A mini, mid-winter update from the countryside

Forestry

The New Year and colder(ish) weather means that now is the time for us rangers to resume our annual forestry work. Carrying on from where we left off at the tail-end of last winter, we shall be continuing our traditional coppicing and thinning along Lamouth Creek, near Roundwood Quay.

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These signs are like Batman’s searchlight – if you see one, the orange-clad rangers are close at hand, striving for the greater good of the woodland

If you are a regular reader, you know the score – we aim to favour our sessile oaks (a distinctive feature of the creek) and develop a thick understory of hazel, field maple and lime coppice. The narrow strip of woodland we are working in was densely planted approximately 25 years ago and is now being thinned to allow selected trees to mature whilst others are coppiced to provide habitat and structural diversity.

Dense coppice stools, such as we have created, grow on to provide excellent nesting sites for birds and mammals like the nationally rare harvest mouse, which are known to thrive in the extensive meadow habitat of Tregew.

As winter progresses, we will be out and about, removing non-native species’ from our SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) woodlands along the North and South Woodland Walks. If you see us working and have any questions, please don’t hesitate to come and have a chat.

If you are interested in this kind of thing then please take a look at our more in-depth overview of the woodland management that happens at Trelissick:

Woodland management at Trelissick

Community Orchard

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Traditional chestnut palings now surround the pond

The pond at Tregew Community Orchard is still a work in progress and has now been fenced off with traditional chestnut palings to keep out dogs and minimise disturbance.

It might surprise you, but one of the chief reasons for creating this area was as a release site for a rare species of longhorn bumble bee. These insects’ specificity has made them quite rare and they require the warm, clay banks of the pond to find suitable nesting habitat.

Tregew already boasts extensive areas of nectar-rich, bee-friendly meadow but, seeing as this longhorn bee is now only found at a few coastal location across the south of Britain, it would be an exciting addition to the fauna of the estate.

Tregew is a great place with loads of good stuff going on. Read all about it right here:

How we manage Tregew for wildlife

Apples and birds

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Shed a tear for a sour and lonely Chacewater longstem left to dangle, unwanted and unpicked, in cold winter winds.

Chacewater longstems are – as the name would suggest – a variety of apple with origins relatively local to Trelissick. We would love to tell you the tale of a crisp, juicy and versatile apple that was cherished far and wide but the bitter truth is that these bright green fruits are pretty much inedible. The extremely high concentration of tannic acid present in this variety means they are used primarily for making cider and are no good for eating or cooking (even our pigs struggle to enjoy them).

As such, these are usually the lowly fruit that remain in the orchard, after the tastier varieties have all been picked, and cling grimly to leafless winter branches. We have noticed recently however, that they do have their fans; a legion of latecomers such as redwings and jackdaws can now be seen making off with these pale green orbs. It’s good to see that our persnickety picking provides winter provision for those less picky!

Cutting forage and pollarding hazel

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Shetland sheep feast on unseasonably green hazel leaves under an unpicked haul of Chacewater longstems and a rather famous mansion house….

At this time of year there is very little nutrition in the grass for our Shetland sheep but, owing to the mild winter, several hazels round and about have retained their leaves. This greenery offers a welcome bit of forage during the lean months and we cut them, using a bilhook, at a height of around 8 feet from the ground.

This is an ancient form of managing woodland-pasture and creates a traditional pollard; both retaining the wonderful nooks and crannies of the main stem and preventing new shoots from being nibbled come spring.

Thanks for reading.

The National Trust ranger team, Trelissick and North Nelford

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