Late again …

Well, the good intentions went by the board, didn’t they?  And here we are again, nearly a month later.

People are weird, aren’t they?  Of course, I include myself in that.  Anyone who, when they’re flush, can’t decide which of two items to buy, so decides to buy both, must be a little odd, don’t you think?

But, let us return to our sheep, as the French would say, and consider some of the behaviours people who walk round our little Elysian Fields known as HBUF can get up to.

First of all, there are those (or just one person, who knows?) who can’t bear to let foxgloves grow there.  Being fairly successful wild flowers, foxgloves will self-seed given the right circumstances so, when we planted them, we kind of expected to see more and more as time went on.  However, no foxglove that has ever reared its head there has been allowed to settle and produce little ones.  No sooner planted than, whoosh, they have disappeared almost overnight.  Is this someone who thinks too much about the poisonous nature of the foxglove (digitalis) and therefore wishes to eradicate it?  In which case, I wonder if they should consider doing the same with rhubarb, tomatoes, cabbage, peanuts and, no doubt, lots more common or garden (sorry about the pun) items that we have in our food cupboards.

There are so many plants that, yes, contain toxins while, at the same time, being a boon to wildlife.  In looking up poisonous plants, I find that elderberries and elderflowers are poisonous to humans when they are not ripe, but they are a delicious meal for some insects and birds.  And how could we eradicate the yew tree?  Such an amazing species, that can live for hundreds of years.  And who would want to get rid of laburnum trees and wisteria, that give such pleasure to the eye?  Neither could we dismiss the humble willow tree, many of which may be found in our woodland.  What about holly, and ivy then?  Look them up.

Apologies for the lecture, but really!  Is anyone going to start eating foxgloves, for goodness’ sake?

Another odd behaviour that has been observed is that of the person or persons who does not approve of tree guards, so systematically removed them on a regular basis. This all started with our first tree plantings.  One day, there all the little whips were, nicely guarded and, the next, the guards would be pulled off and laid beside them on the ground.  Often beautifully neat, each one beside its little tree; but sometimes all piled up in a heap.  So one (or two, or several) of us would put them all on again.  And, shortly afterwards, the same thing would happen once more.  There were suspicions as to who it might be, but no certainties.  But, as I said at the start, people are weird sometimes.  And there must be some belief that the guards do no good or, even worse, cause harm.  They are there to protect the bark from the deer, who nibble the little trees dry, thus killing them.  They are also a protection from rabbits, but we don’t have any of those (we sincerely hope).

The young trees are, by the way, looking wonderful, despite all these odd events.  And those that are growing in the centre of the brambles have really shot up.  Such a pleasure.

So now it’s the festive season again.  HBUF are invited, once more, to provide a tree and to decorate it in St Barnabas.  We’ll be doing this next weekend, so come along and have a look at it.  Well, come along on Friday and take part in it.  There are lots of groups that contribute to this annual Christmas tree provision and decoration, with the result that St Barnabas looks splendid.

One last thing: the December meeting  will not take place.  Our next meeting will be on Monday 14th January 2019 – 7.00 pm as usual, at St Barnabas small hall.

Late again … Read More »

16 November 2018

The road to hell, they say, is paved with good intentions, so my failure to write a blog every week has taken me a fair way down that path to Hades, given that it must be at least three weeks since I wrote the last one.

Those last few weeks have been hugely busy, with applications for grants passing backwards and forwards between us, clarifying this and altering that, in our pursuit of financing current projects.  It was a situation where we were, to echo the late, great Arthur Haynes (what, you’ve never heard of him? Well, I suppose this is harking back to the 1960s), “up to our necks in muck and bullets”.  It is amazing to realise how long it takes to fill in forms, not to mention the forms that are generated by the initial forms – for example, one of the bodies we are applying to might, it seems, take exception to the fact that our bank account bears our original name, the “Hreod Burna Parkway Preservation Group”, while the Trust is now called, as you know, the “Hreod Burna Urban Forest”.

So here we are filling in the form to request a ‘change of title’ in our bank account and cheque book.  Should I point out to that grant-giving body that the bank has a spelling mistake in the word ‘preservation’?  Probably not a good idea to do that.  But you wouldn’t believe how much information you have to give the bank on that form – the dates of birth of all the Trustees, their addresses (fair enough) and then, not just how many years they have lived at that same address, but the number of months too.

It is, therefore, refreshing to reflect on how many things have been happening over at our mixed woodland.

It’s really hard, by the way, to talk about the area in ordinary conversation.  You can’t say, ‘I’m just going to walk the dog over at the urban forest’, as it sounds just a bit pretentious, not to mention la-di-da; and neither can you say, ‘I’m just off with the dog over to our Hreod Burna place’ or even ‘’Me and the dog are going for our walk over in the mixed woodland and meadowland’.  All of these, while accurate, might lead to other people looking at you somewhat askance.  Can’t somebody come up with a good idea for how to refer to it, and I’d rather avoid, ‘pleasure ground, public walk and open space’ as well.  Referring to HBUF is often the default.  It doesn’t really trip off the tongue, though – ‘I’m taking the dog for a walk in H BUF’.

So, back to the refreshing reflections now.  The three willows that were giving us a bit of concern have now been coppiced and/or pollarded and the pathway through the woodland behind them has now been opened up.  Don’t worry about the coppicing/pollarding, willows are sturdy creatures and will soon shoot again; just look at the willow beside the weir to see the truth of that.

