a chance. Continued path-making, will eventually clear all briars and bracken. Is this what Sally Glass wants? Should check

  16. 1 February 1992
    Relit fire, but it did not burn well again. Unwound plastic covers on trees the Woodland Trust had planted some years ago and placed them on other smaller self-seeded trees. I needed scissors to cut them to fit occasionally. Luckily John turned up with his little folding scissors! We then started cutting more paths in the top half "jungle" - one over the big fallen pine, which had originally stood by the fence near Mr Faulkner's.
    Chatted to young bearded man who lives at "Quillet". The short path was done last and was hardest (^diagram omitted). Briars and bracken were well above head height and the path had to cross a very large fallen pine. But we started at each end and met in the middle, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"

  17. 2 February 1992
    Continued, by myself, the path clearing in the bramble patch. I finished off the semi-cleared paths near the ex-rhodo area so we now have a reasonable set of paths now. Found a few laurel seedlings. (^diagram omitted)
    Yesterday I heard a greater spotted woodpecker drumming and a green woodpecker calling. Today I heard the green woodpecker calling.

  18. 3 March 1992
    Quick round. Picked off regrowth on this winter's cut laurel by the Gregsons' fence at lower end of the wood. Nearby a laurel leaf had taken root on its stalk and was starting to grow! The snowdrops are showing, some have flowered. The area of daffodils on the slope below beech tree near the Gregsons' fence are coming up, late as usual! No sign of the other patches of daffodils. Woodland Trust contractors have cut down 2 pines in bramble area in top half and pruned lower branches from a Scots pine in the ex-rhodo area, near the ivy-covered Scots pine.

  19. 16 March 1992
    Quick round. Bracken starting to show. Many birds singing (6pm). Small shoots on laurel stumps by the Gregsons' fence. Daffodils in bud, by the Gregsons' fence.

  20. 17 March 1992
    John collected the rubbish and I cut regrowth from the laurel stumps by the Gregsons' fence. There were plenty of shoots. Also removed a few roots and minor stumps. The regrowth was also appearing on previously cut small branches lying on the ground! Also 1 leaf was sprouting! Mr Gregson and friends appear to be building an extension on fence side of his house.

  21. 28 March 1992
    Spring round. Leaves on Rowans coming out. Bracken coming up. Heard green woodpecker. Pruned the myriad paths, in top half of the wood, of regrowing bramble (not very much yet). The fox-hole is being used again. Fresh earth has been dug out, with paw prints. I found 3-4 small rhododendron roots which I pulled up in our main rhodo patch, also some small green rhodos in small patch at top of the wood which John had not previously spotted. Also a large laurel seedling which I pulled up. The rhodo roots I pulled had shoots sprouting on them.

  22. 5 April 1992
    John and I took Ann Butler to wood. Did spring round. Pulled up regrowth on laurel stumps by Mr Gregson's house which is now covered by scaffolding! Bracken sprouting up "everywhere"! Heard green woodpecker and drumming of a great spotted woodpecker. It should be easier pruning the top half of the wood now there are many paths because we can keep the brambles at a minimum.
    Removed all rubbish. Can't be many woods around with zero rubbish! Ann said she heard "growling" down the fox-howl but I didn't. There's lots of new tailings but no spraint. Mr Gregson's scaffolding looks matched to another storey on the present bungalow.

  23. 12 April 1992
    Good round. Removed regrowth on laurel stumps by the Gregsons'. Bungalow completely covered in scaffolding and now with a "roof". Managed to remove one or two small roots in this area of the wood. Cut growing bracken on the paths in the top half of the wood. Pulled up a rhodo plant which we had missed because it lurked in an area of thick dead bracken and live brambles! I "tripped" over a couple of rhodo roots in the main ex-rhodo area and I pulled them up. There are seedlings coming up everywhere which at first glance look like laurel but they are not woody and the leaves are thinner than laurel.
    In the top half of the wood there are quite a number of Rowan saplings, also 1 "conker" sapling! How did that get there? John pulled up or cut some bracken in other parts of the wood. Actually there are a couple of very small saplings of horse chestnut in bottom half of the wood near Mr Gregson's fence. We pulled or cut about 800 bracken stems together.

    See "Bracken Table" for a list of the 25,000 bracken tops we cut in 10 weeks. And after all that effort, the bracken was just as widespread when we returned from holiday!

    There appears to be only 1 surviving little oak from the original 9 that I planted. This tree and the 8 that I planted in our garden around the same time (February 1987) have grown at different rates. Those in our garden have all survived and are much bigger. These have been fed with "Phostrogen" and "Vitax Q4" whereas those in the wood have been left un-fed. Some of the latter have disappeared, probably they have been trampled on and the others have died naturally. In the top half of the wood where there are some small self-sown oaks, these appear to be surviving.

