Copyright © 2008 Walter L. Meagher. All rights reserved.
In the New England colonies, in the 17th century, timber was plentiful for houses, fuel, tools, and ships, but to plant corn the trees had to be felled and their massive stumps dug up. The forest was a blessing but also a curse, concealing savages and birthing wild beasts. In England, trees were commercially valuable on a small scale but in the mid or even early 20th century, many wood-lots and coppices fell idle. Two of the three old woods of Deddington parish are coppice woods (see Chapter 4): the Old Spinney, a hazel coppice on Leadenporch Farm, and Ilbury Wood, an ash wood on Ilbury Farm. Deddington farmers grow cereals and oil-seed rape, and raise sheep, but timber trees, particularly ash and oak - which grow plentifully in the hedgerows - have no local commercial value. In the last two decades of the 20th century, new values took hold and trees were planted in many places, sometimes inappropriately, to increase atmospheric oxygen, buffer temperature change, provide essential habitat for wildlife, protect and increase biodiversity, forestall encroachment on greenbelts, and enhance the beauty of the countryside (Photo 11.1).
Map 11.1: The new plantations of Deddington parish.
Key: Farmland plantations (A-E, G-H, O-T) shown on this map are identified in Table 11.1. Non-farmland plantings and plantations are: Windmill Centre (F), Gaveston Gardens (I), Daeda's Wood (J), Swerford House (K), The Paddocks (L), Home Farm Works (M), The Beeches (N), and the Old Rubbish Tip (U).
|Farm||Sector||Map Location*||Field Name||Nearest Hedge**||Area (hectares)||Taxa-count|
|IV||D||Old Kiln/Brick Yard||H671||2.00||14|
|VII||P||Black Tank Shelter Belt||H336||0.35||15|
'Since 1978 Cherwell District Council has been offering grant aid in order to promote conservation works which are of aesthetic, wildlife and public benefit.' In this period, six plantations have been established on College Farm, six on Castle Farm, and one on Tomwell Farm.
Alder Wood on Home Farm (Chapter 4) is a plantation of an earlier epoch, conceived in the post-war model of one species of tree planted in rows; this is shown to be on wet ground on the 1793 Davis map of the parish. A second plantation of alder (Alnus glutinosa) was made on ground belonging to Home Farm Works (M) (see Map 11.1), also generally wet and no longer cultivated, on the edge of the Old Spinney. In total, 431 alder trees have been planted as follows: The Butts (31), Nobbs Nest (89), Daeda's Wood (130), and Home Farm Works (181). Wilson's Gorse (S) on Castle Farm is both a wood with mature trees planted by the former owner (Chapter 4), with a smaller plantation added to it, in 1994, on its western margin.
During the 1990s the availability of subsidies for planting trees, both from the Cherwell District Council and the Forestry Commission, attracted farmers who were willing to take the initiative for such works, and who possessed steep or wet ground which was less productive than better fields. For example, in 1994 Roger Nobbs of Castle Farm, with the help of subsidy, enlarged a plantation in the field called The Butts (O), and planted trees at Black Tank Shelter Belt (P) and Pond Piece (T); with similar aid in 1996 he planted Nobbs Nest (Q), the largest of his plantations with 3.2 ha in trees and shrubs. Most recently, in 2002, Mr Nobbs has planted Jubilee Spinney (R).
Like The Butts and Wilson's Gorse, the Old Kiln (D), also called Brick Yard, is a site of mature trees to which a new plantation has been added; of all parish plantations it is the one that has fared poorly. Once the lawn and garden of a house, the grounds of the Old Kiln harbour survivors of an earlier time: ash (Fraxinus excelsior), crack-willow (Salix fragilis), English elm (Ulmus procera), European silver-fir (Abies alba), grey poplar (Populus x canescens), horse-chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum), and silver birch (Betula pendula). For the sake of a site record, these species were counted with the younger trees of the newer planting in Table 11.4. Eager colonists on the site include elder (Sambucus nigra), goat willow (Salix caprea), and common hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna). Recently planted species are English oak (Quercus robur), poplar (Populus sp.), sessile oak (Quercus petraea), and wild cherry (Prunus avium).
