I first heard about a 19 acre parcel of land for sale at Trengayor in 2004. It consisted of 7 acres of existing broadleaf woodland, and 12 acres of new plantation, planted in February 2001. 3 years of complete under-management since that planting meant that by the time I bought it in June 2004, a complete re-planting was required. It was entered into a Forestry Comission Woodland Grant Scheme, and with their guidance a new planting scheme was drawn up, consisting of 7,500 trees. Oak, Ash and Chestnut were the main species with Willow and Alder in the wet areas, and to create wind breaks. Birch, Beech, Rowan, Cherry, Maple, Hazel and Sycamore were also planted in lesser numbers, along with Spindle, Guelder Rose and Dogwood for further diversity. Re-planting was completed in February 2005.
Growing trees in a valley full of red and roe deer, a mile from the salty sea on the windy North Cornish coast has proved to be as challenging as might be expected. However, despite the difficulties, nature's persistence has rewarded my endeavours with a young woodland starting to emerge. I'm not going to be growing tall perfect stands of clean timber trees, but its not just scrubby wind-buckled wasteland either.
Keeping the deer at bay has been the biggest battle, and now most species are well established, and the more sheltered areas seeing particular success. We're only about 3 years from canopy closure in many parts, and the areas that aren't doing so well offer an opportunity to do some selective re-planting. I'd like to put in a scattering of Douglas Fir, Larch and Western Red Cedar to further reflect the softwood timbers used in the workshop, as well as some fruit trees when greater shelter is offered by the woodland growth upwind.
Maybe one day I'll build something from a tree I've planted. A chair or house, it'll be beyond satisfying, if I'm not too arthritic and wobbly by the time the trees are ready to fell. But the satisfaction is equally in the planting, the weeding, the nuturing, the pruning, the watching. Even if the only reason for all this hard work ends up being more homes for birds and bees, it's already been worth it.