  24. 17 April 1992
    Heard a cuckoo for the first time this year! Terrible noise coming from Mr Gregson's "building site"! T'is a wonder I heard the cuckoo! Mr Gregson looks as though he is building a complete new house around his bungalow. Walls are going up all around. It is going to be a huge box like the "posh" houses behind the wood off Springdale Road.
    Cut bracken in lower half of the wood very thoroughly and in the lower part of the top half less thoroughly. I cut about 700 stems. More will be coming through as spring moves on! Found 3 medium-sized rhodo stumps in small area. Removed 2 and covered the third with sticks and small logs because it was too big for me to remove.
    There are numerous "conker" seedlings sprouting all over the wood! How did they get there as there are no mature trees of that ilk in the area! Did a quick round of all the paths, not much to cut. Heard green woodpecker but not the greater spotted variety. In the overgrown bramble areas I shall leave the bracken!

  25. 18 April 1992
    Saw a green woodpecker about 30 yards away. Heard greater spotted woodpecker in woodland adjacent to lower part of the wood. There is probably a nest nearby. Carried on cutting bracken, pulling up laurel and rhodo seedlings. John dug up the immovable rhodo stump.
    Mr Gregson's scaffolding is now topped with plastic and is overpowering - like a small version of the Vertical Assembly Building at Cape Canaveral! He has taken all his tiles off and stacked them. I took a photo. I continued topping bracken after pulling up a rhodo stump, also I pulled up lots of laurel seedlings. Some building rubbish has found its way into the wood.

  26. 23 April 1992
    Pulled more bracken heads off. John helped for about 1hr 30min. I now think the seedlings that look a bit like laurel are laurel! They are first year seedlings whereas the ones we pull up are usually older and therefore woody. I also came across more rhodo roots which I managed to grub out. Heard green woodpecker. Pulled regrowth from laurel stumps by Mr Gregson's fence.
    I pulled 700 heads with my fingers!

  27. 29 April 1992
    John pulled off about 1,040 bracken heads. I pulled 1,060. I pulled up a number of laurel seedlings also. I also removed regrowth from laurel stumps by the Gregsons' fence. Heard green woodpecker.
    I used a tool I think is called a "horizontal edge cutter", with glove, to cut 1,000+ bracken tops. Easily the best way. Quick, protects fingers, and allows greater reach among briars. Starting early April, bracken should be cut every week, 2,000 between us, until briars have grown too thick. A cutter with a counter would be great!

  28. 2 May 1992
    Today I decapitated another 860 bracken heads. "Jessie", the Gregsons' golden Labrador bitch, came to watch. As I was looking along the "Roman Heights" east laurel hedge, a voice shouted "Hey, what are you doing?" It was ?Mr Jessop who I haven't seen for a long time. He almost ran over towards me. "Don't you spy on me or I'll call the police". "I'm the warden of the wood, and my name is Palmer. I'm not spying". "If you spy on me I'll call the police" and he disappeared again. Found two more large, used, entrances to the fox lair. One a few yards south and one a few yards north of the main entrance. Both are well hidden under briars.
    I pulled off 656 bracken heads. Found 2 or 3 small rhodo roots which John pulled up. The new growth is now beginning to show so I suppose we will find more and more rhodo roots! I also pulled up "millions" of laurel seedlings in top half of wood.

  29. 5 May 1992
    John beheaded 740 bracken heads. I beheaded about 700 (I forgot to count at start!) I also pulled loads of laurel seedlings.
    Yes, decapitated 740, but I had to hunt for half of them. Only a bit of rubbish, some was from Mr Gregson's building which I chucked back

  30. 9 May 1992
    I pulled 720 bracken. John cut 1,350 bracken. I pulled loadsa rhodo roots and had to ask John to pull those that were too big. One was too ensconced in the soil so we had to leave it until we next bring the required tools. I marked it with some cut wood. Pulled up laurel seedlings. Heard green woodpecker. (Approximately 10,000 bracken heads to date)

  31. 10 May 1992
    I beheaded 376 bracken. John beheaded 222. I cut down the laurel surrounding the little beeches near the Gregsons' fence. There are still a few more small laurel stems I would like to remove there! Not much bramble growth that needs cutting yet.
    Grubbed up a very difficult rhodo stump (around ^P6), the soil was unusually deep and thick roots had gone downwards and were not easy to get at. Chatted to a lady with a fat short-legged little dog who lived nearby. She will bring bluebell bulbs. She said there was a badger sett somewhere in southern edge of wood. A badger had scarred her dog's muzzle. Also she had seen two or three large deer in the wood. Took plastic dustbin into wood and removed the wire mesh around which a beech tree had grown (^G5) and an old carpet I found (^M6). Also removed wood and iron rubbish just outside front fence (^D2).

  32. 14 May 1992
    Lovely hot day. Went up to the wood by myself. Beheaded 1,000 bracken. Found young dead rabbit about ^U7. Mr Gregson's building going merrily apace. No rubbish in the wood. Heard woodpecker. Saw large plump rabbit which didn't run away, it just steered clear of me.

