A sunny day, at last!

It’s been such a long a dreary start to the year, we’ve been in desperate need of some sunshine. After yesterdays rain, I wasn’t holding out much hope for today. But today really has felt like spring!

Today felt really productive and it was wonderful to spend the whole day at the land. We consolidated brush/branch piles, created a covered shelter for some timber and supplies for upcoming projects and finally got a bench set up in the polytunnel for trays of seedlings.

The area pictured above had been piled with tree trimmings and starting-to-rot wood from raised beds that had been in the previous owners polytunnel (which they dismantled and took with them). We put aside any usable planks of wood and moved the brush to another pile – hopefully the robin and wren that we have seen around here will find the new pile. I plan to create some vegetable beds in this area.

In trying to reclaim the polytunnel space for its intended use, today I insisted on organising a bench to grow seeds. This bench was in the old owners polytunnel and has been sat outside for 2 winters now; the top had rotted through but the main structure seems only slightly worse for wear so we decided to reuse it for now. It may only last a year or two, but it’s free and available so we will make use of it! Some additional wood to strengthen the structure and the sides old veg beds cut up to create a usable surface and voila! This made me happier than some pieces of slightly rotten wood screwed together should! Now I don’t have to balance seed trays on a wheelbarrow, I might be able to get some more seeds sown! Thank you, Ashley!

Ashley took down a small sycamore tree that had been partially squashed by another fallen tree and so I made some make-shift deer protection for the fruit trees! We realised that the wire ‘cages’ that we put round the trees when we planted them probably wouldn’t be sufficient if the deer decided that the fresh new growth would make a tasty snack. Until we get the chance to rectify this, I’m hoping that some other branches poking out will deter or distract the deer.

Common Brimstone

Another highlight of the day for me was seeing this butterfly! I disturbed it as I walked through the grass and as it flew away, I was stunned by how vivid, almost neon green/yellow it was. I followed it to take a picture and was even more stunned by the markings that make it look just like a leaf. I’ve identified it as a ‘Common Brimstone’ – although common, I can’t say I’ve ever seen one before! Maybe I wasn’t paying attention until now… My wildlife book suggests that sightings of this butterfly means that winter really is over – about time too!

A thorny issue

Our woodland is absolutely jam packed full of bramble. We would love to one day own some goats to help keep the bramble at bay, but we currently have neither the time or funds to house, maintain and retain them. So for now, we must manage the brambles ourselves. Although using a strimmer would quickly clear areas, this would of course cut back every other plant and potentially harm animals – overall it just feels quite destructive. We may need to do this to get ahead in some areas, but where possible, we will pull the bramble by hand…..

Last Sunday we got cracking with an area at the back of the woods. There is an established patch of wild garlic (Ramsons) and a lot of Bluebells in the area which is gradually becoming more and more overgrown, so we decided to start there.

How it started – the picture doesn’t really show just how brambly this area was!

This seemed like an achievable goal, aided by the beautiful, uncompacted, loamy soil. We donned our welding gloves (superior thorn protection!) and got started! A mere 5 hours later…..


We actually did so well with this that we moved onto the area to the right of the picture, which borders the river. We can’t wait for the Bluebells to put on a show!

Ramsons and Bluebells in this area near the river, April 2023.