'Cosy Lane' (H) is the name given to the largest plantation visible to the public walking along the lane of the same name; it is on College Farm land on the field called Dairy Ground (H). The Rookery (G) is a much smaller and older plantation north of Cosy Lane to which James Calcutt has added new trees. With a recommended stocking rate of 1,020 trees/ha, 2,805 trees were planted at 'Cosy Lane', including The Rookery. More recently, the 'Cosy Lane' plantation was enlarged to 5.9 ha, so that now there are 7,005 trees, including 2,451 oak, 1,751 ash, 1,050 wild cherry, 700 lime, and 350 each of field maple (Acer campestre), hornbeam (Carpinus betula), and silver birch, with a few apple and common whitebeam (Sorbus aria) trees. Common hawthorn is an older planting.
Due to the vision, initiative, and labour of Dennis Washington and John Scott, Deddington parish has extensive plantings of trees on its verges. 'My first planting', John Scott writes in a letter dated 7 May 2002, 'was the cherries around the Windmill and along the Banbury road up to the Council Depot. Brian Fuller organised a mechanical digger and I was helped by several people, including Eric Dodwell. In the following year, 1981, I was helped in the digging and planting by the W.R.I. [Women's Royal Institute] of Deddington who worked on the oaks and hornbeams along the west verge of the Banbury road. Afterwards I dug and planted myself each year, and of course maintained the earlier plantings by lopping, pruning, and grass cutting with my scythe'.
The plantings of greatest effect are the horse-chestnut trees along the Hempton Road, the B4031. The luxuriance of leaf and candelabra of blossom transforms the ridge road above the flanking hill slopes into a nuptial boulevard. The horse-chestnut trees on the verge west of Hempton (48 trees), forming an entrance to the village on the Chipping Norton side and immediately east of Hempton, with the same effect on the Deddington side (94 trees), were planted c. 1977 by Dennis Washington to commemorate the Queen's Silver Jubilee. John Scott planted five horse-chestnut trees between the cemetery and Swere Paddocks along the Hempton Road. The results of an inventory, made in June 2002, of the number of horse-chestnut trees and their condition, east from Hempton, are shown in Table 11.2. Injuries have been caused by mowers damaging the bark, and leaving wounds untreated.
|South Side||North Side|
|No. Uninjured||% Uninjured||No. Uninjured||% Uninjured|
|No. Injured||% Injured||No. Injured||% Injured|
John Scott's vision extended beyond the ornamentation of the Hempton Road. Waste ground (in which category he placed the verges of highways and lanes) should support useful trees, and bear fruit and nuts as well as valuable timber. Scott's favourite trees were oak, walnut, and wild cherry; walnut trees had never before been planted on verges. While his vision included the freedom to pick fruit in public places, it is unlikely the trees will be harvested. In 1982-3, Mr Scott planted four different kinds of trees on the verges of the Milton Gated Road (and not therefore listed in the table of plantation trees): black walnut (Juglans nigra), introduced from the USA; the native wild cherry; common walnut (J. regia), a species introduced in early times; and sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa), probably introduced by the Romans. On the verge of the Windmill Centre (F), he planted wild pear (Pyrus pyraster) and wild cherry. In 1990, Mr Scott planted oaks on the verge of the Duns Tew Road by College Farm, sweet chestnut on the crest of Steepness Hill, and Swedish whitebeam (Sorbus intermedia) on the verge of the Barford Road from Hempton. In following years, up to 1993, he planted common walnut and wild cherry trees along Paper Mill Lane, various trees at King's Spring and along a hedgerow leading down towards Leadenporch Farm.
Table 11.3: John Scott's Plantings Along Lanes and Verges Excluding Trees at King's Spring and Near Leadenporch Farm
At the Old Rubbish Tip (U) beside the Banbury Road, a site bounded by H199 and H200, the ground is uneven, pitted with diggings, and coarse with broken glass. It is not visited or seen from the road by passers-by. Trees and shrubs adventitious to the site are: ash, blackthorn (Prunus spinosa), hawthorn, elder, English oak, field maple, hazel (Corylus avellana), rowan (Sorbus aucuparia), silver birch, sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus), and weeping willow (Salix x sepulcralis). To these volunteers John Scott added aspen (Populus tremula), balsam-poplar (P. 'Balsam Spire'), beech (Fagus sylvatica), horse-chestnut, osier '(Salix viminalis), service-tree (Sorbus domestica), walnut, and wild cherry.
