There’s far more to woodland than just trees. We love spending time outdoors with the huge, ancient trees found in the woods around London, but the real attraction of ancient woodland is the sense of stillness and peace we feel when we’re there. That’s why we enjoy helping our clients bring some of this tranquillity a little bit closer to home.
What is Ancient Woodland?
To formally qualify as ancient woodland, a wood must have been documented as existing in the year 1600. This is just before the death of Queen Elizabeth I, and is recognised as the year when accurate maps of England first became available.
But of course there’s never a guarantee that such historical records are complete or even comprehensive. Experts are often left to deduce whether a site might qualify as ancient woodland from the particular plant species which grow there.
Why does it Matter?
For one thing, some ancient woodland may be the remnants of the wildwood, the primal forest which covered England after the last ice age.
So the kinds of trees in ancient woodland could provide useful clues about our country’s natural history. But more importantly, ancient woodland tends to be unusually rich in plant and animal life.
In our largely man-made landscape, these woodlands are a precious link with truly wild nature.
What is Ancient Woodland Like?
It depends where in the country you are. Many people living in London will have encountered ancient woodland on a trip to Epping Forest, and have seen the venerable hornbeam, beech and oak trees there.
The forest is also renowned for the headily-scented carpet of bluebells which grows every year between late April and early May.
But the most outstanding feature of ancient woodland is texture. The hornbeam trees in Epping Forest have been pollarded for centuries, and in other ancient woodlands you’ll often find coppice stools.
Ancient woodland isn’t a particularly tidy environment, and that’s why it’s bursting with life: half-dead hollow trees play host to a variety of fungi and insects, and ferns colonise damp, shady corners.
How to bring the spirit of ancient woodland to your garden
Depending on the amount of land you have available, it’s possible to take this kind of project as far as you like. If you’re lucky enough to have enough space for hazel and hornbeam, you could even indulge in your own spot of coppicing or pollarding.
For smaller gardens, the rule of thumb is to opt for native species like rowan, holly and the delightful wild service tree. And instead of a manicured lawn, plant wild daffodils and bluebells underneath the trees, or even create your very own wildflower meadow.
For help and advice on coppicing, pollarding, and how to make your garden as tranquil and beautiful as ancient woodland, call our expert team of West London tree surgeons on 07771 332 149, or fill in the online form.