28 July 2009 I have been giving the project a rest for several weeks. During this time many plants particularly the brambles have grown at a considerable rate. In the case of brambles snaking-long primocanes have arched over Troy Track almost preventing access from east to west. Behind the tall birch a marsh thistle has grown to over 3 metres and there are grasses and etiolated phorbs flopping about everywhere.
So I took shears to it all. Shaped up the bramble hedge, cleared the route through to the west and generally made things look tidier. I enjoyed working in the sunshine to re-invigorate the project and even managed to fall over backwards when a stump holding up the seat on the eastern side of Emthree collapsed in a heap of powdered dry wood.
I found a new plant too, a seedling field rose (Rosa arvensis) in The Waste close to Butterfly Rock. A bird sowing no doubt, but a plant listed in our area as an ancient woodland indicator.
29 July 2009 After yesterday’s exertions I concluded that the whole project was overdue for a makeover. Accordingly I ‘shredded’ the birches and the sallow as high as I could reach – about three metres. (Shredding a tree means cutting the lower branches back to the trunk).
I removed all the brambles along North Wall as they have become very untidy and out of hand, casting Mice & Red into almost total shade. I have concluded that it is best to keep Emthree bramble-free in the future: there are plenty of plants in the hedge to the south of Troy Track.
After this bramble purge I cut the box bush on the northern side of the project using the vertical fall from the old washing line as the limit to which it can grow as this is virtually congruent with the Square Metre’s northern boundary.
I also hay-cut a section of The Waste on the south west side to allow more light and air onto the yellow meadow ant’s nest, which is still going strong.
My exertions certainly made the project look lean, spare and spacious and, to the tidier parts of my mind, under control with much better insolation of the original Square Metre. I feel a bit uneasy about this need to, as it were, control the wilderness, but perhaps it is deep in our human nature and I am sure it will enhance the area’s biodiversity.
I think the expression ‘biodiversity value’ when applied to an area might be better than ‘biodiversity’ as this seems to be just a count of species number. An island, for example, with a few species but mostly endemics would have a higher biodiversity value than an arable field with probably rather more species.