From 1999 to 2000, Alistair and Kate Irvine (K) planted 1,400 woody plants in their grounds at Swerford House above the lane to Deddington Mill and overlooking the River Swere at Daeda's Wood, comprising 30 taxa: alder (Alnus glutinosa var. laciniata), alder (A. incana var. aurea), birch (Betula utilis var. jacquemontii), birch (B. pendula var. dalecarlica), bird cherry (Prunus padus), blackthorn, buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), common whitebeam, field maple, goat willow, grey alder (Alnus incana), grey willow (Salix cinerea), holm oak (Quercus francetta), horse-chestnut, Hubei rowan (Sorbus hupehensis), Italian alder (Alnus cordata), large-leaved lime (Tilia platyphyllos), paper birch (Betula papyrifera), rowan (Sorbus commixta), rowan (S. 'Joseph Rock'), silver birch, spindle (Euonymus europaeus), sweet chestnut, white dogwood (Cornus alba, introduced), and wild cherry. Ash, English oak, hornbeam, and small-leaved lime (Tilia cordata) were planted in new hedges.
The Paddocks (L), owned and managed by the Irvines for the conservation of its wildflower and woody plant life, is a small plantation of 215 trees occupying approximately one third of the 2.4 ha field adjoining the Milton Gated Road on the north side (H221) with: 1 apple, 1 wild cherry, 16 rowan, 21 alder, 46 field maple, 48 birch, and 82 sycamore. Sycamore will become dominant and darken the site and may offer a much less diverse insect fauna on its leaves and bark than oak.
Recent Cherwell District Council initiatives, one at The Beeches (N), the other at Gaveston Gardens (I), have greatly added to the afforestation of Deddington village. The plantation at 16 The Beeches (75 m2) was installed with 872 woody plants in 1994-7 pursuant to a council mandate, giving the house and its neighbour a shelter belt. The southern boundary is planted with a new hawthorn hedge. Short-lived trees - 59 silver birch, 69 wild cherry - are growing among medium-lived trees - 8 field maple, 62 hawthorn, 63 ash, 91 Corsican pine (Pinus nigra ssp. laricio) and long-lived trees - 63 beech, 70 English oak, 72 small-leaved lime. Corsican pine, an introduced taxon, makes its first and only appearance here. In the understorey of the planting grid are 18 dogwood (Cornus sanguinea), 34 holly (Ilex aquifolium), and 61 hazel. Nearby a hedge was planted with 10 white dogwood, 40 box-leaved honeysuckle (Lonicera pileata, introduced), 49 sweet-briar rose (Rosa rubiginosa), 53 snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus, introduced), 55 wayfaring-tree (Viburnum lantana), and 86 rowan. Older plantings are Austrian pine (Pinus nigra ssp. nigra), honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum), and Norway maple (Acer platanoides).
At Gaveston Gardens, the developer was required by the Cherwell District Council to provide a 'land barrier' to the north of 38 plots, and to plant trees and shrubs in such assemblages as might seem natural. Trees were spread evenly throughout the area, and shrubs, in groups of three to five species each, were planted between the trees to achieve 1.5 m spacing between all the plants. Unlike at Alder Wood on Home Farm, Clifton, the aim was to enrich the site and simulate the apparently random distribution of species in a natural wood. The one unusual plant in these assemblages is olive willow (Salix elaeagnos), a shrub of a dense, bushy habit, with linear leaves, white beneath, grey becoming green above, introduced to Great Britain in about 1820. Planted at Gaveston Gardens are: 38 ash, 47 English oak, 80 common whitebeam, 113 field maple, 146 wild cherry, 210 blackthorn, 210 elder, 274 silver birch, 355 wayfaring-tree, 480 hawthorn, 885 olive willow, and 1,605 holly. Almond willow (Salix triandra), hazel, purple willow (Salix purpurea), and white willow (S. alba) are older plantings.
The Woodland Trust sponsored the planting of Daeda's Wood (J) - 3,500 trees in 1996 - the first of 250 new woods created on a 3.68 ha field by the River Swere, part of the Woods-on-your-Doorstep project. Many of the trees and all of the wildflowers were planted by local residents. A dozen of the seedling English oaks were grown from acorns from the ancient oak trees of Windsor Great Park. Daeda's Wood exemplifies the new values of late 20th-century plantations: trees are planted for their own sake, quite independently of commercial value. The landscape architect mimics nature, abandoning straight rows, planting a variety of trees and shrubs on the assumption that nature prefers variety. The new wood is managed in the new way: fallen limbs are left for the processes of degradation by fungi and invertebrate organisms, returning cellulose to soil. Values of landscape beauty and public amenity satisfy the short-term needs of an urban people (Photo 11.2).
