The winter months are an ideal time for carrying out work on the boundaries of the meadows. At all five meadows we aim to manage the hedges and 'woody' features rotationally, using traditional woodland/hedgerow management such as coppicing, hedge-laying and pollarding. All these techniques help keep the trees and hedges vigorous and 'cash- in' on the ability of our native broadleaves to 'self re-new' by re-shooting when cut back.
In the case of pollarding, trees are cut back at about 5-12 feet above ground, leaving a trunk or 'bolling' from which new shoots arise. The reason for cutting pollards at this height was originally to protect new shoots from livestock as the growth is above the browse line.
However, at Martin's Meadows we have adopted pollarding of three boundary ashes in the roadside orchard, to keep the trees at a manageable size and prevent too much shading of the fruit trees. The trees are pollarded on a relatively short rotation (every 5-7 years) and have just been ably re-worked by the volunteer wardens. The poles generated are being used as stakes for hedge-laying elsewhere in the meadows.
The three ash pollards have already become quite a feature of the orchard and I'm sure will become ever more so as the years pass.
Pictures by Paul Chapman, Voluntary Warden at Martin's Meadows.