Bowthorpe Southern Park – Bramble Clearing

Thursday 4th May 2017

We returned to the site on Thursday to finish clearing the bramble around the young trees and also repair a kissing gate.

Keith, Robert and Chrissie trekked across to the far side of the site to repair the kissing gate with Paula following in the truck with tools and equipment.

The rest of us started slashing the brambles to create access for the brushcutters within the fenced off area. In places the brambles were very dense right up to the barbed wire fence and it would have been difficult to get a brushcutter in to start clearing. Where we were working is also a rabbit warren and pockmarked by numerous entrances hidden under the bramble which creates further hazard.

Clearing the brambles from around the young trees using the brushcutters and removing the weeds by hand from the tree guards that are protecting the trees.

You need a certain amount of room to use and manoeuvre a brushcutter. Hemmed in by brambles and fencing there was little room to turn and swing the cutter. For brambles, we use mulching blades which shred everything they touch so you need a bit of room to control the machine. With the trees choked by bramble we had to move carefully so as to not damage them. Five years’ growth could be wiped out in a second!

Paula and Chris were on brushcutter duty with Keith taking a turn after repairing the kissing gate. Between us we cleared around the trees on the long bank and also around a separate fenced off area nearby. The rest of the team checked the cleared trees and removed weeds from the protective spirals.

There is a section of the bank here where some of us learned to lay a hedge around three years ago.  The laid hedge has thrived and created a thick strong hedgerow. Hedge laying is an old technique where the lower trunk of young trees is thinned to create a flexible hinge and then carefully laid over onto the adjacent tree. The trees continue to grow through each other forming a lower, denser barrier than they would as just a line of trees.

Keith and Chrissie repairing the damaged kissing gate.

At tea break we had Tunnocks tea cakes – a childhood favourite for most of us and still liked. We also had a special treat from Keith who had been given a cookery lesson by his lovely wife Anne – a delicious date and walnut cake.

Keith is the person we turn to when we need technical advice and guidance. As a retired engineer, he knows how to fix and make things in any material and generously shares his expertise with us. It is good to know that he is still learning and adding baking to his list of skills.

We all bring skills and expertise to our work sessions and share these, either through our practical work or during our breaks where conversation ranges across many topics. The social interaction is as important as the physical work. I do sometimes wonder what our 16-year-old work placement students make of us more mature folk!

This was our only work day this week since Matt has ‘man flu’. Our work planned for Caister St Edmund was therefore postponed to the following week.