Funny how these things happen. I was chatting to a neighbour called Mike the other day and he mentioned that his ‘pension’ was a small 4 acre woodland he had bought as an investment some years ago and which he was now actively managing. “What type of woodland?” I asked him, “mostly Ash, Hazel, Birch, Chestnut and Sycamore with Hawthorn and Blackthorn hedges, it hasn’t been touched for years” he said. “I am gradually bringing it back into a good state, opening it up to let light in and getting rid of the rubbish like the self sown Ash and Sycamore which are choking out the good stuff”. He was obviously excited about it and it made me wish I had a woodland of my own. “I’ve learnt so much about trees that I never knew before” he said “and I am quite good at coppicing Hazel now too”.
It was when he said “coppicing Hazel”, that my ears really pricked up and I thought of all those lovely bean poles and pea-sticks. And sure enough, he offered me as much coppiced material as I wanted – delivered to the door, free of charge. “Glad to get rid of it” he said. What a bloke. Mike, my new best friend!
I have never woven hazel supports before but have often admired them in ‘posh’ gardens and thought how natural they look, much better than bamboo canes and string. I paid a lot of money for rusty steel supports at Malvern last year and they are unobtrusive but somehow I like the simplicity of Hazel even better. I have yet to find out if my ham-fisted attempt at weaving them together is going to work!
This tall Knautia macedonica is particularly floppy and can grow 1.5m high so it needs good support for it’s waving stems and dark red flower heads. I know it looks a bit rough and ready at the moment but in a few weeks it will all be hidden by foliage. It’s like an old fashioned ladies wired underskirt keeping everything where it should be!