Posts Tagged ‘willow’

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, February 25, 2011

Woodswoman, Pollard That Tree

Frances Reidy at work Detail of the pruning A pollard head

A medieval technique of hard pruning, known as pollarding, is used on the four crab apple trees in Cuxa Cloister garden to control the height of the trees and the spread of their canopies. The pruning is done in late winter, while the trees are still dormant.

Above: Frances Reidy, our arborist, cutting last spring’s growth back to the same “head” as the previous spring’s. This successive hard pruning produces the “knuckles” of tissue characteristic of pollarded trees. This is the third year in which the technique has been applied; the knuckles at the head of the branches will become more pronounced as the pollard matures.

Read more »

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Green Place to Rest

Between the level turf and the herbs let there be a higher piece of turf made in the fashion of a seat, suitable for flowers and amenities; the grass in the sun’s path should be planted with trees or vines, whose branches will protect the turf with shade and cast a pleasant refreshing shadow.

—Book VIII, Chapter I: “On small gardens of herbs.” Piero de’ Crescenzi, Liber ruralium commodorum (1305-09). (See Catena, the Bard Graduate Center’s Digital Archive of Historic Gardens and Landscapes for more information.)

lady_honor_400

Above: Honor Making a Chaplet of Roses, ca. 1425–1450. South Netherlandish. Wool warp, wool wefts; 93 x 108 in. (236.2 x 274.3 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Cloisters Collection, 1959 (59.85). See the Collection Database to learn more about this work of art.

Turf benches were among the most distinctive features of medieval gardens, and are depicted in many paintings and tapestries. Such benches may be rectangular, circular, L-shaped, or U-shaped; the U-shaped type is known as an exedra. Regardless of their shape, the benches were usually constructed with low-walled frames made out of brick, wood, stone, or wattle (woven willow). The frames were then filled with soil and the surfaces were topped with turf. Turf seats were placed in the middle of the garden or against one of its walls, and were sometimes incorporated into the enclosure. Arbors or trellises were sometimes built into the seat to provide shade and shelter, while circular benches were constructed around single trees. Read more »