great to live with. Coppicing a fine oak or sweet chestnut might solve the problem. The first year after coppicing, you may get up to 150 new young shoots, but due to natural competition they will self-thin and you could end up with around five or 15, depending on how long you leave them. Traditionally, hedgerow trees (oak, ash) were often cut on a 25 or 35year cycle, sweet chestnut on a 15 and hazel on a seven to 10, all depending on what diameter timber was needed. If you have nothing to coppice, consider planting some suitable trees. One hazel tree will yield timber, pea sticks and much pleasure. Many trees provide bee forage too, notably hazel, alder, lime and cherry. If you have room, a small plantation of hazel can be productive in seven years. It will shelter you from winds and screen you from neighbours. Plus it provides a beautiful and usable part of the garden. You can mix coppice trees with standardsize trees if you prefer. Order bare-root plants now (doubleyewnurseries.co.uk), preferably 45cm-60cm (17in23in) high and bare root, which cost a few pence each. Decide which species you want depending on your soil and your use. If it is mainly for your wood burner, Grow Your Own Firewood by Michael Littlewood (Ecodesignscape) goes into the pros and cons of many species. Large areas of wood are planted in serried lines, purely because it makes husbandry easier. On small plots I plant young trees randomly with centres between 1.2m and 3m (4ft and 10ft) per tree. Close centres produce more wood. Some plants will die before they establish anyway (assuming you are unable to water them in the first year), but even in unfavourable hot, dry first springs this will be unlikely to be more than 10 per cent. Make sure there is no grass around the base of the young trees (moisture competition will slow growth by as much as 70 per cent or even kill in the first year). To remove grass, (carefully) use glyphosate or a tree mat on planting (acorn-plantingproducts.com) and don’t forget your spiral tree guards if you have rabbits. If you have a big deer problem, mesh tree guards (also from Acorn) may be necessary, but otherwise no tree stakes are needed. It will look scruffy and unremarkable for your first three or four years. Put in a hedge or smart chestnut fence if it worries you. In year five it will start to blossom as growth picks up speed and the scruffy grass and nettles below become less dominant. Your birdsong levels will start to soar as your winds wane and you will start to mark out paths through. You may wish to add bulbs, ferns and wild flower plugs, too. Then you will need to find a convenient place for your new wood store. Wood warms you up four times, on planting, on felling, on sawing and on burning. Trees that attract the most wildlife at THE NEW ENGLISH GARDEN by Tim Richardson with photographs by Andrew Lawson (Frances Lincoln, RRP £40, offer £36 + £1.35 p&p). Telegraph columnist Tim Richardson has chosen to highlight 25 of the most interesting and arresting gardens that have been made or remade in the past decade. He covers the wide range of fashions flourishing in English garden design, with emphasis on naturalistic planting styles. The gardens, exquisitely photographed by Lawson, are fabulous. WILD FLOWERS NATURE’S OWN TO GARDEN GROWN by Carol Klein (BBC Books, RRP £20, offer £18 + p&p). Klein believes that in order to understand our garden plants, we need to look at their wild flower cousins. As gardeners, she by Michael Littlewood (Ecodesignscape) One for the fire starter in your family, explaining how to create productive woodland by planting the best species, maintaining and harvesting your trees, in order to become self-sufficient in fuel. With ever-increasing energy costs it makes sense to Baking quinces in a medium oven until soft, then scooping out their flesh (minus the core) and freezing it in small portions to add that wondrous fragrance later to Christmas stuffing, cakes and puddings.
Let the sunshine in: clockwise from main image, more light will encourage new plants to colonise below; sweet chestnuts are ideal for coppicing; new growth surrounds a coppiced cornus; cuts can be made with relatively small blades; paulownia leaves increase in size; create vibrant winter borders
GROW YOUR OWN FIREWOOD