Way back in 2012 the newly formed Blyth Woods group, together with the Commons Group and children from Wenhaston School, helped Suffolk Wildlife Trust to plant a Community Orchard/Nuttery of 29 trees at Merton Wood. The trees have not flourished as we had hoped they would and so we invited Paul Read of the Suffolk Traditional Orchards Group, to visit and give some advice on ways forward with the orchard. It seems that the main problem is probably that the trees originally planted did not have a suitably vigorous rootstock to grow well in grassland. Last Saturday we started to prepare for interplanting the existing trees with some that have a rootstock that should create stronger growth. Eight trees should be arriving soon from a specialist nursery and so on Saturday we cleared the grass from small patches of ground and pre-dug the planting holes to give these new trees a good start.
The existing trees have not been abandoned. The grass around their trunks has been cleared for a one metre circle and they have been given a good straw mulch. We hope that this will encourage them to produce some fruit while the new trees are growing.
From the beginning of February there will be a treasure trail of wild and wonderful natural creations left along the footpaths of Grove Woods (the new umbrella name for Vicarage Grove, Grove Piece and Malster’s Little Field).
The Blyth Woods Group invite you to add your own.
Use anything you can find in the local surroundings, such as twigs, leaves, pebbles, feathers or dead moss, and leave it to the side of one of the paths. (Don’t use anything alive and growing.) If it’s easiest, bring your chosen pieces home and assemble them there first.
It doesn’t have to be perfect. From a toddler’s offering to your own, it’s just an acknowledgement and celebration that, as we struggle on during this bleak time, nature survives. The seasons will surely turn and spring’s not far behind.
We’ll post photographs of the most striking creations here on our website and in the next issue of the Warbler.
Vicarage Grove is the area of ancient woodland that adjoins Grove Piece and Malster’s Little Field, as shown on this map. It contains some lovely trees, is beautiful with Bluebells in May and has an unusually high number of breeding Blue Tits.
Vicarage Grove is owned by Wenhaston Town Estate Church Charity and in recent years has been managed by Wenhaston Commons Group. We have assisted them in the last year or so and from January 1st this year we are taking over the management responsibility. We have negotiated a “right to occupy” Vicarage Grove for the purpose of “planting, maintaining and managing the woodland” and the agreement was signed in time to start with the new year.
We have already agreed a management plan with the owners, so later this year we should be able to get started on some of the most important tasks.
We are very grateful to the Church Charity for this opportunity which means that we will be able to manage the whole area, Grove Piece, Malster’s Little Field and Vicarage Grove in a unified way.
One of the first things we need to do will be to find out as much as we can about the present flora and fauna. If you would like to help with this work, please contact any of the steering group.
It was cold, wet and windy this morning when four of us went to plant trees in the community orchard at Merton Wood. However, it was remarkably enjoyable to be out doing something positive for the future. The boundary hedge of the orchard had a gap which we filled with dog rose, hawthorn and dog wood. We also planted some standard trees, an oak, some wild cherry and crab apple to one side of the hedge. In the main orchard we planted a wild service tree to add variety to the fruiting trees.
If you would like to spend some time planting trees or managing woods please get in touch.
The Community Orchard in Merton Wood was planted in 2012 by Wenhaston Commons Group, Blyth Woods and Suffolk Wildlife Trust. The trees have not flourished as we had hoped they would and so we invited Paul Read of the Suffolk Traditional Orchards Group, to visit and give some advice on ways forward with the orchard. We will be talking over the options in the near future to work out the best plan of action.
The restoration of the pond in Malster’s Little Field is underway. Over the years ponds become shaded by trees and vegetation, silt accumulates and reduces the depth of the pond, plants take root in the shallow water and rotting vegetation changes the profile of the water. So we have removed some trees that were shading the area, the digger gouged out a lot of silt and nutrient rich mud which has been spread on tree planting areas and habitat piles have been made with the willow trees that were growing in the pond. It has left a large space for water to fill on top of the clay which lines the bottom of the pond. It will be very interesting to see what moves into the pond and takes up residence over the next year. One area beside the pond has been left without silt to keep it more suitable for flora that prefers less nutrient rich soil, so watch that space!
To get the best regeneration please keep dogs out of the pond . They disturb wildlife and water clarity and can destroy delicate plant colonies. In addition the chemical treatments used to control fleas and ticks on dogs also washes off in ponds and kills the microorganisms which the pond ecosystem depends upon. Something to bear in mind.