The Daeda's Wood plantings include: 15 aspen, 15 black-poplar (Populus nigra) with both male and female trees, 40 guelder rose (Viburnum opulus), 85 blackthorn, 85 hawthorn, 85 purple willow, 120 almond willow, 120 goat willow, 120 white willow, 130 alder, 130 osier, 200 crack-willow, 210 grey poplar, 840 English oak, and 1,485 ash.
Almond and purple willows are unique to this site, occurring nowhere else in the parish, and the wine-dark stems of purple willow are especially attractive; osier occurs here and in only one other parish site, the Castle Grounds. Guelder rose is most abundant in Daeda's Wood. Black-poplar, a species under-represented in the Oxfordshire flora, is a welcome addition to Deddington woodland. While thinning, pruning, and replacement of trees are the responsibility of the Woodland Trust, the Friends of Daeda's Wood are the guardians of the site, and organise the annual picnic to celebrate the first new woodland planted in the millennium year.
Taxa List (Table 11.4)
From the point of view of fortifying native biological diversity at all levels of the tree of life, native trees and shrubs should be planted in preference to introduced ones. The Ancient Tree Forum, for example, encourages the planting of native black-poplar in preference to introduced poplars. Of the 74 taxa of trees and shrubs in the new plantations of Deddington parish, 20 taxa are introduced, counting the fully naturalized sycamore. Introductions, in preference to native trees and shrubs, are more common in government-sponsored and private initiative plantings than on farmland. There are four non-native taxa of alder at Swerford House; of these, Italian alder is 'one of the handsomest of the alders, [a] tree ... not planted enough'. Of the three pines on the parish plantations, two are subspecies, each is introduced. Corsican pine is considered the most important of the black pines used in British forestry.
A strong preference for oak trees is not uniformly asserted in the Deddington parish plantations, but at two sites its presence is substantial: 'Cosy Lane' (2,451 oaks) and Daeda's Wood (840 oaks). Overall, oak is more frequently planted than any other taxa, occurring at 16 (76%) out of 21 plantation sites; its nearest neighbours, birch, field maple, and hazel, occur at 62% of the sites. Oak is abundant at The Beeches (70 saplings), The Butts (66), and Gaveston Gardens (47). The total number of oak trees in these five plantations is 3,474. The native wood of much of Oxfordshire is ash-maple-hazel, and these species are well-represented in the new plantings (Photo 11.3).
|Alder (Alnus glutinosa)||J||L||M||O||Q||R||S|
|Alder (Alnus glutinosa var. laciniata)||K|
|Alder (Alnus incana var. aurea)||K|
|Alder, Grey (Alnus incana)||K|
|Alder, Italian (Alnus cordata)||K|
|Apple (Malus sylvestris)||H||L||Q||R|
|Ash (Fraxinus excelsior)||A||B||C||D||E||F||G||H||I||J||K||N||O||P||Q||R||S||U|
|Aspen (Populus tremula)||E||F||J||U|
|Beech (Fagus sylvatica)||G||N||P||U|
|Birch (Betula utilis var. jacquemontii)||K|
|Birch (Betula pendula var. dalecarlica)||K|
|Birch, Paper (Betula papyrifera)||K|
|Birch, Silver (Betula pendula)||A||B||C||D||H||I||K||L||M||N||Q||R||U|
|Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa)||A||I||J||K||U|
|Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)||A||K|
|Cherry, Bird (Prunus padus)||K|
|Cherry, Wild (Prunus avium)||A||B||C||D||F||G||H||I||K||L||N||P||U|
|Chestnut, Horse- (Aesculus hippocastanum)||D||K||U|
|Chestnut, Sweet (Castanea sativa)||K|
|Cypress, Lawson's (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana)||O|
