Andy's chestnut among area of trees

The ground around the dozen of so trees on the hill behind our house has become overgrown with brambles, nettles and other weeds. The small pond between the trees has silted up with the grit and gravel washed down from the road.  One of these trees, a horse chestnut, "Andy's tree" is of great sentimental value as it is where his ashes are buried.  It was the only one that had routinely been kept clear of the weeds over the years, but on my long list of retirement projects was the restoration of the this small wooded area and pond.

The scythe mower we acquired last year made fairly easy work of clearing the grass, nettles and weeds from the area of the hillside below the lowest line of trees and mowing once or twice a year should be enough to make it into a reasonable meadow. But the lower and drooping branches of the trees and the tangles of brambles made it impossible to use the mower between and around the trees themselves. We would need to remove some of the lower branches, a job for winter.

Arboritum2Feb 2020

Gales andrain delayed us but early in February, when we also had five sapling fruit trees to plant, we finally set to,  "pruned" the trees and cleared the undergrowth beneath them. There are still plenty of brambles to be cleared but now there is access to get the mower in, although before we can mow there is at least one more problem to be over come.

The field is surrounded by dry stone walls which over the years have suffered from motor vehicle damage. Most of it happens in the night and all we see the next day is a damaged wall, stones knocked into the field, a few streaks of paint and sometimes tyre tracks. Other times it is uninsured joy riders, one occasion was like a scene from the keystone cops. Loud crash, abandoned car half up the wall and four youths running down the lane hotly pursued by two policemen. The youths were quickly apprehended.  Only once has someone notified us and provided their insurance details. And then there was also deliberate damage by a local farmer who took it upon himself to demolish sections of the wall, but that is another story.

Damaged wall

Anyway, what all this means is that despite our efforts to patch up the wall there are still numerous stones lying around, some overgrown, most near the wall but some scattered quite widely, which need to be removed before we can begin to mow without fear of accidents or damaging the mower.

We won't clear all the brambles, we will leave some for the wildlife, but we need to get them under control to stop them choking up the trees again. And maybe we'll plant more trees too.