Category Archives: Naturetale Restoration Foundation

Salad burnet Seedlings 700

Our meadow establishment trial has no steps forward – and one back

I expect that you’ve all been getting stressed, waiting for a progress update on the meadow establishment trial that we started running last Autumn.  I had expected to be faced with the challenge of finding an interesting way to write around ‘not a lot’, but in actuality I do have something to report.  Unfortunately, however, it concerns ‘progress’ in a backwards direction. Continue reading

Both budburst and the first Chiffchaff in Hillhouse wood – Spring in getting into its stride

Fieldwork for the Track a tree phenology project is now providing me with plenty of excuses to pay frequent visits to Hillhouse wood.  The warm weather over the last few days will drive bud burst, so I need to ensure that I don’t miss it.  On 10 March bud burst was visible on parts of my Hazel coppice, so I knew that this would progress rapidly.  Sure enough, my visit on 13 March revealed that buds were now bursting on all parts of the stool. Continue reading

165 Bluebell cropped

The Track a Tree phenology project continues for a third year in Hillhouse wood

As keen readers of this blog, and my Mum, will know, for the last two years I have done field work for this project.  This involves visiting some specific trees (four in my case) more or less weekly throughout the spring to record data about what is happening.  ‘Happening’ stuff involves the stage of bud burst and leaf break, and the numbers of specific species of flower that are showing underneath the tree.  By capturing this data at different sites in the UK, the project enables differences in the timing of ‘Spring’ to be rigorously identified across the country and between years.  It ran for two years to support a PhD project at the University of Edinburgh, and I’ve been glad to hear that it is continuing for a third year, at least, even though Christine has gained her qualification. Continue reading

Jan 2016 700

We have germination, but only for one of the four species

Richard had recommended that I hold a few seeds back, to use in germination trials.  This is arguably a posh way to describe sowing them in seed trays and seeing what happens.  Once sown, the trays were to be left outside (with covers) so that their situation broadly matched that of the seeds in the trial plots.  Continue reading

Stage 2 700

Putting in the plot marker pegs – a bit of a challenge, but we triumph in the end

I’m aware that I left you all in suspense at the end of the last post about the NRF meadow establishment trial, by mentioning that all did not go smoothly with the plot markers.  I had bought markers that had been recommended as the best by an experienced trial manager.  These are Feno Markers, supplied by M&P Survey Equipment Ltd, who had been kind enough to give us a ‘charity discount’ off the price, for which we are very grateful. Continue reading


Sowing the first seed for the Naturetale RF meadow trial – now we truly are up and running

We had intended to cultivate the appropriate plots and sow the seed in early November.  But Duncan felt that the soil at the trial site, which is very clayey, was too dry to form an acceptable tilth.  He was worried that it would remain in clods.  So we agreed to wait until some rain had fallen.  Luckily we did not have to wait for too long, and so we agreed to do it on 18 November. Continue reading

Measuring and mixing the seed for the meadow establishment trial

Potentially far more challenging than preparing the sand was splitting the four species of seed into the right amounts for each plot, and then mixing these with each other and the sand.  With 30,000 Meadow saxifrage seeds weighing a whopping 0.6 gram I was worried about a) how to measure this out appropriately, and b) avoiding a sneeze and losing the whole lot.  With our most sensitive scales weighing a minimum of 1 gram (but see later), this wouldn’t be done by weight.  It would have to be by sight.  At least the other three species would be straightforward, as each plot requires 1.5 grams, 3 grams and 5 grams respectively.

Or so I thought.  Continue reading

Marking out the Naturetale Restoration Foundation meadow trial plots – sort of

About ten days before we planned to cultivate the plots and sow the seed I met Duncan, our contractor, at the trial site to mark out the plots.  Armed with a measuring wheel, a very long tape measure, lots of stakes and a thumper, we planned our strategy.  Or, rather, Duncan did. Here he is, working out his cunning plan. Continue reading

Getting practical Part 3 – Preparing the plot marker pegs

Richard’s colleague had provided contact information of a stockist of the plot marker pegs, whose website had a lot of detail.  Their sales department was also helpful, so I was able to work out exactly what to buy.  They were a bit pricier than I had hoped, but the stockist (M & P Survey Equipment) kindly provided us with a charity discount, which helped.  Having looked in the box that arrived here, I’m hoping that Duncan and his men are good at puzzles, because it looks a bit like a Meccano set in there.  My job was to paint the numbers 1 through to 12 on the surface marker plates, so that in future years we know where each plot is.  I have used a Humbrol paint on the aluminium marker plates – at least I hope I’ve painted on the right bits. Continue reading

Getting practical part 2 – Measuring out the sand (is nothing simple?)

So now we knew how much sand we would need, and thus what size of containers we would need.  Duncan and I had decided that I would bring 12 ready mixed containers to the trial site on the day of the sowing, so these needed to be both water proof and secure.  I was hoping to use plastic food containers – but what size?  Continue reading