  33. 17 May 1992
    I beheaded about 880 bracken heads, John beheaded 1,611! I found loadsa rhodo roots, some John had to remove. The shoots are showing well now! The bracken appears to be growing faster now! I think it gets faster as spring advances into summer.
    Yes, 1,611 heads. Amazing how it has grown in 3 days. Most grows in sunny areas without other cover. Total removed so far is 14,175 in 5 weeks, about 3,000 per week. No rubbish.

  34. 20 May 1992
    Went to the wood after the beach, still in shorts. Bad mistake, got 10 Blandford Fly bites on left lower leg, and 8 on right ankle, lots of mosquito bites and lots of briar scratches. In future, always use tough long trousers tucked into long socks. Cut 1,020 bracken heads, after which I came home exhausted. Still quite a few left, they are growing like mad at the moment.
    Beheaded about 250 bracken. Pulled new shoots from laurel stumps, by the Gregsons'. Got bitten by 3 Blandford Flies. Pulled even more rhodo roots!

  35. 21 May 1992
    John pulled 700 bracken heads. I pulled about 480. Pulled up more rhodo roots. We were 2 hours earlier than yesterday so we didn't get eaten by Blandford flies! Left at 5pm. Pulled up a small shoot attached to an acorn by mistake and planted it near fire area. Mr Faulkner has beheaded bracken in his garden.

  36. 24 May 1992
    John pulled about 1,151 bracken heads and I did about 650. Heard green woodpecker very close and I spoke to the couple who live next door to the Gregsons, I, down by the fence and they, in their back garden. They said Mr Gregson is building a huge extension upwards and outwards! Pulled more rhodo roots. Had to leave one big one north of the main rhodo area due to attentions of Blandford Flies (I got 5 new bites). I couldn't spend a long time on hands and knees struggling to remove it! Removed more laurel regrowth down by the Gregsons' fence. The oak tree I planted has died. I moved another one from a poor position to a light position, watered and fed it. I marked it with logs and sticks as well as other tiny oaks. Pruned brambles around paths where necessary.

  37. 25 May 1992
    Lovely day. Picked 470 bracken heads. Needed hard searching. Cut a short path around ^U6, between 2 trees, through very high bramble mass, enabling me to get at and remove quite a lot of tall bracken. Also removed yet another rhodo root. Saw Mr Faulkner in distance. Found a plastic tube deep in briars, thrown here by "Pine Glade" occupant, after Rosie had thrown it into his garden, after I had found it originally!
    I cut about 180 bracken. I smoothed out John's new path. I marked some more oak seedlings with logs. Fed some oak seedlings and a small new beech tree, which Woodland Trust planted near front, with "VITAX Q4" (the 2nd little beech, nearby, has died). Summer path pruning. Found and pulled some small rhodo roots. (John pulled out the one I found yesterday, which I couldn't remove).

  38. 27 May 1992
    Picked 613 bracken heads, prickly searching needed. Dug up a big rhodo root. Total picked now 20,000 (almost). There are topless stalks everywhere, like miniature lodgepole pines!
    2 litres of water given to the 1 survivor of the 2 or 3 little beeches planted by the Woodland Trust last year. Pulled more regrowth from laurel stumps by the Gregsons' fence. Marked 2 more oak seedlings with logs. These 2 were close together. Pulled 260 bracken heads. Pulled up more rhodo roots.

  39. 31 May 1992
    Picked 1,000. Rosie 470. Difficult to find any more, looks like the rate is now dropping, see ^graph. Extended two more paths around ^T6. Probably won't see the wood for 4 weeks, so a lot of bracken will grow. In the winter we must control briars by cutting lots of small paths, say a new one per visit.
    As well as picking 470 bracken heads, I pulled up many rhodo roots and many laurel seedlings. I cut some of Mr Jessop's rhodo that was leaning on "our" side. Gave the little beech tree another 2 litres of water. One of my "marked" oak seedlings had been broken so I used logs to "mark" another nearby.

  40. 28 June 1992
    Picked 1386 bracken. This included those cut on paths. Cleared bracken and brambles on perimeter path, along old "Panhandle" and the 2 horizontal paths in top half of the wood. The new horizontal path was heavily infested with bracken. The established one was not so bad. The vertical ones, one can hardly see! The Gregsons were not around so I cut down the remainder of the little clump of laurel down near the front by their fence. I pulled all the regrowth from the laurel stumps and I pulled many rhodo roots. Saw green woodpecker! Evidence of horse in wood.

  41. 29 June 1992
    Cut or pulled about 700 bracken. John cut about 1100 bracken. We cleared all the remaining paths. I saw some LBJs feeding from the trunks of trees, mainly from the pine trees. I also thinned out bracken from the rhodo area so I can see any rhodo regrowth easier. Found a few rhodo roots and pulled them up. The Gregsons' house is progressing and one can see the final height will be at the same level as the next door bungalow.

  42. 8 July 1992
    Usual summer round of keeping paths clear. Found 1 or 2 rhodo roots which I pulled up. Put some cut bracken on our new paths, including the small pile of previously cut bracken.

