• Time to help our trees along

    Over the last three or four years we've been slowly working on many of our fruit trees in the orchard - pruning (sometimes quite hard pruning) and the removal of most of the mistletoe, and the results have been varied. The fruit yields were very poor on many of the trees with large infestations of mistletoe and there were many dead, dying and crossed boughs. Of the dozen or so trees that we hit hard three have simply turmed up their toes (they were probably on their way out anyway), a couple are still struggling and the others seem to have rallied pretty well with lots of new growth last year.

    I'm convinced that mistletoe is becoming increasingly agressive/demanding upon the trees it colonises, sapping their vigour considerably. Here's an example of just one of the Bramleys that I worked on last week. It took about 5 hours to clear all the mistletoe and it was everywhere - not just big bunches but innumerable tiny sprigs bursting alien-like all along the boughs. It's now wait&see time.

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  • Hatch Park history

    The latest addition to the historical archive is this slightly wacky image of six people decking the boughs of an ancient hornbeam pollard in Hatch Park, near Ashford in Kent. Dating from around 1880 it's a cabinet size albumen print taken by Robert Stirling (I can find no mention of Stirling as a professional photographer in Kent). This is extremely off-beat for a group photograph of this period. Who were they? Whatever possessed them?

    What this photograph does show rather well is a recently pollarded ancient hornbeam - trees that had already been associated with the deer park and its related woodland at Hatch Park for many centuries and, indeed, still very much the case today with an ongoing conservation strategy to maintain these very special trees. I was there nine years ago and photographed several thriving examples of these hornbeams - a native tree of course, but its range very much associated with south-east England.

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  • Cheers, but not quite yet..

    Sitting on the doorstep this morning looking out at the large birch at the end of the walled garden & I spotted something drip-dripping from about twenty feet up the tree. No rain for days so what could it be? A closer look revealed a partially snapped branch, probably from the recent gales, and a steady drip of sap. The grass where it had dripped looked slightly frosted - it was crystalized sugar. Put out a bowl & in less than an hour collected this glass full. Beautifully clear, but smelling of nothing and tasting only very slightly sweet. In Scotland they tap the birch trees at this time of year, collecting a lot of liquid from which they make birch sap wine. With so little distinctive flavour in the raw material it's hard to imagine what it might taste like.

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  • Tony Norman - local hero for the native black poplar

    Tony Norman from Pembridge has become a local hero for the conservation efforts to maintain and expand the numbers of native black poplars in Herefordshire. About three years ago Tony got together with David Griffith, another enthusiastic advocate for the black poplar, as they were well aware that the number of mature native black poplars in the county were down to about 200 trees, and several were being lost every year as old age and the elements caught up with them. The plan was to get 1,000 new trees in the ground and, most particularly, to try and bolster up the population of female trees to encourage natural regen. by seed. Several friends and members of the Herefordshire Tree Warden Network have now got the bit between their teeth and planting continues apace, with new trees being mapped and added to a database. Fortunately the planting season is almost over now that Covid-19 is with us.

    Here's a picture of Tony planting one of his truncheons into a streamside near Eardisland with a splendid example of an outgrown pollard in the background - hopefully the shape of things to come.

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  • 6 Men!!! and oh yes, a huge oak tree

    Just acquired for the archive collection this most unusual image of a huge, ancient oak tree with 6 men around it - 2 in the boughs & 4 beneath. It's an Edwardian postcard and it simply says, '6 Men!!!' on the back with not an inkling of where it is or what might be special about the tree. Anyone got any ideas?

    I just love the random nature of it and also, if you look closely, I think the man on the left beneath the tree has a box camera of some sort on his lap... taking a photo of the photographer perhaps?

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Archie Miles photography

Archie's Blog

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