The trees at the Giants Grove have now completed their first growing season, and I am delighted at how the site performed. All of the little Giants are alive and well, and showed good growth and vigour, while the inter-planted nurse species have a 97% strike-rate. This is extraordinary considering expected losses of 15%, and the severe drought which immediately followed planting. All of the trees have concentrated on developing their roots this first year rather than on height, and so we can expect very good leader-growth next year considering this amazing start.
As planned for and expected, there has been considerable invasion of the site by other plant species. Oak, Ash, Birch, Alder, Willow and Hazel are all freely regenerating throughout, thanks to the ‘no chemical’ policy. Unfortunately, less attractive species have also colonised the area. However, brambles, thistles and nettles may make the site appear unkempt, but they have an enormous biodiversity value, and their presence is in keeping with the management of the Giants Grove as a natural woodland rather than as a forest park. Of course, we will be keeping a close eye on all the natural regeneration to ensure they have no adverse impact on the planted species, particularly the Giants.
One interesting problem which we didn’t foresee is that the shiny white labels fluttering in the breeze has attracted the curiosity of some local Red Deer, who have been nibbling at them. Luckily, the labels won’t do them any harm, but it does mean we have had to order less tastier labels, and these will be distributed throughout the site in the coming weeks. Along with the deer, the Giants Grove has attracted a wide variety of wildlife such as Red Squirrel, Pine Martens, Buzzards, and Otter have been seen playing in the Camcor river beside it.
The Giants Grove has had some issues, some browning of foliage on a few Sequoia due to the drought is evidence of that, but the site has exceeded all expectations. The first year of this unique 1200 year project has been a great success!
Ecoplan Forestry Limited