The allotment diary: clearing the wilderness area

With so many plotholders on site, it's important that communal areas are dealt with sensitively. Unfortunately, some recent clearance of the biodiversity zone overstepped the mark...

20th November 2017
bonfire

Perrett’s Park allotments are fortunate to have a dedicated wilderness and biodiversity area - an old corner plot that became excessively overgrown and is now managed for wildlife.

This autumn we marked the start of the season with some fairly extensive clearing of this patch, to prepare for the planting of an edible hedge, funded by the Woodland Trust.

We had a fine day for it, and got a huge amount done. Large logs were stacked to make a natural home for wildlife, while other bracken and prunings were burnt.

Bracken bonfire
If you decide to have a bonfire, don't leave the waste material sitting for a long time as hedgehogs may decide to hibernate in it. Image: Rosee Woodland

Bonfires are contentious things. Not only do they release carbon into the atmosphere, there is something very primal about having one. Unfortunately, this seemed to trigger an instinct for ‘hacking and burning’ among some of the working party as a few of the existing trees were pruned harder than necessary.

They should recover, but it did cause some upset on site and underlined the importance of communication.

The allotment has a Facebook group, and there had been an ongoing discussion within this group about the plan for the wilderness area, including the planting of the saplings.

bonfire
There is something primal about a bonfire. Just don't get carried away when collecting the material for it. Image: Rosee Woodland

Unfortunately, this information didn’t really translate in the posters that were put up heralding the clearing/ bonfire party and so there were some plot holders very upset about what had happened, perhaps partly because they were unaware of the ‘big picture’.

It’s really easy in this era of social media to forget that not everyone uses Facebook, Twitter and so on. There are tenants at Perrett’s Park who’ve had their allotment for decades and don’t see any need to be online, which is fair enough!

Allotment views
Perrett's Park allotments are more than 100 years old, and home to many mature trees. Image: Rosee Woodland

The saplings have been planted now, with sloes, hawthorn, dog rose, hazel, blackthorn, elder and blackberries. which should go a long way to mending fences between the veteran tenants and the relative newbies.

Hopefully by the time we’re all enjoying our first taste of sloe gin in a season or two the bitter aftertaste left by this particular weekend will be long forgotten.

Schools and community groups can apply for a variety of tree packs from the Woodland Trust. Packs are free and come with planting advice.

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