Thursday, October 18, 2012

First visit to Tom's Wood

We had a great day today because I took Mum and Dad to show them the wood I'm about to purchase. As soon as we were there we just couldn't help ourselves but get stuck in on a great day of clearing and letting some light back in.

It has a big Rhodadendrum infestation problem but we think its a war we can win. And the rewards will be 4 acres of clear woodland with filled with just the native broad-leaf trees, many of which are huge and over 100 years old.

I plan to record this clearing process here on my blog and start to cover many other woodland activities and crafts as soon as I can.

Hopefully we will have some volunteer work party days as soon as I properly own it, so if anyone's interested in a great day clearing and bonfires in the woods in return for camp fire cooked food then stay tuned! After this it will be rope-swings, camping, woodland crafts and anything else we can think of as I want as many people as possible to enjoy my wood too.

Me and Dad get the fire started to see if green Rhodadendrum burns. As there are tons of it to clear, this fact could be a deal breaker

Great news! It burns very easily and I can now see many of these bonfires in the future.

Luckily there is one clearing in the middle of the 4 acres as you can see above, I have no idea why the Rhodadendrum haven't managed to take over this space, you can see how dense it is in the background. Anyway this clearing is now our base and you can see Mum and Dad found an old coppiced tree stump in it to eat their lunch.  

A few of the very large sweet chestnut are dead or dying from a worrying disease, I guess this could be my first problem as a new woodland owner that I need to find out more about, this one will come down soon to hopefully stop it spreading to the others, it will still make great firewood logs for my woodburner at home if nothing else.


  1. Nice! Look forward to hearing more about it once you get your woodland... What county are you in, if you don't mind me asking?

  2. Hi Mike, Im in Worcestershire, give me a shout if you are ever in the area. Very happy to have you following my blog, Cheers Tom

  3. Hi Tom,
    Thanks for the comment left on my blog. I'm in East sussex and have 13 acres of woodland, luckily without any rhododendron!! I do know that its very difficult to eradicate; when I went on a woodland management course I was told that its the only plant that required weedkiller to get rid of! Either that or make sure its completely dug up. Best of luck. Not sure what's wrong with the sweet chestnut, it may be worth getting the local F.C. officer in to give you a bit of advice; they are very helpful.

  4. Thanks Nick, just called the local FC, they just might be able to help with a grant for the rhododendron clearance too..will see.. I have subscribed to your blog, I especially like the look of your alaskan mill, would love to make some of my own lumber.

    cheer Tom

  5. Hi Tom

    It looks like a phytophthora that's killing the sweet chestnut - I can't tell which one from the pictures above. It may be one of the long established phytophthoras like 'ink disease' which wouldn't be too bad - unless you're on very poorly drained clay.

    If it's one of the more recently arrived phytophthoras then perhaps you'll have to take this seriously. If this second scenario is the case then rhododendron is half the problem - as it facillitates it's spread. Speak to your local F.C. officer but be aware that they aren't typically experts in tree disease - unfortunately the people you would normally speak to about this are up to their eyes with the current Ash problem.
    I may be able to help more if you can tell me about the soil type and drainage you have, and if you can post more pictures of trees that have more recently been affected. Do any large stems that are dying have apparently healthy younger stem growing from near their base - post a picture. Could you also photograph a recently affected tree with the outer bark removed to reveal the shape of the lesion from the base.

    (if it's ink disease then don't be too down hearted - I've had a similar problem and from a conservation point of view (assuming you have a variety of tree species) it offers many advantages)

    Best wishes
    Stephen (SWOG)

  6. hey tom its holly - just found your blog! nice idea - would LOVE to come and help you guys in the woodland, let me know whenever you need a hand! dont procrastinate about doing that!! :) email me at