|Cypress, Leyland (Cupressocyparis leylandii)||O||T|
|Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea)||N||Q||R||T|
|Dogwood, White (Cornus alba)||K||N|
|Elder (Sambucus nigra)||D||I||U|
|Elm, English (Ulmus procera)||D|
|Fir, European Silver- (Abies alba)||D||O||P||T|
|Guelder Rose (Viburnum opulus)||F||J||P||Q|
|Hawthorn, Common (Crataegus monogyna)||A||D||H||I||J||N||U|
|Hazel (Corylus avellana)||A||B||C||I||N||O||P||Q||R||S||T||U|
|Holly (Ilex aquifolium)||G||I||N||P||Q||T|
|Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum)||N|
|Honeysuckle, Box-leaved (Lonicera pileata)||N|
|Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus)||A||C||H||K||T|
|Larch (Larix decidua)||A||F||O||P||Q||R||S||T|
|Lime, Large-leaved (Tilia platyphyllos)||B||C||H||K||P|
|Lime, Small-leaved (Tilia cordata)||K||N|
|Maple, Field (Acer campestre)||A||B||C||F||H||I||K||L||N||O||Q||S||U|
|Maple, Norway (Acer platanoides)||A||E||N||Q|
|Oak, English (Quercus robur)||A||B||C||D||F||G||H||I||J||K||N||O||Q||R||S||U|
|Oak, Holm (Quercus francetta)||K|
|Oak, Sessile (Quercus petraea)||D|
|Osier (Salix viminalis)||J||U|
|Pear, Wild (Pyrus pyraster)||G|
|Pine, Austrian (Pinus nigra ssp. nigra)||N||P|
|Pine, Corsican (Pinus nigra ssp. laricio)||N|
|Pine, Scots (Pinus sylvestris)||O||P|
|Poplar (Populus sp.)||D|
|Poplar, Hybrid Balsam- (Populus 'Balsam Spire')||U|
|Poplar, Black- (Populus nigra)||J|
|Poplar, Grey (Populus x canescens)||D||J||P|
|Privet, Wild (Ligustrum vulgare)||Q||R|
|Rose, Sweet-briar (Rosa rubiginosa)||N|
|Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia)||F||K||L||N||P||Q||R||T||U|
|Rowan (Sorbus commixta)||K|
|Rowan, Hubei (Sorbus hupehensis)||K|
|Rowan (Sorbus 'Joseph Rock')||K|
|Service-tree (Sorbus domestica)||U|
|Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)||N|
|Spindle (Euonymus europaeus)||K||Q||R||T|
|Spruce, Norway (Picea abies)||Q||R|
|Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus)||G||L||P||U|
|Walnut, Common (Juglans regia)||U|
|Wayfaring-tree (Viburnum lantana)||I||N||P||Q||R|
|Whitebeam, Common (Sorbus aria)||H||I||K|
|Willow, Almond (Salix triandra)||I||J|
|Willow, Crack- (Salix fragilis)||D||F||J||O|
|Willow, Goat (Salix caprea)||D||J||K|
|Willow, Grey (Salix canescens)||K|
|Willow, Olive (Salix elaeagnos)||I|
|Willow, Purple (Salix purpurea)||I||J|
|Willow, Weeping (Salix x sepulcralis)||U|
|Willow, White (Salix alba)||I||J|
|Yew (Taxus baccata)||O|
|B||Dairy Ground*||M||Home Farm Works|
|D||Old Kiln/Brick Yard*||O||The Butts*|
|E||Barn Ground*||P||Black Tank Shelter Belt*|
|F||Windmill Centre||Q||Nobbs Nest*|
|G||The Rookery (College Farm)*||R||Jubilee Spinney*|
|H||'Cosy Lane' on Dairy Ground*||S||Wilson's Gorse*|
|I||Gaveston Gardens||T||Pond Piece*|
|J||Daeda's Wood||U||Old Rubbish Tip|
|*Plantations on farms|
Jim Calcutt, Peter Mahon, Roger Nobbs, and Sylvie Spenceley provided detailed information of trees and shrubs planted on College Farms, 16 The Beeches, Castle Farm and Daeda's Wood respectively. Map by Peter Terry. Drafts of the chapter were read, and corrections made by, Anita Jo Dunn, John Killick, Joan Todd and Bob Worth. Research funded in part by the New York Community Trust - Worth Fund. Edited and designed by Wendy Meagher, and put on the web by Martin Reed.
copyright © 2004 Walter L. Meagher
These chapters are extracts from The Natural History of Deddington Parish by Walter L. Meagher, to be published in 2009.
This material is reproduced by kind permission of Walter L. Meagher. The material has been reformatted for the web by Martin Reed, but is otherwise unabridged.