The Friends of Haddon Wood

Everything interesting we can think of about Alhampton's community woodland. To leave a comment on a post, click on its title and scroll down…


Leave a comment

A Patchwork catch up…

So, apart from my post of 4th October, it’s been a while since I was here on the blog. A couple of years, in fact. How’ve you been? Look, I don’t have any excuses other than that life – including hands-on HW-related activities – has got in the way, but now, galvanised by firstly, a couple of nice comments on this blog and secondly, a well-deserved kick up the pants from fellow committee members, here we are again.

I won’t write a full, chronological history of events for the last couple of years, because you’ve either already had the newsy emails from Hil (if you’re on her Friends of… list), or, if you’ve got the energy, can look up our meeting minutes under ‘FHW Committee’ and despite my dereliction, our main events have been written up here,  such as Open Gardens (and we didn’t have one of those last year, because Ditcheat wanted to have one and thought the two would clash, so some of our people helped them with that in exchange for a donation to our coffers). Instead I thought I’d take the opportunity to look both back to see what has been achieved so far and forward to let you know about things, hopefully, in the pipeline.

So, Haddon Wood has been standing for six years now and what was once five fields with thousands of tiny sticks in plastic tubes, surrounded by a variety of dodgy wire fencing and rusty gates, is now a proper wood, some of the trees more than twenty feet high, threaded through with numerous winding grass paths to make the walking more interesting. The wire and original gates have gone and been replaced by smart wooden five-barred jobs with generous kissing gates attached. We’ve had to put up excessive amounts of signage on these, but not everyone has the same ethos, so it has been felt better to have the odd reminder of what the place is about and on the whole it’s been worth it. We’ve even got dog poo bins at a couple of those (we didn’t want to have to, but the dog poo situation seems to have improved since they were installed, so, hey ho).

We have to follow a few Woodland Trust rules in the way we do things, but we’ve got certified people on the team to carry out general maintenance, like brushcutting and Mark has continued mowing, which I always think is the thing that has made the biggest difference to the look and feel of the land – borne out by the ever increasing number of dog walkers. Added to that we’ve had monthly events dedicated to the removal of the plastic tubes – which don’t split, as advertised and/or biodegrade and in some cases were making the trees rot. It’s amazing how many pile up by the paths after a couple of hours with just half a dozen people working, quite often kept going by supplies of coffee and homemade cake. Not only that, but a team that used to work on local footpaths has given their Friday mornings to de-tubing and the difference is phenomenal. We might even be tube-free by Christmas! When we’ve got enough, we load up Mark’s truck and take them to a local place to be burnt for energy. Not ideal, you may think, but a lot better than landfill, which would be the alternative.

What else? Along the way we’ve had to have conversations about Risk Assessments, Insurances and various trainings, including First Aid, so in a way it’s amazing we’re still  at it, but even so, you’ll have seen the two picnic benches and smaller perch-on ones dotted about too (built by Mark), which were put in a few years ago now, but have you seen the willow teepee and dead hedge in F2? A snow ignloo appeared on site a winter or two ago and whether or not that was her inspiration for something more lasting, Jo found a local woman who holds willow workshops, so she and Rose spent a few hours with Angela Morley (https://www.wildgardens.co.uk) learning how to make them and a few more ornamental bits and pieces that may join our list of merchandise in the future. …as possibly will walking sticks, as and when he has time away from his real job, made by another local resident from material he finds in the wood.

Actually, with the mention of merchandising, this might be an opportune moment to bring up fundraising which we’ve been doing from the start, with a view to taking a lease on the wood (in 2013 the Woodland Trust was almost insistent that we did) and the expenses that would have entailed. A few years later and policy has apparently changed, so we no longer have that pressure and are sitting on a reasonable amount in the bank and lately one or two volunteers have been asking what the fundraising has been for after all their hard work.

It’s got us all thinking and our main priority, after keeping everything as user friendly and appealing as we can, is using the space to help the wildlife there – there’s nothing lovlier than to see the barn owl skimming the trees, or broods of chicks on the pond, or more gratifying, the hordes of frogs and toads doing what frogs and toads to in ponds in the Spring – so it seemed an obvious next step to look into installing hives for wild bees. It’s not something the Woodland Trust has done before, but with a bit of nagging from us they’ve agreed that we can go ahead. Matt Somerville of BeeKindHives who was at our Open Day, is going to instal two log hives as soon as he has the materials and time.

