Trees in your garden, do you make use of them?

Paul_B

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I'm curious about this. I'm reading a book on woodland craft and it got me thinking whether anyone makes use of their trees. I'm not thinking of fruit trees but woodland trees. Do you have any that you've cut back which then started growing rods? Did you cut them off for spoiling the look of the tree or grow them on for using them after 3, 5 or 7 years?

This curiosity is borne out of the house we're in the process of buying, posts have been made related to this already. It's got a decent area, sloping with a fair few trees. Too many large leylandii for my liking I think but there's native too. At least one looks like it's coppiced. Well, there's one trunk wrist sized the rest are all a lot smaller maybe either side of an inch to inch and a half. How old do you think they could be? There could easily be more. Whatever it is I'll be cutting them at some point to use, probably for gardening use but I might cut a few for hiking poles/sticks.

I'm curious about trees. I think the most people use them for are fires but most don't have enough to be sustainable. I'm just thinking about whether some have coppiced a garden hazel and whilst not getting much they still use the rods in the garden harvesting after day 5 years. Or any birch you harvest the bark or sap from?

There will probably be some with woodland they manage and others with a piece of land they have planted. But any opportunistic types taking advantage of what they moved into when the bought their property? What trees do you have and how have you used them?
 

Toddy

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I make baskets.
I grow and cut back willows and geans and hazels. I also have an oak tree that's very much in the wrong place, I didn't plant it but it grew, and I keep cutting it back every couple of years.
I use all of those woods. Geans are the native wild cherry trees. They grow really quickly once established and I get really good rods from them.
Willows not only give rods and weavers but the bark makes superb cordage. The oak I use for whatever I need at the moment. It makes a really good firebow when it's cut young like this, it makes good stuff for carving, and from handles to spindles.

In a garden I would try not to grow any tree that didn't do double duty, iimmc ?
I use all of mine for natural dyes, even the apple tree does that, some as herbals, many for basketry or cordages, many for food :) like the Rowan, the Apple and the Hazel (not there yet) I even managed to grow an olive and a fig tree :)
I do wish I'd grown fruit cherry trees though, and a plum instead of the blackthorn/sloe.

It's going to be interesting to hear what you do with your garden :)
 

Paul_B

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I'm not going to be able to plant much as it's already planted with stuff that's reached a fair size already.

There's a conifer that looks like it's leylandii based on leaves/needles? Rough and flaking red bark and a trunk that would possibly need three of me to get arms around. Pkus at least another, smaller one elsewhere. There's a few or two. I think a hazel that looks coppiced but I'm absolutely rubbish at tree ID even with field id book? There's a lot of established trees of native species I'm certain. I've had two viewings but that didn't help me with working out what's there.

Tree cover is complete in the upper, wildlife area and in the lower garden there is mostly tree cover with little patches that with trimming could be opened up to light. Lower garden near the patio and greenhouse there's a bit more open space. Enough for a rather sad looking apple tree. It's got a few almost pendant branches with a handful of apples on them. I suspect it needs pruning back and things trimming away to give it more light. It's about 3 to 4m high I think so not a big tree. I could probably pick most of the apples without needing ladders this year, but after some quality tree care of might produce more higher up.

This waiting for the sale to go through is frustrating. I want to get in there. Nobody lives there as it's someone's inheritance. It's only been just over one week since our offer was accepted, we've got more than 8.5 weeks left!!! Then some because of Xmas. Even more of COVID stops things.

Gean? I've heard the name and imagine an almost red bark with kind of horizontal rings of tough ridges on the trunk. Is that correct? Masses of pink flowers if left to mature naturally too. My home growing up from 3 to 13 had two ornamental cherry trees until something happened to one and my dad disappeared it when we were out. Good for spring show but nice trunk with the bark at other times.

Willow? Need wet ground id have thought. Great for bank stabilisation. Get a stick of it and push into the ground. It'll take more often than not. Chop it back it'll grow even more sticks. Can take over. My Grandad had a weeping willow. I think he even planted it. Ended up a majestic specimen until 87 split it a bit and created a cleft to the top so it lost its almost umbrella or jellyfish body shape. Great tree for kids. You could easily climb up the trunk a bit, enough to hide your feet. Nobody could see you there from outside until they pushed through the branches. But you could see out!!
 

Paul_B

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It'll be interesting to find out what's there and how to make use of it. I'll be out there with better tree ID book than the Collins one I have when we get there. Once I know I'll probably describe the trees better on here for advice?
 

Broch

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To be honest I don't think you'll find better guides than the two Collins ones below:



Part of my native plants database that I'm building (have been for a few years and probably will be till I die) includes the native tree species and what they are and have been used for; I can email you relevant section if you want it.
 
