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Mapping the Oaks III - Tree reasons why ancient oaks survived the felling of ancient forests in Britain

Mapping the Oaks II

Interpretation:I recently picked up the notion from a colleague that if hazel was the tree of the 'common people', oak could be thought of as a tree of the land owning upper class; I think she said the "filthy rich", but land ownership seems to be the key precis here; I'd not thought of trees in class related terms before, but a most valid point to consider. In times when timber was at the heart of all life in Britain every twig of a tree would have served purpose; although 'small wood' from managed coppice woodland was possibly of equal or greater value than large timber trees. 

I've heard of a character, once operating in Uffmoor Wood, Halesowen, named 'Line prop Joe', who made line props and sold them to the people of Halesowen and Cradley in the 1940's and 50's. The wood was closed to the public recently by its current owner the Woodland Trust because of anti social behaviour, involving sex, dogs and drugs, it's almost rock '…

Mapping the Oaks I

Birmingham is regarded as a surprisingly green city, so much so that it boasts the title as Britain's only Biophillic city.
This Guardian article explains why -
https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2014/apr/03/birmingham-san-francisco-oslo-global-green-biophilic-cities-club















The City and its suburbs, especially to the south and west, seems to emerge from the canopy, or maybe, yet somewhat romantically, sinking into the inevitable reclaiming of nature. For sure the trees are often spoken of in terms of nuisance and liability, but also protected vigourously and energetically, with thousands planted every year by organisations such as Trees For Cities, Trees For Life, Forest Schools Birmingham and virtually all the Parks' Friends groups.

A city of trees
Many street trees were planted in the 19th and early 20th Century and as such are nearing the end of their unnatural lives. Limes, Planes and Poplars were planted along major routes in a bid to absorb the rising city pollutants. Many hav…

"a bad plant": A perspective.

How absurd, the idea that a plant is anything other than a life giving, life preserving entity, the essence of life, without which there is no life.

Richard Mabey provides a terrific account in 'A Cabaret of Plants' (BOTANY AND THE IMAGINATION) PROFILE BOOKS 2015.

And whilst many of us celebrate plants intensely and joyously, some are preoccupied with total disdain towards certain species; the 'Triffid syndrome' might be applied here as a concept approaching an 'irrational fear leading to a concern that certain plants will, if left to their own devises, consume human babies'.

A few local 'triffids' are evident at this time of year, notably Japanese Knotweed, Himalayan Balsam and the most recent traveller, Giant Hogweed.


Our friendly hog, Heracleum sphondylium, seems to be an accepted plant at the edge of river, woodland or meadow, but is often reported as 'Giant' because of its ability to grow up to 2 metres. But THE Giant, Heracleum mantegazzianum

A walk in the park (in progress)

Highbury Park features somewhat disproportionatley in the 'Rea Valley Woodland Consultation' Blog, two reasons, one it's close to home and work and two it's interesting, that might be three, but nevertheless it's a fascinating area with lots going on almost everyday, and there are enough landscape features combined with a geographical declivity to make it seem much larger than it is; a park of many 'corners', thanks to Milner's 19th century landscape design and this, together with a mixed arrangement of Park's management additions, changes, abandonment, cut backs and nature improvement, thanks to volunteers, Friends, Rangers and the B&BCWT NIA funding, makes it an intriguing subject.
http://www.bbcwildlife.org.uk/NIA

Author and journalist Barbara Copperthwaite also has much to say about the area in her blog -https://www.gobewild.co.uk/wild-blog Great photos accompanying.





Every now and again, I dawdle the time away, sauntering nonchalantly with no a…

Outdoor and walking therapy and the like - a 21st century phenomena

The 'rural idyl', a 'pastoral' setting, 'rus in urbe', 'an escape to the countryside', 'village bliss';illusional and nostalgic concepts maybe, and the ideas were hopelessly romanticised by artists during the 18th and 19th centuries, offering a modicom of hope to those in 'dark satanic mills', and yet it seems that in the 21st century, urban dwellers have never before met with a greater need to escape the pressures and stresses of city living, to wallow in that little parcel of "green and pleasant land", to cast aside the tumult of daily anxiety, if only for a while.

In reality of course the masses are 'permitted only' to view the great green expanse, look but don't touch, 'private', keep out, keep to the footpath, no right of way, 'beware of the bull' (there's still a sign to this effect near Bordesley Station, once a cattle station), and here I'm cynical, but thank god we have portions of li…

Ecotones and Succession = TENSION

The term 'ecotone' cropped up this week as a Tree Officer colleague and I looked at Holders Woods in an exercise to describe the woodland structure, composition and current management.
The word ecotone was coined from a combination of eco(logy) plus -tone, from the Greek tonos or tension – in other words, a place where ecologies are in tension. (Wiki)

Ecotones are generally recognised for ecological richness and a good place to observe the 'tensions' and interactions between certain animals and plants.

A woodland edge for example is often regarded as the richest part of a woodland, especially if the edge is bordered by grassland meadow or water.

The Rea Valley in this regard is a wonderful mix of urban ecosystems and ecotones, and one of my favourite locations is the developing oak woodland at the edge of Holders Woods. Undoubtedly the result of acorn planting Jays, we find oaks ranging from year 1 to year 50, but with a majority of young trees around 10-20 years, sugge…

The time of year

The Time of Year - April-May The 'finest' time of year in fact - the all too brief period from the peep of a snowdrop to the wilting of daffodils - a period of yearning for the end of winter, the slight, but significant lengthening of the day, the Blackbird's early morning regale, a tentative suggestion of comfort and warmth, although frost, wind and rain give frequent reminder of the time of year, changeable weather conditions persist.
Then we think on to the dawn chorus, the first bat night, eyes on the ground, impatiently identifying the meadow plants, inspired by the bluebell displays and talk of bees, hoverflies and the strange  territorial behaviour of our garden and woodland birds.

Springing forward - May 12th - there's talk of drought, but today it rains, "much needed", the gardeners insist - It's raining in Spain too, as George and his school chums head there for a five day football feast. (I miss him already, for the routine daily process of pa…