Rejuvenating the tree nursery

After several years of rearing oak trees from local acorns the four beds in the  grounds of Wenhaston Primary School needed some attention. The rotting wooden surrounds were replaced with new wood, the beds were weeded and then topped up with peat-free compost and horse manure. Hopefully the small trees will flourish and be more able to withstand any dry weather. The paths between the beds now have a deep layer of bark  and the nursery is ready for another year of planting and growing.

February 16th 2019 Marie

tree nursery 1Tree nursery2

Wenhaston Village Hall Christmas Bazaar- 8th December 2018


The Blyth Woods’ stand was made ready on the morning of the Bazaar and just as well that it was as excited visitors jumped the 2 o’clock gun making for a frantic start to the event.

We were delighted to have so many people visiting our stand throughout the afternoon and showing an interest in Grove Piece community woodland. Our display board had photographs of the clay day held in October in Grove Piece and there were plenty of excellently sculpted clay products from the event for sale. Chalk sieved from the clay was also available for purchase with a chalk board.

Tree forms from the Grove Piece workshop in September were also displayed and for sale.

Our popular jams, pickles and chutneys flew off the shelves and the “Guess the number of holly leaves in the jar” competition drew in many punters in the hope of winning a Christmas hamper. Well done to our winner, Trish Gower. Lots of sympathy was expressed for Marie who had the task of filling the jar with the holly leaves and is still feeling the effects in her damaged fingers – that’s what happens when you come up with a good idea!

A good time was had by all, especially Father Christmas(who didn’t look a day older than last year) and his Fairy helper and we say thank you to all those who visited our stand and generously contributed to our charity.

Merry Christmas and we look forward to seeing you in Grove Piece in 2019!

Ian Bigwood

New Trees at Grove Piece

After a few days of  November rain that had started to fill the recently dug pond, the sun came out for a Blyth Woods work party to plant more trees at Grove Piece. A red admiral was spotted soaking up the sunshine.
A selection of natives including crab apple, alder, spindle and small leaf lime were lined up to replace some trees that hadn’t made it through the scorching summer weather.  We soon discovered that quite a few that had been marked as dead had come back to life – they had shut down during the drought.  To allow the young trees, planted over the last two years, to develop strongly and well shaped, tree guards were removed from the robust and bushy ones.
It was time to check and clean out the nest boxes and we were excited to see that most of them had been used.  One box had been filled with dry grass and an acorn so other wildlife had been making use of them.
Part of Grove Piece is managed by children from Wenhaston Primary School who were planning a planting day later in the week so the area  was cleared of prickly weeds then canes were put in place to show where they could plant the trees they had grown in the school nursery.
After a couple of hours hard work, we gathered for a well deserved cup of tea and biscuits.


Everyone is welcome to join Blyth Woods at work parties through the year so keep a look out for dates.

Clay Day

Preparations for the clay day had been going on for some time. When the pond was dug some clay was put aside to use for pots. At this stage, because of the summer drought, it looked more like a pile of rocks than clay!


The white flecks in the clay are particles of chalk, which is not good news in clay to be used for pots. To get rid of most of the chalk we first pounded the “rocks”  into smaller pieces with a sledge hammer, and then mixed them with lots of water to make a thin sludge of clay and water (a “slip”, in potter’s language) and then poured and persuaded this through an ordinary household sieve. The sieved slip was then poured into large plaster moulds which absorb water from the slip so that you end up with clay again, but minus the chalk and stones!

At last we had some clay that could be used, now for the clay day in Grove Piece on October 6th!

The weather forecast was not good, heavy rain from 11 am to 6 pm, (and we were starting at 10.30 am) but we decided to go ahead and trundled clay, water, the gazebo, firewood shavings, sawdust and other paraphernalia down to Grove Piece, a job that was made much easier by using a four-wheeled garden trolley.

The first job was to fill the pit kiln with some pots made earlier, surrounding them with a mixture of sawdust and shavings, Then a fire of dry sticks was lit on top to light the sawdust and shavings and burn down slowly to the bottom of the kiln.


While we were doing this the first families began to arrive and soon all manner of pots and creatures were being made ……….

At the end of the morning all the creations were collected together to be fired when they had dried out.BWpots-20

There was a queue for hand-washing and then the children helped to improve the bottom of the new pond by stomping the clay to make a smoother and more waterproof bed.

John Rolfe


Report on the day from Liz Hill

On 6 October John and Marie Rolfe and Marie’s sister Claire (a seasoned potter!) led a workshop utilising clay dug from the new pond at Grove Piece.

The event was very well attended by local families and everyone took part in making all manner of splendid objects. The clay was easily manipulated and we created birds, hedgehogs, dogs, heads, dishes, pots and beads.  These were set aside to dry prior to firing.

A fire pit was used to bake items made previously, which had had time to dry out. The pit was filled with shavings, sawdust, the dried clay items, paper and dry sticks. After some persuasion the fire took hold and burned for several hours. All items were successfully baked with no breakages. Today’s clay made items were stored at Grove Piece to dry out but the tarpaulin failed in some places and the rain got it. Marie undertook some rescue modelling then left all to dry out fully. These items will be fired next weekend.

After a good clean up, the children assisted with “stomping down” the inside of the new pond by breaking down the earth.  They also gathered some chalk which was of good writing quality.

As this was such a successful event, another will be planned for next year.

Liz Hill

Tree shapes

It was quiet in the wood and making tree shapes turned out to be a therapeutic and contemplative activity.

“It makes you look at trees in a completely new way”

“I didn’t realise that the barks of trees were so different to each other”

“It’s good to spend some time in the wood enjoying the trees”




Some of the shapes we made will be on sale at the Wenhaston Christmas Fair.


Report on the workshop from Liz Hill

Blyth Woods Tree Sculpture Workshop

On 22 September Marie Rolfe led a very therapeutic tree sculpture workshop for a few lucky attendees.

The event consisted of learning how to create a “cast” of part of a tree by using, tissue, water, parcel tape, patience and a bit of creative knowhow.

We spread out around the wood looking for interesting bark patterns. Once selected we placed tissue over the pattern we wanted to capture. Using wet strips of parcel tape we lay strips over the tissue shaping it as we pressed. We added further layers by placing strips in the opposite direction. Once we have a good stable structure, we let it dry.

The sculptures we made varied in shape and size. We lifted them gently off the base and took them home. Gentle trimming, adding a curtain hook on the back and a spray with paint created the finished articles. Some will be sold at the Christmas bazaar to raise funds for Blyth Woods and the rest will decorate our homes.

The weather was kind and although some of us ended up with bites from unforgiving mosquitoes, we all thoroughly enjoyed our sculpture day in the woods.

Liz Hill



Come and make something from Grove Piece clay. You do not need to have any experience of working with clay just come and enjoy it. The clay has come from the hole that was dug to make a pond.

We have sieved the clay and removed much of the chalk and we have experimented with firing the clay in a pit. So come along and see the results and have a go.P1020149.jpg


All welcome – no charge.




Pond Digging


We now have a pond in Grove Piece. Alan Miller organised the digging as soon as the ground was soft enough and now we need some rain to fill it up. It will be fascinating to watch what naturally arrives once there is enough water.