Strange oak gall

In September I was leading walks in Provence for HF Holidays and spotted this very strange oak gall. It took me ages to identify it as


It’s amazing what a gall wasp can cause to happen.;


Galle du chêne d'Andricus dentimitratus


Oh dear, oh deer

In the winter we coppiced a bay tree (Laurus nobilis), which had rather got out of hand. Some of the wood has been given to a woodworking friend to see if it will turn, it seems a fine grained wood, which smelled rather nice when being cut up. We’re not short of bay leaves for cooking with.

The coppicing has worked, photograph below, but possibly surprisingly the dear like it, even though the young shoots are very aromatic. Half has been heavily browsed, half has escaped. The culprit’s mug shot is below.

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To be, or not to be, (in)

Missed a month because I’ve been away walk leading and on our family holiday, and only one pretty picture, a bee orchid on the Hangers. Back for tomorrow’s EU referendum, which which many people are bored, or confused.

In our opinion, and strictly relating to conservation, bio-diversity and sustainability is that being in the EU has on balance had a positive effect. Better water quality, better protection for migrating birds in southern Europe, and areas near here which have a high level of environmental protection.

SSSIs have no effective protection, and AONBs and national Parks have stronger protection, but less than the EU Special Protection Areas on our doorstep.

Recent UK governments have reduced building standards and tried to privatise the Forestry Authority which would have reduced public access, not demonstrating a great commitment to the environment.

Our biggest threat here is the Chinese owned golf club which wants to build another golf course on unspoilt countryside, immediately reducing bio-diversity. The EU level protection may help us.

Bluebell beauty

Just back from walk leading on the French Riviera where spring is very well advanced and many of the orchids are finished, whereas here the Early-purple orchids are still to be in their full glory.

What a contrast, bluebells here, natural rock gardens there.




“What Katie did”

We were away last week in Dorset when Storm Katie arrived. The sea was impressive.

Not so impressive was the damage in the wood with the top of a maple removed, landing close to the P1060958 P1060959house, and a large ash leaning precariously. We will now to have to find time to chainsaw, saw and lop.  Hopefully the ash will regrow if coppiced or pollarded, although cutting down hanging trees is tricky and needs to be done carefully.



Lots of posts – fence posts that is ..

A tree fell across the fence dividing copse into two parcels. It’s our responsibility to maintain it and I  noticed that many of the posts are rotten. So I have now bought 40  local split sweet chestnut stakes which means a lot of work to knock them in and re-attach the barbed wire.  I have been assured that even untreated they will last at least 10 years. This afternoon we managed to do about 10 posts so good progress made.


Snakes alive!!

Well not real snakes, but our Snake’s Head Fritillaries (Fritillaria meleagris) have healthy flower buds.

Depending on the weather they could be flowering this month instead of April – is this a record?

Frozen fungi

Nice frozen veg. Not sure which fungus.




Evergreen hazel – whatever next!

Starting coppicing yesterday I noticed that the bluebell leaves were quite well advanced. However I was even more surprised to see some hazel which has not lost their leaves over the winter. Whether they will drop after last night’s frost, and if so what that will do for development, I do not know.


Quick sharp for the New Year

After chain sawing some dry oak the chain saw is now in need of some sharpening. I have the kit to work on my trusty Stihl and it will be back to it’s best for some winter tree work – assuming I get all the angles right.

Some of the oak was planed by wood designer / maker Colin Norgate ( for friends for them to mount their slate house name plate. Should last a few years.