Yew’ll enjoy these draining days off in the meadow.

I’ve had a very busy week at home with my grown up children.  Some of the highlights were SSSI wild flower meadows (above). Finishing a yew draining borad, visiting Saltaire – again (still good), getting lots of bike advice, cooking and eating, drinking beer from Saltaire, Ilkley, Rose Cottage and Belgium.  And, of course, le tour de France!

The Wild flower meadow is at the site of the fever hospital between Grassington and Hebden in North Yorkshire.  It is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest because it is a now rare example of the diverse flora that used to grow in hay meadows, now sadly almost all blown away by the change by farmers to making silage from mono-cultured perennial rye grass.  There are about 50 species in this meadow, here are some of the ones we spotted from the flagged path through the two fields.

Meadow sweet (the tall white ones), dog daisy, Great Burnet, ribbed plantain.

Buttercup, scabius, red clover, sorrel,  goatsbeard, yellow rattle (seed heads).  The latter is a very interesting plant, as a hemiparasite it attaches itself to the roots of other plants in the meadow to extract nutrients and water.  It prefers to paratise grasses which thus encourages growth of the flowering herbs and suppresses the growth of competing grass.

I’ve also had to get the draining board finished for my son and his wife to take back home to Brooklyn.  We decided to keep it as natural as possible with the draining runnels following the grain like rivers:

It is a beutiful bit of yew, even if it was a challenge to plane.

On the way back from the airport, we called in at Ravenden Wood at Smithills Hall, Bolton.  A clough wood – that is in a steep-sided stream valley, very peaceful after the big city of Manchester and its airport.

Dappling through the beeches

Fine spalting in the stump of a very recently felled beech.

Town and country.

 

 

Death to the trees – huh?

Many people do not appreciate why trees are cut down in managed woodland. From my point of view they are cut down to provide me with raw materials. From an environment perspective they are cut down for the benefit of woodland.

I work in a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a govt. designated area of land where development  and other activities are regulated.

On Monday I will be cutting down trees.  Here are some of them:

These are self-seeded sycamores.  Nothing wrong with that. Except that this is a SSSI.  With a management plan.  This is not wildwood.  There is none in England.  All woodland in England has been managed for hundreds, and in some cases thousands of years (OK more than 1,000 years is thousands – right?)

Strid Wood SSSI is so designated for these reasons:

“Ordnance Survey Sheet 1: 50,000: 104 1: 10,0000: SE 05 NE
First Notified: 1985 (December)
Other Information:

The south-west bank is intensively used for recreation, and nature trails have been set out.
Description:
Strid Wood contains the largest area of acidic oak woodland and the best remnant of oak wood-pasture in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The wood is set astride the River Wharfe which here runs through a deep steep-sided valley cut into Millstone Grit and Carboniferous Limestone.

The southwest bank has been much altered by forestry practice. The native oak Quercus petraea, and ash Fraxinus excelsior are accompanied by plantations of beech Fagus sylvatica, sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus, poplar Populus sp. and conifers such as larch and Douglas fir.
The very edge of the river however remains largely neutral, with elm and alders. Soil conditions on this side of the valley appear less acidic, and the ground flora is rich, with stands of dog’s mercury Mercurialis perennis, ramsons Allium ursinum, sanicle Sanicula europaea and sweet woodruff Asperula odoratum. The uncommon yellow star of Bethlehem Gagea lutea is found here.
The wood is valued by naturalists for its important populations of many groups of plants and animals. There is a rich bryophyte flora, several species being rare of very local in distribution, including Dicranum montanum, Cinclicotus mucronatus, Fissidens rufulus, Nowellia curvifolia and Sphagnum quinquefarium. A wide variety of fungi occur two species Coprinus subpurpureus and Deconica rhombispora, being first British records. Woodland management by selective felling rather than clear-felling has ensured a continuity of tree-cover, and has favoured the growth of a rich lichen-flora: indeed Strid Wood is considered one of the best lichen woods in Yorkshire.
Amongst the most notable species recorded are Arthonia didyma, Thelotrema lepadinum, Cladonia parasitica and Endocarpon pusillum. The wood is also noted for the occurrence of the local molluscs Acanthinula lamellata and Lauria anglica.

Over sixty species of birds have been recorded, forty-four of these breeding, including pied flycatcher, wood warbler and goosander.”

This is the designation by the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs.

OK so, ash and oak are the principal inhabitants, they are being encouraged and the invaders, mainly sycamore and beech are being discouraged (cut down).

Ash in Strid is a prolific generator and if left alone would produce a woodland of over crowded trees.  So what we do is remove some of the weaker trees, so that the small trees can become big healthy trees that will go forward for years (and centuries) to come.

Here are the marked men:

The little ones here are just taking the ground goodness and light away from the larger ash tree at centre right.  So the ones with the green spots will be cut, and the bigger ash will flourish.  This is not wild wood – the trees would be much bigger – it is managed woodland.  Enjoy.

Like the sunset: