We do follow our own advice!

In the coldest of the current bleak mid-winter, when it has been difficult to get on the garden or indeed to keep warm, we have been hazel coppicing in our own woods.





Back on 1st December we included a post called ‘Hazel Coppicing-It’s a steal!’ which you can find under ‘Design Bites’, ‘Now You Have A Go’ or ‘The Planty Stuff’. Just work your way back through the posts in one of those categories and you will find it.

In the original post we talked about cutting down the hazels right to the ground every 5-10 years depending on the growth they make each year. This varies according to the warmth and moisture of the seasons, but we reckon not to allow the wood at the base of a trunk to exceed wrist thick.  There is a reason for this!

We discussed the potential for this being a good post-Christmas work out. Using a chainsaw is not vigorous enough to beat the bulge, but hand sawing certainly does get the circulation moving. However, leave them more than wrist thick and it begins to seem less like jolly good exercise and a bit too much like hard work!

Hand sawing also allows you to get really close and therefore neatly in to make the cuts on the individual trunks, which are really quite thickly clustered. You can also cut as low to the ground as possible.

Yet another reason for using a handsaw is the sheer peace of it! Chainsaws are noisy things, so dispense with them, get some exercise and enjoy the company of the birds.

Tools that we have on hand include a coarse – toothed saw, such as a bow saw, a fine folding saw which is useful for really narrow spaces , loppers and secateurs.

We tend to cut the trunks at shoulder height and then closely at the base. This two stage process actually makes the job easier. The resulting wood is then cut into the lengths we choose.

Apart from all their ecological and low maintenance benefits, hazels can be used to provide firewood from chunky neat logs down to useful kindling material. They also make good poles for beans and wigwams in borders for say, sweet peas or Ipomoea lobata.

However, we also tend to leave some of the wood in situ in the woods as neat stacks. These act as wildlife refuges. We have a rather unusual wood louse in our gardens which is native to this area of Avon/North Somerset. Exciting? Well, not really, but these things have to be looked after since they are all part of the ecosystem. And our neat little stacks of debris give us that warm glow which is derived from doing our bit.

That is not to mention the warm glow derived from the exercise. And a slight easing of the jeans which indicates that the exercise programme is reaping other rewards too.

There’s virtuous!

Lesley and Robert