The Big Bramble Clearing Project
Bramble clearing is most certainly much easier done in winter, when the leaves have disappeared and you can see exactly what you’re doing. For the most thorniest of thickets, it’s still tough going and you’ve got to be prepared to be assaulted by painful barbs. However, it beats trying to bash your wash through a jungle of spiny leaves and fresh, grasping tendrils in the middle of the summer.
There are a lot of projects going on at Brimwood Farm, from wildflower meadows and owl nesting boxes, to bluebell groves and coppicing. One job I was very keen to get on top of before the growing season really starts was the messy thicket at the top of the pit. The quarry is a fantastic wildlife area, but needed some major landscaping. Our weekend work-parties normally camp at the top of pit in grassy ground regular kept mown by rabbits. But I thought it would be nice to clear the brambles so we can actually see into the pit and watch the deer, owls, badgers and other creatures in the area.
The grand plan is that after bramble clearing has taken place, stock fencing will be erected around the edge and – eventually, steps cut into the hillside so there’s actually a path into this area. Beneath the fencing, roses and lavender will be planted for bees and insects, along with rosemary for barbecues and sage for giving the bonfires are fabulous smell. The top area also gets a lot of sun, so I’d like to plant some edible nut trees (walnuts, sweet chestnuts etc), a fig tree and a couple of lovely little crab apples too.
Armed with a rake and a pair of secateurs, and with a bonfire at the ready, the clearance started. Actually, it’s fairly easy. The rake had a two-pronged approach; bash the top of the brambles to break old and dead stems, and then heave the tendrils out straight to make them easier to cut. I could then just rake bundles of material onto the low-smoking bonfire to get rid of the mess.
Now, it has to be said that the brambles aren’t exactly cleared. I still have a lot of work to do to dig out the plants from the soil. However, now the thicket is cleared away, it’ll be a lot easier to keep on top of things. Next up – along with digging out – comes getting the fence in. And I’m sure it’s not going to be easy as this is an old dump site filled with concrete and other odds and ends, so actually digging down into the soil deep enough for stable posts could be a challenge. Still, armed with a fence post digger and some determination (and probably quite a bit of swearing) I hope that, by summer, we can actually get some landscaping finished and plants in!