  43. 12 July 1992
    Removed bindweed from small beeches near the Gregsons' fence at bottom of the wood. Pulled or cut some laurel regrowth from the laurel stumps near the fence. Path clearing in top half of the wood. A couple of new paths made. One path crosses through area of rhodo that was at the top end of the wood. I removed some rhodo regrowth here. A couple of fallen trees make it difficult to remove rhodo roots here.

  44. 28 July 1992
    Summer round. Cut regrowth on laurel stumps by the Gregsons'. Found more rhodo roots and removed them. Cut bracken and brambles in top half of the wood. Bracken still growing (new shoots still coming up).

  45. 15 August 1992
    Summer round. Same as last time. Also thinned out bracken in area where the rhodos had been. Actually must be "above" area where the rhodos were, because it wouldn't be so thick there. Lots of squirrels scurrying about and things still growing well!

  46. 31 August 1992
    Cut regrowth of laurel by the Gregsons' fence. Trimmed some standing laurel overhanging the 4 little beeches near the Gregsons' fence. Shower of rain, one of many during most of this month! Cleared paths in top half of the wood. Pulled one or two rhodo roots. It also hailed briefly during the shower of rain.

  47. 8 September 1992
    Cut regrowth of laurel (not much) from stumps by the Gregsons' fence. Pulled one or two rhodo roots from ex-rhodo patch. Found one near Mr Faulkner's fence (old "panhandle"). I had previously marked it with logs and forgotten it! I pulled up a root but I was not sure if it was the rhodo, as other roots present. Did very quick prune of the paths - not much growing.

  48. 26 September 1992
    Not much growing now. Cut regrowth from the laurel stumps by the Gregsons' fence. Marked a tiny oak seedling in the area with logs. Pulled a few rhodo roots in ex-rhodo area. Still they appear when they shoot up new shoots! Cut brambles on all the paths. Bracken dying down now. The Gregsons' house is nearly finished but it looms over the wood!

  49. 12 October 1992
    Have sprinkled some acorns around. It was Autumn 87, when there was a glut of acorns, that I sprinkled the last lot. Very few acorns this year, except for 1 medium sized tree in Clarendon Road which had loads of fallen acorns. Cut laurel regrowth by the Gregsons' and pruned paths in top half of brambles. The Gregsons' house is almost finished.

  50. 14 October 1992
    Sprinkled more acorns around. None yet sprinkled in top third of the wood, the bramble infested bit. The Maritime pines are looking like vegetarian towers of Pisa and two are very dead! One on the eastern boundary about half way from bottom (south) end and the other (larger one) nearby.
    Mr Gregson's "new" house and fence take a lot of light away from the lower half of the wood, especially where I planted daffodil bulbs in 1983 on the slope under a beech tree near this fence. I have found only 2 oak trees locally that have dropped a large amount of acorns this autumn. These both beside roads (Clarendon Road and Wareham Road, Wind Green roundabout end). Obviously less squirrels beside roads! A small third tree on heathland beside Roman Road near Mount "Pleasant" had a fair amount of fallen acorns.

  51. 17 October 1992
    Collected loads of acorns from the big lone oak in Phellips road and sprinkled them around top third of the wood. There are quite a few small oaks in top half of the wood and one or two somewhat larger ones. One of these in top east corner was being smothered by the laurel hedge so I cut down some large branches of the laurel with some difficulty.

  52. 19 October 1992
    There are only 3 small ash trees in the wood - in top half near Mr Faulkner's fence - 2 were planted by Woodland Trust and one appears self-seeded as it is a lot smaller. Where did it come from?

  53. 5 November 1992
    Sprinkled some Field maple seeds collected from around Corfe Hills School playing field. A laurel plant needs removing from top left hand corner by the posh garden (north-west end). It is too big to pull out.

  54. 7 November 1992
    The above laurel plant was regrowth from a stump so had to be cut. Also cut another laurel branch in east hedge at north end in order to give more space to the smallish oak tree and silver birch there.

  55. 11 November 1992
    Sunny, cool and windy. In the wood 2-5pm. I did a trash round. A few bits of building trash from the Gregsons' new house were returned. A bit of trimming to interior paths. Then I trimmed the whole length of the east laurel hedge, taking it behind the line of old fence posts. Quit when my arm tendons started aching. The wood looks very different now from when I was last there in August, because all bracken has now died.
    Pruned brambles around the paths - some fairly substantially. Tried to remove some brambles growing over small trees and holly. Some broken branches of Maritime pine had been dumped underneath a Scots pine at the top end of the wood, probably by the "Yuppie", whose garden backs onto the wood (in the new ghastly estate). We tossed them into the east laurel hedge - maybe they had fallen into his garden from a Maritime pine in the wood, so he tossed them back - but then maybe they had come from one of his trees.

  56. 12 November 1992
    I chucked all of John's cuttings of yesterday into the east laurel hedge. A lot of regrowth of laurel needs cutting or pulling out etc. in the wood alongside this hedge. There is a very sorry bent little oak tree being slowly throttled by this hedge. One large laurel branch has grown over this oak and its trunk has got a 90° kink in it! This tree is situated near the top of the wood.

