Walkabout—lower loop

For weather and work reasons, and the 700 ride, I didn’t get to check the lower loop on schedule and a couple of weeks delay had allowed the rosebay willow herb to o’ertop even the hazel, in parts of t’Other Bit. I finally got some time and my scythe organised this week. I was quite concerned that some of the weaker species—red oak and field maple—could be set back, unable to compete for light effectively.

So, I started the standard lower loop by mowing the public path below the garden and at the top of the orchard. The hornbeam hedges were next: the one in front of Warland House took quite a bit of work and a fair few nettle stings to get the light to all three rows of plants.

Moving on to t’Other Bit, I first cleared the rbwh, brambles and hemlock from the roadside juniper. This was easy because the weeds are tall and the desired plant is prone: the scythe could whizz through without endangering the juniper. Next, I hand-pulled the weeds out of the elder hedge and the willow bed. Then the tough work started as I mowed the tallest weeds from the hazel and the red oak. The rest of the field was less desperate and, to save time, I just removed the weeds from the sunny side of the worst-affected trees. I figured that a bit of competition would help the trees stretch out.

It felt great to report to Monica that the task was done; that no harm had been caused by the delay; and that all of the trees were doing well. Even the maple that had an unexpected 20% mortality, early on, were growing more strongly. The eucalypts were small when planted but started strongly; these had slowed a bit but not enough to be concerned.

Continuing the loop after a few hours of hard yakka, for some reason I decided that the path into the south end of t’Bell must be kept open so I hacked my way through the brambles and nettles for thirty yards. I think I’ll cede the ground until autumn.

A few swipes at the brambles on the path back up to the farm and I could happily collapse, proud that all of our winter effort was worth it.

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