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slowworm

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I use quite a few trees. Hazel, as mentioned, coppiced for bean poles, peas sticks and other useful items. Willow for weaving material and this year I've found it survives well enough to also use as bean poles. I've planted and coppiced field maple and used the wood for carving kitchen utensils. Oak, beach etc coppiced and the wood used for fungi logs. You mention fruit trees but I've planted things like lime trees (tilia) for edible leaves and, perhaps one day, useful flowers. The list is endless really, look at agroforestry.
 
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Paul_B

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Collins Nature Guides, Trees, by Aas and RiedRiedmiller

That's the one I have and I'm not impressed. Description of trees could be a few options. Plus if you're looking at a tree that you're trying to ID there's not a very good way to reach the right identification. Ok if you've got a clue already not if you haven't I think. I gave it to my 7 year old with guidance and he couldn't id even a common species. He got oak though but he did know that one anyway.
 

Broch

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Collins Nature Guides, Trees, by Aas and RiedRiedmiller

That's the one I have and I'm not impressed. Description of trees could be a few options. Plus if you're looking at a tree that you're trying to ID there's not a very good way to reach the right identification. Ok if you've got a clue already not if you haven't I think. I gave it to my 7 year old with guidance and he couldn't id even a common species. He got oak though but he did know that one anyway.

Yeh, I'm afraid a couple of those nature guide publications fall short when it comes to being used as a real Field Guide - I can recommend the photo guide I referenced above. There are summary guides at the front based on leaf, twig, and bark. However, tree ID is rarely about the whole tree structure and more about those kind of details.
 
I'm curious about this. I'm reading a book on woodland craft and it got me thinking whether anyone makes use of their trees. I'm not thinking of fruit trees but woodland trees. Do you have any that you've cut back which then started growing rods? Did you cut them off for spoiling the look of the tree or grow them on for using them after 3, 5 or 7 years?

This curiosity is borne out of the house we're in the process of buying, posts have been made related to this already. It's got a decent area, sloping with a fair few trees. Too many large leylandii for my liking I think but there's native too. At least one looks like it's coppiced. Well, there's one trunk wrist sized the rest are all a lot smaller maybe either side of an inch to inch and a half. How old do you think they could be? There could easily be more. Whatever it is I'll be cutting them at some point to use, probably for gardening use but I might cut a few for hiking poles/sticks.

I'm curious about trees. I think the most people use them for are fires but most don't have enough to be sustainable. I'm just thinking about whether some have coppiced a garden hazel and whilst not getting much they still use the rods in the garden harvesting after day 5 years. Or any birch you harvest the bark or sap from?

There will probably be some with woodland they manage and others with a piece of land they have planted. But any opportunistic types taking advantage of what they moved into when the bought their property? What trees do you have and how have you used them?
We live in a forest Paul, when I lived in England all the woodlands around us were being cut down making room for housing. So I left England & came to Australia & purchased my own forest. We use the dead wood for our cooking stove & heater, we use timber for fence posts & constructing sheds. We also have a coppice that I use for tool handles, axe helves & poles for the garden. I use the inner bark of the Grey Stringybark to make cordage. Reeds from Cattail Pond are used for mulch for the gardens.

At about 4:17 in this video you will see me cutting & debarking poles in our coppice.
Regards, Keith.
 

punkrockcaveman

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My plant ID has come on leaps and bounds recently after getting a photographic guide, so I can 2nd what brock is saying and advise you go down that route.

With trees I've been slowly learning over the years, this years big breakthrough was figuring out that I'm actually surrounded by loads of goat willow, I always thought it was some kind of fruit tree!

There's a few basic trees that I feel cover 90% of stuff you will see. Gardens are normally full of obscure ornamental stuff though...
 

Paul_B

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You really should see this garden. Not big not small but it's the top section that's basically woodland on a tiny scale. Except for the evergreen trees, yew excepted, which I don't know how it got there. Seriously, it looks like a small redwood tree but with leylandii style evergreen fronds or whatever they're called. Other than that it looks like mostly natural. The gardens on our row of about 6 houses (well it's not quite ours yet) have a lower part that's fenced off like a normal garden. Then there's another, higher plot of land that's also fenced in. That's pretty much natural asking the row I think. It is almost like that in section isn't owned by the houses so they can't change it to garden. Maybe there's a restriction in what can be done to those parcels of land. Our plot is the wildest in the lower section, I think deliberately so by the late owner.

The next house sale fell through so it's got sale again. Despite being a little cheaper we decided to stick with this house because we think the garden is the best feature with a potential that more groomed neighbouring gardens don't have. Harder work to get it sorted but a good project all the same.
 
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You really should see this garden. Not big not small but it's the top section that's basically woodland on a tiny scale. Except for the evergreen trees, yew excepted, which I don't know how it got there. Seriously, it looks like a small redwood tree but with leylandii style evergreen fronds or whatever they're called. Other than that it looks like mostly natural. The gardens on our row of about 6 houses (well it's not quite ours yet) have a lower part that's fenced off like a normal garden. Then there's another, higher plot of land that's also fenced in. That's pretty much natural asking the row I think. It is almost like that in section isn't owned by the houses so they can't change it to garden. Maybe there's a restriction in what can be done to those parcels of land. Our plot is the wildest in the lower section, I think deliberately so by the late owner.