You will notice, too, that more work is taking place on the footpath surfaces through the woodland.  We spent a lot of time, and many volunteers gave of their wonderful energy earlier on this year, on creating a cut through the bank leading from the weir so that there might be a level path for anyone using wheels to be able to take a circular walk through the woods.  We were foiled by the weather to some extent, where the hoggin we had originally put down at one point was solidified by the cold and snow before we had a chance to level it out properly.  But now, over a period of weeks, this work is going to be tackled once more and we should end up with a much more satisfactory surface.  Watch this (or, rather, those) space(s).

Those more discerning than I, alas, who notices things only if someone points me in the right direction, will have remarked upon the seven whips that have been planted in Ballman Field.  These are two rowans, two silver birch, two hazelnut and a holly.  Five of these were a gift from a lady who, having applied for trees from the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy programme, which initiative started in 2015, subsequently moved into a flat with no garden.

A group has also been let loose in Tiverton Field.  Our redoubtable members have been labouring for some weeks, no, months, together with help from groups from Nationwide, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, and Community Payback teams, to mow, clear out litter from the stream, clear brush and blackthorn, and generally work towards the start of creating another wildflower area.  This is not so straightforward as just sowing the seeds, but requires a lot of patience, hard work and expertise.  We are hoping to get a bit more expertise on the case soon.

And that’s quite enough for now.  See you next week?

16 November 2018 Read More »

Progress – one step forward and half a step back – 26th October 2018

Well, it’s amazing how much energy it takes to find stuff out.  Apparently we at HBUF have been giving out an official postcode (for giving any blue-light services an idea of whereabouts we were) that actually belongs to Clive Parade, up near the Moonrakers.  No wonder no one could find us, using that postcode.  I rang the official Royal Mail postcode line (something like 50p a minute – correct me if I’m wrong) to find out what postcode we had.  Surprise, surprise – we can’t have a postcode as Royal Mail can’t deliver mail anywhere that doesn’t have a letter box.  Hmm.  That’s obvious, really.  So any really large areas of land have to use the postcodes that are adjacent to them.  Even somewhere as locally famous as Coate Water.  Though since that is on local maps, and is well-known locally, blue-light services would have no difficulty in finding it.  But just saying.

So the reason that we needed to know our ‘official’ postcode was that we have been looking at applying for grants to help us realise our ‘Ten Thousand Trees’ project.  It seems so straightforward, doesn’t it?  We are an urban forest – our remit is to plant trees.  Who can argue with the good reasons for planting trees?  Apparently woodland is one of those things (can it be called a ‘thing’) that promotes good mental health.  Just as (sweeping statement here, but does anyone really want me to cite chapter and verse and this study and that study?) being in a place where you can see green open spaces can promote healing.  By the way, I can find out those studies, if you wish.  It’ll just take a little longer.

‘Ten Thousand Trees’ needs to have a consultation exercise, so expect to be consulted in the near(ish) future.  ‘ish’ is a very useful suffix, isn’t it?

It is all very exciting but, at the same time, a drain on one’s patience.  Growing trees is a decades-long notion, so when I feel as though things aren’t moving fast enough, I have to remember that oak trees can live for hundreds of years, yew trees (we weren’t thinking of planting yews, by the way) can live for thousands, and willow trees can be a bloomin’ nuisance, dropping branches whenever they feel like it.

Don’t forget, all you people who live out there in the greater Gorse Hill and Pinehurst community, we have regular meetings at 7.00pm at St Barnabas small hall on the second Monday of every month (though we didn’t have a meeting in December 2017), and anyone is welcome.  You don’t have to say anything if you don’t want to, and no one will force you to do anything either.  If you enjoy the space and amenities of the Hreod Burna Urban Forest, then come and talk to us.  You could even become a member …

Progress – one step forward and half a step back – 26th October 2018 Read More »

Minutes of Meeting, April 2018

Present at meeting: Kate Henery, Steve Thompson, Josie Lewis, Bob Sherman, Amanda Musto, Marieanna MacPherson, Mary Farragher

Apologies for absence: Sue Gwinnell, Stuart Batsford

Minutes of last meeting: Josie stated that she had amendments; Steve moved that the meeting accept the unamended minutes as an accurate record and this was passed.

Matters Arising:

  • Josie handed out an extended version of the minutes which the meeting dismissed as an irrelevancy.
  • Steve asked Josie to email to him the quote for planings that she had found.
  • Celtic Tree Calendar: Kate has estimated the costs at £1,200 inclusive.
  • New bank account: Kate is starting the process online (as the bank has indicated).
  • Mini opinion poll: Amanda reported a positive response to this. She will bring the results to May’s meeting.  Hedgehog run query as well.
  • Tree pruning: Steve reported that the Council has not got the budget for this, but that Rob Cove would send someone out to have a look.

Chairman’s Report:

Steve has paid the bee-hive deposit; he will advertise exactly when it is to take place via Facebook.


The wrong mini-dumper was delivered so we have to wait a little longer for the one we want.

Jobs for Well-being Group:

This is for Mon 23rd April.  Steve suggested that concrete posts, wire mesh, rubble should be taken to one spot next to the sleeper bridge, where it should be covered with topsoil and chippings (with reminder about wearing of masks).


  • Steve suggested droppable bollard at main entrance – all in favour; he will get an estimate.
  • Josie – road planings quote from a council source
  • Reminder of Britain in Bloom in July; any photos please send to Steve who will pass on to Richard
  • Litter-picking along cycle track a good idea.
  • Concern about presence (and possible source) of used nappies being dumped in the woodland.

Meeting closed at 7.55.

Next Meeting: 7.00, Monday 14th May, St Barnabas Small Hall.

Minutes of Meeting, April 2018 Read More »


The Hreod Burna Urban Forest charity was set up to promote the provision of woodlands as a public amenity, for the benefit of the people of Gorse Hill, Pinehurst and the surrounding area. This is our online home for the latest news, information and events.

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