Down To Earth by Carol Barrett - Recognising Irish Trees in Winter
We wish you all a very happy nature-filled New Year from the Down To Earth Forest School team. We are busy creating a new shelter in Esker Wood here in Brigit's Garden using timber from the young oak trees. The shelter will mean we can spend time outside in all weathers. The little robins are watching our every move. It's so comforting knowing they have accepted our presence there and they regularly come to visit the children attending the forest school.
Recognising Irish Trees in Winter
Esker Wood was planted 15 years ago and the oak, hazel and ash trees are growing really well. Identifying these trees in Winter is easier than you think if you look carefully at the leaf buds.
Ash has pale grey bark, upturned twigs and distinctive large, black buds.
Oak has rugged brown bark and branching twigs with clusters of small, brown buds.
Hazel is a smaller, multi-stemmed tree with red-green buds and catkins.
The Art of Coppicing
The Down To Earth Forest School Team has been using the art of coppicing to manage the hazel trees in the woods. This involves cutting the tree back to a stump and allowing it to re-sprout. Coppicing was a popular way to manage woodlands in the past, providing a continuous supply of wood and never killing the tree.
Coppicing is not only good for the tree but allows light onto the forest floor, helping other species of plants to grow. If you think about it, it is a sustainable solution for woodlands, giving us fuel and absorbing our excess carbon. It's a win/win scenario. When visiting Brigit's Garden, there are many examples of coppiced trees but for a really effective example, take a look at this 400 year old coppiced oak tree pictured here.
Who are Down to Earth Forest School?
Down To Earth run the weekly 'Little Twigs Parent and Toddler Group' and the 'After School Forest Group' at Brigit's Garden. They also have monthly Family Forest Fun Days and all classes for 2017 will re-commence at the end of February. Keep an eye on both the Down To Earth and Brigit's Garden websites for exact times in the coming weeks.