Here at the farm, we are managing our fields as naturally as possible – and each of our fields has slightly different needs. One of our fields suffers from water-logging during wet winters and our regular customers will know that we call it the ‘wet field’. Christmas trees don’t mind water, but they don’t like their roots sitting in it for months on end.
Digging out our pond has helped deal with some of the excess water that can’t drain freely because of the motorway embankment. As you can see, the pond was full of water in the spring – (you can just spot the silhouette of a resident duck flying over it!). We have planted various types of willow around the pond to encourage further drainage and naturalise the pond as a feature. We are looking forward to seeing these mature.
Native trees and birds
We have some well-established eucalyptus trees, which are thirsty drinkers and help with excess ground water. And over the last few years, we have been busy planting native woodland trees in a boggy area that the Christmas trees won’t tolerate. There are now nearly 400 trees growing in this area and, as they mature, they will provide an excellent habitat for all the wildlife living on the farm.
We were amazed to find a woodcock on the wet field. Sadly it was dead, but since these are nocturnal birds, we would not have known of its presence otherwise. (Our newly resident falcon was probably the culprit…) Woodcocks are on the RSPB red-list but apparently thrive on Christmas tree plantations, which are perfect cover for their speckled plummage. https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/woodcock.
Managing field margins naturally
On our newest field, we grow trees in more of a plantation style – planting trees in blocks. We have a lovely native hedgerow around three sides of the field. The Woodland Trust recently gave us 150 native tree saplings – of silver birch, dogwood, hawthorn, hazel, wild chery. So we will be planting another beautiful hedgerow here, too! This will create natural shading and protect the outer rows of young Christmas trees from the full exposure to the sun. These are all ways we are managing our fields as naturally as possible…