A long-term hope is to build on the community aspect of the wood and with that in mind that it can one day be used for Forest School work, so almost our last (for the moment) project for the immediate future is putting a roundhouse somewhere, probably in F2. Maybe you’ve seen the sort of thing – a five metre circular structure with a pointed hat-shaped roof, part open to the elements for both fresh air and the view, that a classroom’s worth of children can sit in to learn whatever it is Forest Schools do. This would, of course be subject to the usual permissions from the Woodland Trust and our local planning department and is unlikely to be straightforward, but watch this space and one day we might all be amazed. Oh, and the ‘almost’ I mentioned above is that a logical extension to such a facility would be a composting loo, so we’re looking into having one of those too.

Who would have thought, six years ago, that we’d be where we are now, but the wood has taken on a life of it’s own and all we can do is stay with it and go forward…

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes…

Nick sowing

Well, there have been lots, in the wood, since my last post, but this one is about our FHW Committee, or specifically, one member of it.

To cut a long story short, Nick Truman announced at our AGM that he just doesn’t have as much time any more to devote to Haddon things and reluctantly, would have to stand down from the committee. We equally reluctantly accepted. What else could we do? We’ve been so lucky that such a disparate, but oddly compatible group of people, no more than thrown together in the early days, has stayed and worked well together since the beginning, in 2013.

…trying not to cover himself in bitumen

Looking through our hundreds of photographs, I haven’t managed to come up with many starring Nick, but to assume that he wasn’t around much would be wrong. He’s been as involved as any of us from planting to installing Mary’s bench, to brushcutting, sowing Yellow Rattle, chainsawing fallen hedgerow trees (in the days when it was still allowed), organising car parking at events and not least, planning and supervising the planting of our orchard. I think the main reason there isn’t much photographic evidence is that our snappers have tended to home in on the more photogenic junior branch of the family, Amy, who has been almost as big a part of Haddon Wood as her father. Nick, we’ll miss you- and Amy – even it we do save a fortune on snacks for our meetings.

 

What this means, of course, is that we have a vacancy and if you, or anyone you know, would like to become more hands on in the management of Haddon, please either comment below, or message us on our FaceBook page and one of us will contact you directly with more details of what to expect.


Leave a comment

Alhampton Open Gardens 18 June 2017

With any luck we’ll have good weather for the Open Gardens this Sunday, 18th June.

Alhampton_Open_Gardens_2017_in_aid_of_Haddon_Wood.jpgThis year there’ll actually be nine for you to see for your £5 entry fee (one has had to drop out for personal reasons) including Charles Dowding’s famous organic veg and Gert Schley’s organic everything – both back by popular demand – and a potpourri(!) of others from Paul Nicholls’ classically immaculate garden to Jinny and Stephen Wessel’s wonderful, free-flowing mixed borders and endless variety of spaces.

Our usual delicious teas, with something to suit most dietary requirements, will be available at a couple of locations along the route – why not sample both?!

Free, attended parking will be in the Chapel field off the first bend in No Through Road (look on your satnav for BA4 6PZ)). Incidentally this is the best access point, via the orchard – on this day at least – for the wood itself if you want to have a picnic on one of our two benches, or have the energy to take a stroll and see how it’s coming along.

£5 entry tickets will be at the Tin Chapel, by the entrance to the car park.

Gardens Open from 1.00pm – 5.00pm

Proceeds in aid of Haddon Wood.


1 Comment

We have Yellow Rattle!

Of the three elements the community requested be included in the wood, together with the orchard and the pond, the third is the hardest to achieve. Wild flowers don’t thrive on rich soil and we knew it wouldn’t be easy to establish colonies because the site has been used for stock grazing and silage for so long that the grass is just that. Of course we have got native species already – things like buttercup, clover and vetch – but the quantities of seed we sowed on the disturbed soil on the southern end of the pond flourished only that season, with one or two exceptions.

So, the answer, apparently, is to sow Yellow Rattle, to weaken the grass. We’ve done that a couple of times, along the hedgerow on the north side of F3 and either side of the eastern path in F2 – See the Gallery post, in the link above – but for the last couple of years have let things be to see what would happen, barring the odd grass cut to knock down any seed that was hanging on.

We’ve pretty much been told that we’re wasting our time, as the richness of the clay will override any partial effects the rattle might have, but bless it, even in the areas we didn’t oversow, it’s been back every year. It’s even appeared round the north end of the pond – I think, on its own – which completely bears out the poor soil theory, so there we are. It just goes to show that nature is a very determined thing.


Leave a comment

A date for your diaries!

It’s that time again – Alhampton Open Gardens is coming up fast – come and look around this year’s selection on Sunday 12th June, see how Haddon Wood is progressing, check out the photographic display in the Chapel and then recover with a cup of tea and piece of cake.

Parking this year will be in the Orchard field behind the Chapel in No Through Road and tickets (including map), available this year from the Chapel itself. BA4 6PZ.

Open Gardens poster 2016