October 04

It seems a long time since I last wrote a report. Sorry! But what a summer it has been. I can hardly complain about a drought. The rain has given the best chance to the new trees because the first year is always the most difficult while new roots are settling in.

Karin and I checked the tree numbers and species, starting with the Oat Field trees, which are now in their second summer. They are truly amazing. Some are over 7ft tall, and of several species: Wild Service Tree, Oak and Silver Birch being the most notable. Goat Willows and Sea Buckthorn are bulking up and spreading beautifully. There have been a few deaths across the field, inevitably, but it is still only a total of just over 7% of those planted.

It is not such a good survival rate in Rye Field, the most recently planted field. Despite the rain to help the new tree roots, the ground is in less good condition than Oat Field because it has been under grass for so long. Consequently I have to report with a little disappointment that nearly 10% have died so far. Surprisingly Dogwood and Goat Willow, that did so well in Oat Field, have not done so well in Rye Field. They may yet sprout out from the roots next spring, so all is not lost. Alder Buckthorn and Guelder Rose have taken very well, and last year they were probably the least successful species. Every Hornbeam has survived, as well as nearly every Wayfaring Tree. The one native Black Poplar is doing well.

The ponds have been well filled all summer, but very little vegetation has yet taken to Corner Pond, which is nearly two years old. The newest ponds have no vegetation at all except for the dreaded thistles that are coming up everywhere.

All I need now is a week of dry weather. Weedkiller will then be spread across Big Field to kill the thistles. And in due course the plough will break down the soil ready for planting this winter. Hoping for not too much more rain so the ground will be in good condition for Planting Weekend in December.