Tales from the Wood

Lorem ipsum dolor

Lorem ipsum dolor

Rhododendron Meets The Slasher

The Slasher or sometimes called a Brushing Hook is a much underrated woodland tool. Its primary purpose is to cut and clear brash and stem material, and it was used extensively to cut back hedgerows in the days before tractor-driven flails came into widespread use.

It takes some getting used to, as the cutting sweep has to be aimed upwards, so cutting along the direction of growth. It feels strange at first, as you don't get the same momentum as you would with the more familiar downward or horizontal swing of tools like axes and sledge hammers. On rhododendrons, it works a treat (although I do sometimes resort to a powered brush cutter).

And talking of rhododendrons - the new coppice plantation has been plagued with these invasive plants since replanting, so once again I've cut them back, but this time around, I've treated the cut stems with biocide, which I must admit, I don't like doing. However, spot treatment is much less environmentally damaging than spraying, and it's the only solution at this stage, as pulling plants out with a tractor is not an option amongst the densely packed saplings.

Perhaps not a surprise, but there was no sign of insect life or ground plants anywhere near the rhododendron bushes. Rhododendron ponticum are allelopathic and exude biochemicals which prevent the germination of any competing species, and as the leaves are toxic, they are never grazed down by deer, hare or other mammals. On the whole, they are bad news, at least in this part of the world.

Oh, and the seedlings have a nasty habit of setting up home, right next to tree roots. Clever little Ponticums!