  57. 17 November 1992
    Cold, sunny and damp, fallen leaves attractive. Little rubbish, some building bricks and offcuts returned. Found a good golfball in the holly area! Cut down the big laurel stem which was throttling the oak tree (^see above). Also cut off the parts of the two plastic drainage tubes from the Gregsons' extending above the surface because "they did offend my sight". Took them to Willis Way dump.
    Cut a very small amount of regrowth from laurel stumps by the Gregsons' house and tidied up the cut laurel in top half of the wood by chucking it into the east-side laurel hedge ... from whence it came originally!

  58. 22 November 1992
    All OK! I had gone out for a jog!!

  59. 24 December 1992
    Quick round. Pulled some regrowth from laurel stumps by the Gregsons' fence. Some branches have been taken out of an oak at front of the wood and from Holm Oak. Dead Maritime pine at top part of lower half of the wood cut down. The other is on the other side of boundary so has been left. Pulled small regrowth of rhododendron. Planks nailed to rear portion of the Gregsons' fence on the wood side ... by whom? Woodland Trust haven't done anything in top half of the wood.
  60. 16 January 1993
    Quick round. Mr Gregson's fence is down at the back. Most of the bits are lying in the wood except for 1 section. Pulled some regrowth from laurel stumps by his fence. Not much at this time of year. A small dead pine had snapped in half in top half of the wood and the broken off bit was caught in a deciduous shrub-like tree.

  61. 17 January 1993
    Pruned brambles around all the paths in top half of the wood. Chucked a pile of cut Maritime pine branches into east laurel hedge. We tried to disentangle the broken dead pine from the deciduous tree but could not shift it. We have cut a bit off of it though.
    Saw the wood for first time for 8 weeks. Mr Gregson came out to tell me his back fence blew down last Sunday (7 days ago). 9 sections + 7 concrete posts + foundations are down. He's redug holes but they've filled with water. He's waiting for some specially large wooden posts. I think it will just happen again. The fence has no holes to let the wind through, and in a storm from the south the pressure must be terrific. Picked up some rubbish, including a milk bottle, toy football and toy spade, all buried.

  62. 8 March 1993
    Quick round. No change except Mr Gregson has re-erected his fallen bit of fence. Pulled regrowth from laurel stumps by the fence.

  63. 25 March 1993
    The bracken has started growing again! Cut regrowth from laurel stumps by Mr Gregson's fence. Pruned small amount of regrowth of brambles and topped bracken along the paths in the top half of the wood.

  64. 24 May 1993
    Lots of path clearing to do. Much bracken almost obliterating paths. Some paths cleared but much more to do. Cut lots of regrowth from laurel stumps by the Gregsons' fence. Pulled up a small-ish rhodo root.
    I got there first by car. Cleared a lot but not all paths of bracken with gloves and clipper but still got blister. Use hedgetrimmer next time. Something very strange. One of the "alleys" through holly by road had been blocked up by many large dead laurel stems presumably taken from the east laurel hedge. Also blocked by some tree logs and a string ending in a home-made grappling hook made from 3 wire coat-hooks. I could think of no purpose behind the effort needed to put it there. I removed it all, putting the stems back in the hedge. Also picked up a small beer bottle, paper with pencil plans marked "F.Glass" and some litter.

  65. 25 May 1993
    Carried on where I left off yesterday. Much path clearing of bracken and brambles - mainly bracken. Some of the paths were barely visible due to the bracken. 2 guys (separately) with dogs came into the wood. I chatted to the first. He said that he saw some teenage boys in area where there was a sort of "den" in the lower holly area, which John cleared away yesterday.

  66. 13 June 1993
    Lots of path clearing done and a little cutting of laurel regrowth by the Gregsons' fence. The laurel stumps appear to be dying (slowly), although I think it took about 7 years for the stumps in lower end of wood to die! The whole time I was in top half of wood the man with the very large garden and dogs (top, left end) was on his sit-on motor mower going up and down! He was getting on my nerves so I finally went over and told him so. I said he'd given me a headache and what about his neighbours? I bet they get fed up - he's always mowing his lawn and it takes ages. He was very sheepish, when I spoke to him!

  67. 3 July 1993
    Cut regrowth from laurel stumps by Mr Gregson's fence, I don't think they are dying after all! Somebody has "pruned" some of the small beeches in the little clump nearby. Those cut are the ones nearest the Gregsons' sun-lounge. Lots of pruning of all the paths up at the top half which were very overgrown. Very warm sunny day mostly. Some of the little oak seedlings look as though they will make it. John used the electric pruner which lasts about half hour before recharging.
    The cordless hedge-trimmer worked well on bracken but better on briars. I was able to substantially clear all paths before the battery ran out. Not much rubbish to pick up. The wood is at its best, bursting with greenery under a hot sun. Two young girls and dog walked through but didn't answer my "hello". Found a golf ball, coloured "dayglow" orange.

  68. 3 August 1993
    Quick round. Cut regrowth on laurel stumps by the Gregsons' fence. Quick prune of perimeter path at top half of the wood. A green woodpecker was about! Everything overgrown as we have been on holiday again (Russia and trans-Siberian Railway).