The next house sale fell through so it's got sale again. Despite being a little cheaper we decided to stick with this house because we think the garden is the best feature with a potential that more groomed neighbouring gardens don't have. Harder work to get it sorted but a good project all the same.
Any chance of some images Paul?
Keith.
 

Paul_B

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Only when the sale has gone through I'm afraid. Still buying it.

The undergrowth includes periwinkle and other native species. There's a lot of yew trees round here and the garden has at least one established yew tree. It's going to be interesting to actually more what's there. It'll be late December or early January when we get in there so tree ID might not be as easy and plants that are there won't be clear until they come up in spring. However, we'd like to clear the paths at least before sap rises. Actually find the paths because there's a lot hidden I think? This is as close to owning a wood that we'll get or want to get I reckon.
 
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Toddy

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My plant ID has come on leaps and bounds recently after getting a photographic guide, so I can 2nd what brock is saying and advise you go down that route.

With trees I've been slowly learning over the years, this years big breakthrough was figuring out that I'm actually surrounded by loads of goat willow, I always thought it was some kind of fruit tree!

There's a few basic trees that I feel cover 90% of stuff you will see. Gardens are normally full of obscure ornamental stuff though...

I reckon I know why it's called Goat willow....it tastes much sweeter than the others :)
I have made cordage from all of the willows and, yes, I confess, I nipped off the little sticking out ends with my teeth.
Trust me, Goat willow is much nicer than the rest and is probably why the goats prefer it.
If you need to make the aspirin type drink from willow, find the goat one.

M
 
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punkrockcaveman

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I reckon I know why it's called Goat willow....it tastes much sweeter than the others :)
I have made cordage from all of the willows and, yes, I confess, I nipped off the little sticking out ends with my teeth.
Trust me, Goat willow is much nicer than the rest and is probably why the goats prefer it.
If you need to make the aspirin type drink from willow, find the goat one.

M


Nice one Mary I'll give it a try! And the skillset grows :)
 

Toddy

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Yeh, I'm afraid a couple of those nature guide publications fall short when it comes to being used as a real Field Guide - I can recommend the photo guide I referenced above. There are summary guides at the front based on leaf, twig, and bark. However, tree ID is rarely about the whole tree structure and more about those kind of details.

I have the Collins books, and they're much easier to use when out and about, but I have an old Reader's Digest Book of Trees and Shrubs,
and it's excellent.

I admit that I do like Botanical Drawings. I understand Botanical drawing and I find that much more reliable than a few subjective photographs.

M
 

John Fenna

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I have Sycamore, Willow, Hazel, Holly and Ash all growing around the edge of my garden. All get harvested for firewood and younger trimmings are used for carving, making walking poles etc. They are mainly stuff I planted (I have lived here over 40 years) and are one of the best things I grow other than fruit.
 
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Broch

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I admit that I do like Botanical Drawings. I understand Botanical drawing and I find that much more reliable than a few subjective photographs.

I agree, especially when it comes to flowering plant ID because they reduce the image down to the diagnostic components. I use two books for flowers: Francis Rose and Marjorie Blamey. However, I think the variety in leaf shape and size on trees makes it difficult for beginners to grasp at first and photos of the leaves on twigs etc. helps. I have the Reader's Digest one as well (as well as the others in the series); they really are excellent books and I recommend people getting them if they find them in second hand bookshops. My personal favourite tree book is the old Collins 'A Field Gide to the Trees of Britain and Norther Europe' by Alan Mitchell which is all drawings; sadly out of print now though.
 
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Paul_B

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My parents had part of their hedge made up of sycamore believe it or not. Obviously been there many years as the horizontal trunk was quite thick or at least the very short stump leading up to the horizontal part. They were not very stock proof so my dad put in chainlink fencing? Buried it a foot down too to try and stop rabbits getting in plus the fence around the vegb patch. Two lines of defence plus a catapult!! Not all tree species make good hedges and old sycamores that have been hedge laid many decades ago create gaps not hedges.
 
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Broch

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We have 26 species of tree, not including planted fruit trees, and 21 of them are native (so, here before the flooding of Dogger Bank). We use hazel for bean poles; hazel, holly, blackthorn, alder (and others) for walking sticks; ash for quarterstaff, long poles and bows; cherry, holly, sycamore, field maple and birch for carving and treen; cherry, hawthorn, blackthorn for knife handles; ash and oak for axe and tool handles; elder, guelder rose, hawthorn, rowan and blackthorn for drinks and syrups.

To be honest, the list is endless; I've even made a coracle from hazel :)
 
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