Posts Tagged ‘pruning’

Friday, March 4, 2011

Coppicing and Pollarding

Coppice stool

Many relics of medieval woodland management techniques, such as this coppice stool, can be found in the British countryside.

Although evidence of medieval systems of woodland management can be found throughout Europe, the following post is based on studies of ancient British woodlands and their management, especially as discussed in the work of Dr. Oliver Rackham, an acknowledged authority in the field. Updated versions of many of Dr. Rackham’s older works have been revised and reprinted. His most recent book, Woodlands, was published in 2009. The term “ancient woodland” is used to designate areas that have been continuously wooded since at least 1600 and is thus applied to woodlands of medieval date.

Pollarding, a technique of woodland management discussed in last week’s post, afforded a valuable renewable resource. A pollarded tree was pruned back drastically at the top, above the browse line, in order to protect the crop from grazing animals in areas where livestock had access to the trees. Read more »

Friday, March 13, 2009

Grapevines at The Cloisters

Grapevines in the courtyard of The Cloisters Pruning the grapevines in the courtyard Emerging leaf on the Concord grape

Above, from left to right: Grapevines have long been trained against the south-facing wall of the courtyard; Kevin Wiecks prunes last year’s growth back to a few dormant buds; the pink of the new foliage is transitory but beautiful.

Wine and wine grapes were of great economic and symbolic importance in the Middle Ages. Vineyards were associated both with royal and noble estates and with monasteries. Medieval wines were drunk new, and spiced wines, or piments, were also enjoyed. Wine was not only a beverage but a medicament, and the Tacuinum Sanitatis recommends grapes as a purifying and nourishing food. Read more »