  69. 5 August 1993
    Heavy pruning of all paths in top half of the wood. Much growth in brambles and bracken. Heard green woodpecker briefly.
    The briars are growing very fast. The hedge trimmer is OK to open the paths but secateurs are necessary to get the really thick briars. Very little rubbish to collect.

  70. 18 August 1993
    Usual summer round, pruning brambles and bracken from paths and cutting regrowth from laurel stumps. Rhodo root, by the Gregsons' fence in upper part of lower half of wood, needs cutting back because I cannot dig it up.

  71. 19 August 1993
    Took Ann Butler to the wood. Bit of pruning of brambles. Cut rhodo root by the Gregsons' fence. Chatted to dog-walker, ?Ron, vegetarian, who has seen green and spotted woodpeckers, nuthatches, tree creepers, fox and roe deer. This at about 7am walking his dog!

  72. 11 September 1993
    Quick round. Cut regrowth from laurel stumps. Many still sprouting vigorously, although a few seem to be dying. Started to rain. Sheltered in porch of house opposite until it stopped. Asked permission from middle-aged resident first! Not much growing in top half of wood. Too wet and not enough time to do much anyway.

  73. 15 September 1993
    Cut some brambles by the Gregsons' fence near the remaining live laurel stumps. This bramble patch is spreading. I "unearthed" a few sweet chestnut seedlings and small saplings, also 1 or 2 little oaks. Moved oak seedling which was growing in moss on a very old stump in top half of the wood. Planted it in "empty" area where most of the rhododendrons were. Very little pruning needed on paths in top half of the wood. Watered replanted oak seedling with standing water in the base of a forked beech tree by the Gregsons' fence in lower half of the wood using plastic bag! Surprisingly, the soil was quite dry when I dug down to plant the oak even after all the rain we have had.

  74. 10 October 1993
    Quick round after John and I had gone on the "COMBAT" march (against proposed waste tip at Corfe Mullen - Beacon Hill brick works). Little regrowth on the laurel stumps by the Gregsons' fence. Planted 3 acorns from our oak tree in front garden around little holly tree near laurel stumps. Bracken dying down in top half of the wood. No brambles growing now. Picked off laurel stump regrowth.

  75. 23 October 1993
    Not many shoots to remove from laurel stumps by the Gregsons' fence. Pruned some laurel regrowth from the hedge on the other side where there is a pile of Maritime pine logs from a dead tree that was cut down about a year or so ago.
    Planted lots of acorns and scattered some more. John planted a large number at bottom end of wood near the Gregsons' house where the one surviving oak seedling I planted a few years ago still remains. I planted some more on the slope nearby and more in the area of the laurel stumps by Mr Gregson's fence. 2 lots more in area where dead Maritime pine was on the other side of the wood. Planted more at the rear end of the wood and a few in the area of the Rowan tree that is up against the "new" fence belonging to one of the "new luxury-style executive homes" on the estate of similar homes at rear of the wood. Planted a fair number in the top north-east corner of the wood where pine trees have either been cut down or were blown down! Some beside "main" path north-east end and some alongside internal path at north-east end of wood. Heard green woodpecker!

  76. 28 October 1993
    Scattered more acorns in areas where leaves fall and in undergrowth of brambles.

  77. 28 November 1993
    Quick round. Not much growing. Did find 1 small rhodo root near Mr Faulkner's fence. Also the pile of garden rubbish on Mr Faulkner's side of the fence is harbouring some live rhodo roots. Must be sure they don't spread back into the wood! Mr Gregson's gardener has chucked a load of fallen leaves into wood so I spread them about a bit. This on slope beneath beech tree. Some hollies have berries on them.

  78. 29 November 1993
    Pruned brambles on footpaths at top half of the wood. Saw 1 or 2 robins foraging. Found a small rhodo root which I pulled up. Cut back rhodo stem in Mr Faulkner's pile of garden rubbish. Too tough to pull out. Cleared undergrowth from a struggling little oak tree in top half of the wood. The brambles and bracken had made it lean right over! Finished just before the rain started in earnest!

  79. 6 December 1993
    Sprinkled Field Maple seeds around the wood.

  80. 7 December 1993
    Ditto as yesterday.

  81. 9 December 1993
    Ditto as above. No trees down after stormy weather. Mr Gregson's gardener chucked hessian sacks along with fallen leaves over his fence. Unearthed due to winds! I chucked the sacks back - we want the leaves!

  82. 21 December 1993
    Cut the laurel regrowth - very little - from stumps by Mr Gregson's fence. One or two people cutting holly for Xmas. Pruned the paths at top half of the wood. The ash tree by Mr Faulkner's fence which was planted by the Woodland Trust has a few seeds on this year, I think for the first time.
  83. 14 January 1994
    Quick round, not much regrowth in anything. A week ago, the path along the rear fences was under water according to ?Ron with elderly black dog. He says there are jackdaws around, also regularly sees greater spotted woodpeckers in the morning.

