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Last February the volunteers helped the Trust dead-head some saplings in Frithsden Beeches.

Pollarding is a pruning practice which removes the upper part of a tree promoting a dense head of foliage and branches. It has been common since medieval times and maintains trees at a predetermined height, above the reach of browsing cattle and deer. Wood pollarding tends to produce upright poles, ideal for fences, and posts, with some of the new growth used as fodder for livestock.

Clumps of young beech trees less than ten years old were singled out for treatment. With only a handful of the ancient beech pollards left in the wood , restoration work was overdue.

If you go down to the wood today you can now see the results. For a sapling it is a shock to the system to have its head removed – out of the fifty or so saplings that were pollarded more than half have survived so far. It will only need one or two trees in a clump to get-away and become ancient pollards in time – providing the squirrels leave them alone – they strip the bark in spring when food is scarce.

This is probably the first time in over a hundred years that new pollards have been created at Frithsden, or the existing pollards harvested.

The old “Queen” of pollards at Frithsden, the Harry Potter tree perished in a summer storm in June 2014. and the remainder may follow soon, so there is much more work to be done.

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