Bramble-gate Update

We’ve almost managed to clear the top section of the Willow field. I’m using the word ‘clear’ very loosely, but for those who read my last blog, you’ll know this field was an impenetrable wall of brambles.  We’ve spent a few weeks now doing battle with the brambles.  In addition to the fearsome bramble, Some rogue Willow had self seeded, grown, fallen over and regrown towards the top of the field, so these too have been cut down (root removal will happen later), and the view from the lane is very different now. 

You could hardly see the gate from the lane before, let alone the field!
It’s quite steep in there
 

Last weekend we moved most of the brash piles and built a bonfire! Sounds simple doesn’t it. Believe me it wasn’t. We spent the morning cutting the brash into manageable sizes before moving them down to the level area where we built the bonfire. 

Lots of coffee breaks required, it was hard work lugging all the brash downhill.
The brash pile
 

It took an age to get the fire going. We used the bramble and apple branches to get the fire going and mixed bits of Willow in.  The fire would roar up, and then ten minutes later, it was nearly out. We were dashing around the field, gathering up the dead bits of brambles lying on the floor and rushing back to chuck them on the fire in an attempt to keep it going.  Then it would reluctantly roar away again for a few minutes, before dying back down, so off we’d rush again, looking for bits of bramble and kindling.  It would have looked quite amusing to a passerby, I’m sure.  This carried on for most of the afternoon….

It turns out with Willow, it’s better to cut it up into little logs before you throw it on the fire! Mr Bumbleandme made the discovery shortly before it went dark…

That’s a bit better

We’ve not managed to clear all the brash, there’s still some Willow to process, but that can wait for another day. The larger Willow branches will be logged and left to dry out for a couple of years so we can use it for firewood. And of course the lovely apple trees need a bit of TLC too.  

Our current activity is merely a clearing exercise to see what we have in the field.  Nothing has actually been removed from below ground – that will be a gradual process.  We were simply keen to see how many of the fruit trees had survived and how steep the terrain was, so clearing the top growth seemed the obvious way to go.  As the brambles grow back, we’ll use the flail mower to mow them into submission, well that’s the plan.  I think we’ve counted ten apple trees, three oak trees, some hazel and a few unknowns. It turns out one of the apples is actually a pear tree, although I’m not sure which one yet, but I’ll be able to tell when the leaves start to appear. 

It’s really nice to be able to spend some time in there, getting to know the field. It has a real atmosphere, an air of peace and calm, and it’s going to look just beautiful in spring if the apples blossom. 

But for now, it’s time to put our feet up and rest, we’re both nursing bramble attack scars and aching from head to toe. But we can rest feeling proud of our achievements, as we’ve managed to reclaim a little more of our little paradise here in Wales. 

I think we need a few more bonfires…….

The battle of the brambles 

This mystery field has been on our to do list since we moved here almost three years ago. When we were viewing the property, the particulars held promise of beautiful treasure inside, stating that there were apple trees galore in there. When we went to look, we were confronted with a gigantic jungle of brambles and willow. As far as the eye could see, brambles thick and tall covered the top half and willow, fallen and regrown blocked the view down to the stream below. From the road, if you stood on tiptoes, you could just make out some apple blossom in spring, and as autumn approached apples adorned the branches of the tallest tree that had managed to escape the thorns of the bramble. As we’ve been here, the blossom and apples have gotten fewer and fewer. Last spring we saw no blossom at all. This was a challenge if ever there was!

The forgotten field

As there was plenty of work for us to be doing with the cottage, the wood and the field in front of the cottage, we left this field to its own devices. Never far from our thoughts, we plotted and schemed our plan of attack, and dreamed of wildflower meadows under heavily laiden apple trees…….

We thought of using pigs to clear the field. A nice idea, but we’d have to clear an area for electric fencing, and we weren’t ready to commit to our own livestock yet. We investigated using heavy machinery, thankfully not for long. And then Mr Bumbleandme became the proud owner of a brush cutter, knicknamed ‘The Obliterator!’.   

Shortly before Christmas the challenge drew too strong for Mr Bumbleandme and the battle of the brambles commenced…

Let battle commence

Within a few hours, an area the size of two large building plots had been shredded to the ground, bramble twigs lay ripped and torn on the grown. In the distance you could see the height of the brambles undulating, as though they were a piece of fabric, gently resting on something. It reminded me of old houses in films were furniture was covered in cloth, and when the owners returned, they would throw the cloths in the air and the dust would fill the room. An extremely excited Mr Bumbleandme proclaimed there were trees underneath! 

Bit by bit

Bit by bit, Mr Bumbleandme is uncovering the most magical field. You can hear the trees sighing as he frees them from the bramble. So far he’s uncovered four apple trees, one fallen apple tree, two oak trees, and three unidentified trees. We can see at least three more apple trees under the bramble. It’s really very exciting.

The other side of the gate
Uncovering the trees
Sunlight hitting the ground
 

We’re not quite sure how to deal with the bramble when they return in the spring, no doubt with a renewed vigour, but at least it’s a start, and Rome wasn’t built in a day. Bit by bit, we’ll clear the land and encourage the grass and wildflowers to regrow, whilst keeping as many of the trees as we can. And our reward for this hard and gargantuan effort? Well apples course!! They’d better be tasty!

One tangled apple tree

 

I love this view
It’s a lovely field