  84. 9 February 1994
    Planted little oak tree that I had given to Mum Palmer some time ago. Planted it in top end of the wood in the edge of one of our footpaths away from the shade of pine trees. Found a laurel root at bottom end of the wood near gate sprouting about 18" of growth! Found a large laurel seedling near where I planted the oak tree. John tried to pull it up but it broke off at the root. Cut the very little regrowth on laurel stumps near Mr Gregson's fence. Quick round at top half. Nothing growing yet. Daffodils coming up. Gave them some "VITAX Q4" which I had also fed the oak tree that I planted. Mr Gregson's gardener is busy landscaping the garden. He has pruned the laurel clump at bottom end of the wood. John pruned some laurel along the border with Mr Jessop's property. Not enough to bring him out to complain!

  85. 20 March 1994
    Trimmed laurel hedge by the Gregsons' at bottom end of the wood. Mr Gregson's gardener had hacked away at this laurel earlier so I had to tidy it up - but I only had my small secateurs. Very little regrowth on laurel stumps further up - so not much to cut here. Also not much growth around top half of the wood yet, although the bracken is beginning to shoot up. "Ena's oak" still OK. Came face to face with the black, fairly tame rabbit which has been seen in the wood by ?Ron (with elderly, black dog). Must be an escaped pet. Much calling by green woodpecker. Rowans are sprouting well now and the American redcurrants are in flower in top half of the wood where there are a few ex-garden plants not far away from Mr Faulkner's garden. Since Mr Gregson has had his laurel clump slashed, a small conker tree has come into its own and is busy sprouting. Found and pulled up a couple of rhodo roots (small) and many laurel seedlings in top half of the wood.

  86. 25 March 1994
    Sprinkled some "VITAX Q4" on surviving daffodils on the slope below beech tree.

  87. 27 March 1994
    Sprinkled more "VITAX Q4" on the daffodils. Also on "Ena's oak" and the tiny, wee oak seedling that I had moved from the old moss-covered tree stump to the "Empty Quarter" (where the rhodos were) on 15 September last. Cut laurel and removed stumps, where possible, at the front of the wood next to the Gregsons' fence. The laurel clump is now in a single line on the wood side and I can now push my bike through the space beside the front fence. Trimmed some regrowth of laurel at top end of the wood (east side, where the small oak and 2 silver birches are - I had originally cut this laurel back on 17 October 1992)
    The east-side laurel hedge in the top half of the wood needs severe pruning. It is too tall and I cannot do it!

  88. 9 April 1994
    Quick round, no work, bad weather in the form of heavy showers for the last un-remembered number of days! Apparently a bit of Mr Gregson's fence came down - a side bit, I think, as it was now propped up with posts. The ash tree buds are still tightly closed but the one in our garden has unfolding flower buds on it. Some of the oak buds are starting to swell.

  89. 1 May 1994
    Cut regrowth from laurel stumps by Mr Gregson's fence. Not much to cut. Spring pruning round of the top half footpaths. Much growth of bracken to remove. Watered "Ena's oak" which is coming into leaf. Much rabbit scratchings! A "heaving" pine tree has been cut down near east-side laurel hedge. Lots of birds singing! Somebody has dumped piles of topsoil, roots etc. in the dip by Mr Faulkner's fence (the "Panhandle"!) and Mr Gregson's rear fence. I don't think it is Mr Faulkner as the very rough footpath into the centre of the wood from this area has been well used recently and smoothed out! At least it is only soil.

  90. 25 May 1994
    Spring pruning round of laurel stumps by the Gregsons' fence and the top half of the wood footpaths. Funny smells in top right (north-east) corner of the wood appears to be coming from under the pile of rotting pine logs. I have noticed the smell for ages...I thought it was rotting dead animal but I'm told it smells like gas! I think I could smell a similar but weaker smell under a nearby pile of logs as well. "Ena's oak" near the original log pile looks sick. Leaves appear to have been eaten by something. Somebody has cut a branch of laurel down to ground level at bottom end of the wood by the Gregsons' front garden where I cut back the laurel a couple of months ago. Now the gap into the wood is much wider than footpath size! Mr Gregson has pruned a young beech tree in his garden and dumped the wood over "our" side. Many birds singing. The wood feels as though it is now under the flight path to and from Hurn (now Bournemouth International Airport!)

  91. 10 July 1994
    Much pruning needed doing from the laurel stumps by the Gregsons' fence and paths in top half of the wood. "Ena's oak" is still alive. It must have produced new leaves. I think slugs must have eaten the "old" ones. More soil and lots of stones dumped in the "Panhandle" dip by Mr Faulkner's fence. Many new oak seedlings which we planted and/or scattered last autumn are coming up, these mostly in area below laurel stumps by the Gregsons' fence. Warm and sunny today. The wood is very dry.

