work with nature

An explosion of wren scoldings greet me as I enter the bramble thickets, heavy duty clippers tucked away under my oxter. Don’t worry, I coo trying to reassure them, I’ll be alert. Wren like to nest in bramble thickets and it’s been three years since I’ve cut and mulched this patch. I’m aware I’m entering their territory. Hand tools lessen the devastation.

Three years ago we made the decision not to cut and mulch the bramble anymore after a couple of years of snipping any that reared their head above ankle height. It’s a wet and inaccessible site where we hope to create a pond, littered with brash and unwanted logs after the harvest. Before juncus took over we planted and protected 35 oak, rowan, hazel and birch. Holly and willow were left to brazen it out. Some trees died in the tubes, some after daring to poke heads above the plastic parapet. We saw how bramble had protected natural regen in other areas so decided to leave nature to it.

Hand tools offer a wealth of affordances. Slowing down to make sure I don’t slice a wren nest in two or maim a frog (which I once did with a scythe on Skye) rewards me with a torrent of connection to myself, in navigating my body through this landscape, to the land, as I learn about water flow and succession, to the creatures of this place and all the relationships between them. I don’t see any nests but leave a big patch where I was being yelled at from to the wren and the hankering for berries we all have.

Around the 60 minute mark my arms begin to shake with the repetitive cutting. Mint tea and an inquisitive Robin revive my spirits but can’t co-ordinate tired legs and I get tripped up by bramble thorn holding fast to boiled wool trousers and bootlaces. Bramble is a fierce, hardy pioneer. Piled up in ditches the decomposers will make hummus of it as they have much of the brash. In the ditch I look up into the boughs of a young hazel, birch and oak guild, bramble weaving a merry dance through small branches and up into the canopy. The trees are getting away fine now. I cut thorns and thread my own spell of protection hoping it’ll be enough to keep the deer from chewing the bark from their tender trunks.

#workingwithnature #eachelementperformsmultiplefunctions #thesolutioniswithintheproblem #maketheleastchangeforthegreatestpossibleeffect #relativelocation #useandvaluediversity #cycling #acceleratingsuccession #creativelyuseandrespondtochange

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