The four provenances of oaks donated by Woodland Heritage and planted two years ago are now starting to show their likes and dislikes of the conditions in this new wood in Hampshire.
Walter Start, the vastly experienced forester, after whom the wood was named, is now seeing evidence that the plants from southern England (Hampshire & Suffolk) are racing ahead of those from Shropshire and Holland. “It’s early days yet,” pronounced Walter, “but I always felt that the young oaks from nearby Lockerley Estate would be best suited. They are doing really well, but equally robust are the oaks from Edwardstone in East Anglia. That is quite a surprise.”
Walter had changed his plans in 2005 and decided not to spray off the emerging wheat on this former piece of agricultural land. He was content to allow the Kerb granules to protect the young trees from grass competition (see photo lower right) and just pull out the invasive Ragwort. As the photographs clearly show, the oaks have thrived inside their spiral guards. One or two plants have put on remarkable growth in the past year – Walter’s finger indicates (below) a 2 foot leader which has formed during the growing season.
“Now the oaks have clearly established themselves, I will definitely spray off all the wheat and give more light to the smaller trees” said Walter. “I am pretty sure that the Shropshire and Dutch oaks will catch up eventually, but it will be at least 10 years before I will be able to select the very best ones for formative pruning into veneer butts.
I am confident that this site is capable of producing high quality oak and this plantation has the added advantage of being completely protected by the Woodland Heritage deer and rabbit fencing”.
POSTSCRIPT: 50 Black Walnut trees, raised from seed gathered from three huge parent trees standing at Twyford in Norfolk, were donated by W.H. in December 2005. Walter planted these at the highest part of his wood – giving them the best possible protection from spring frosts, which are the biggest enemy of these fast-growing forest trees.