  92. 24 July 1994
    Usual summer pruning round as last time. The wood is very dry and weather hot! Pruned bracken and brambles around small deciduous trees. Watered "Ena's oak". A small amount of soil and stones have again been dumped in the "panhandle" Cut some small branches of mature beech trees that overhung small beech trees and 1 little ash tree by the Gregsons' fence in lower half of the wood to let in a bit more light and to allow them to grow. There are 3 ash trees in top half of the wood. 2 planted by Woodland Trust by Mr Faulkner's boundary and 1 is "self planted", I believe. All 3 are beginning to droop due to lack of water. I originally thought there were only 2 ash trees in this part of the wood. Heard green woodpecker and maybe a short drumming by Great Spotted Woodpecker. Removed 3 pieces of laurel in hedge by the Gregsons' to give more space to small beech trees near road end of the wood.

  93. 25 July 1994
    Cleared John's east laurel hedge clippings from yesterday. Chucked them into the hedge. Much more pruning to this hedge needs doing especially near lower end and at ground level, also beyond our reach in the top half of the wood. A dog walker tells me he has seen a fox cub in the wood.

  94. 30 July 1994
    Took 4 bin-liners of grass from our cut "meadows" and sprinkled the cuttings around the lower half of the wood. Maybe some seeds might sprout on the sterile-looking ground. We pruned some more of the east laurel hedge including a couple of large branches which were cut down as they were overhanging the wood. Watered "Ena's oak". There appears to be quite a number of ?fox-holes now in the wood including one near "Ena's oak". Heard green woodpecker.

  95. 1 August 1994
    Took a bin-liner not quite full of our "meadow" grass and sprinkled it as before. Continued pruning east laurel hedge.

  96. 9 August 1994
    More or less finished the pruning of the east laurel hedge. 2 or 3 rhododendrons are in this hedge! Cleared brambles and some holly around the little trees near the Gregsons' fence (beeches, oaks and sweet chestnuts). Painful long job! Watered "Ena's oak". Cut regrowth on laurel stumps by the Gregsons' fence. I believe somebody has nicked an oak seedling I had marked with branches in the top half of the wood. Maybe this sort of heinous crime has happened before! The nice, friendly dog-walker ?Ron (black dog with miniature barrel on his collar) tells me:-
    He has seen a "large" smooth snake in the wood and that Mr Gregson had driven a "Landrover" into the wood. That is why my cut entrance by Mr Gregson's laurel hedge had been widened from footpath size to vehicle size! This was done because he was cutting concrete slabs in order to re-erect his fallen fence.

  97. 12 August 1994
    Lady with 2 dogs says she saw a grass snake by the fence at the top end of the wood! Maybe this is what ?Ron (with black bitch, "Sheba") saw and not a smooth snake. Cut the bracken and brambles on the paths in the top half of the wood. Heard green woodpecker and saw some jays. Watered "Ena's oak".

  98. 25 August 1994
    Usual summer round of pruning. Not too much to do this time. Black rabbit was in company with a wild rabbit but the former has a wonky ear! Also it is not as agile as its wild cousin. There is a prominent smell of dogs' urine in the wood.

  99. 12 September 1994
    Very quick pruning round as the weather suddenly deteriorated into rain! Not much growing now anyway.

  100. 9 October 1994
    Very quick round. Nothing much growing now so hardly any pruning. Weather has been sunny for the last few days!

  101. 17 November 1994
    Not much growing except laurel seedlings and a couple of rhododendron seedlings in the top half of the wood. I removed those I could see but I had to cut one of the laurels as it was too big. Picked off regrowth from laurel stumps by the Gregsons' fence. Not much regrowth now. I think some of these stumps are dying at last! Mr Gregson's gardener has chucked their fallen beech leaves into the wood as usual. No problem, they will improve the soil in the wood and I kicked them around to spread the "load". Jays heard.

  102. 22 December 1994
    Quick round in freezing cold sunny weather. Nothing much growing - a few small bits of regrowth on laurel stumps by the Gregsons' fence. I distribute a couple of piles of leaves that Mr Gregson's gardener has deposited over the fence. Evidence of deer scratching on rotten logs. 3 dog walkers come and go while I am there including the vegan, Ron and "Sheba".

          BRACKEN CUTTING 1992

                    Day     Running
DATE      J     R    Total  Total    Days   Rate
Apr 12   300   500   800       800      1     -
Apr 17    -    700   700     1,500      5    140
Apr 23   700   800  1500     3,000     11    250
Apr 29  1000  1060  2060     5,060     17    343
May 2    860   656  1516     6,576     20    505
May 5    740   700  1440     8,016     23    480
May 9   1350   720  2070    10,086     27    517
May 10   222   376   598    10,684     28    598
May 14  1000    -   1000    11,684     32    250
May 17  1611   880  2491    14,175     35    830
May 20  1020   250  1270    15,445     38    423
May 21   700   480  1180    16,625     39   1180
May 24  1151   650  1801    18,426     42    600
May 25   471   180   651    19,077     43    651
May 27   613   260   873    19,950     45    436
May 31  1000   470  1470    21,420     49    367
Jun 28    -   1386  1386    22,806     77
Jun 29  1106   700  1806    24,612     78

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