|Plant a Woodland
There is a lot of interest in woodland planting through the Glastir woodland scheme. Contact the Forestry Commission Wales for details of the grants (see links) and contact us to purchase wholesale quantities (minimum 1000 trees unless requiring shelter/mixtures with orchard purchases).
What are native trees?
Native trees colonised Britain naturally after the last ice age, 10,000 years ago. Others were brought here by man and some of these, like sycamore, have become naturalised in our woods and hedges. A few like beech and box are native to parts of the UK, but not to all. * indicates a species not generally native to Wales .
= tolerates wet ground
= good for firewood
= good in exposed areas
Suitability of species for particular sites will vary and you should seek advice/grants/consent via the above link before planting large areas.
Typical canopy trees can include:
*Carpinus betulus – Hornbeam
Hornbeam is a fairly large tree with a rounded shape and branches that fork upwards. Its timber is very dense and hard and was used for spokes, mallets and gears in windmills.
*Castanea sativa – Sweet Chestnut
Most likely first planted in Britain by the Romans, the sweet chestnut is found widely and is very useful. The timber is durable out of doors (there is very little sapwood) and is easy to split and work. It makes good fencing, hurdles, and building material. It does better in less marginal climates.
Fagus sylvatica – Beech
A large tree with smooth silvery bark the beech is widely planted and is native to the South East corner of Wales. Its wood is light in colour is used for furniture but is not durable out of doors. Planted for ornament or timber it is also widely used for hedging as it clips well to produce a dense cover. In winter the leaves turn brown but stay on the tree until the spring providing an all season screen.
Fraxinus excelsior – Ash
A tall, straight vigorous tree planted widely. The timber is strong, straight grained, and attractive with many uses. It is very good for firewood, coppicing well and requiring less seasoning. Ash requires a fairly fertile site to do well.
Quercus petrea – Sessile Oak
Of the two native oaks the sessile is common to higher altitudes. It develops a deep taproot and will grow on shale slopes and poorer sites where the soil is thin. Important for biodiversity it supports a wide range of insects. The timber is highly sought after for building, fencing and firewood and is in high demand. Oak is actually fast growing when young and when weed competition is minimised.
Quercus robur – Common (English) Oak
Like the sessile, the heartwood of the English oak is durable and survives in some of the oldest timber frame buildings still standing today. It develops a massive crown, coppices easily and makes good firewood.
Tilia cordata – Small Leaved Lime
A tall stately tree often planted in parks and along driveways. It is native to regions with limestone soils. Sought after by wood turners. The ivory keys on pianos are lime. The name is German in origin and is not related to the lemon-like fruit, which is a Citrus. It is an underrated tree and made up a significant proportion of woodland in history.
Ulmus glabra – Wych Elm
Smaller than the English elm it is found in more hostile sites. It is often planted in towns where it will tolerate pollution. Its timber is dark and red and very durable with a dense twisted grain. It was often used for boats and coffins in the days before resin coated plywood.
Shrub layers and useful mixtures:
Acer campestre – Field Maple
A compact and colourful tree often seen in hedges. It is equally good in the garden or woodland edge. It is quite rare in parts of Wales.
Corylus avellana – Hazel
An important small tree/shrub, hazels uses have ranged from coracles to charcoal, hurdles to basketry and the wattle in old plasterwork. It grows well, coppices easily and makes good hedges. Found widely in Wales it tolerates poorer conditions. Often planted as an understorey in woodlands.
Ilex aquifolium – Holly
This evergreen compact tree is slow growing and will withstand dense shade. It is often found growing under the canopy in native woodlands. The red berries are an important winter food source for birds and the wood is sought after for turning and carving.
Juglans regia – Walnut
The Walnut is a large handsome tree with dark green foliage. It is grown for timber and for the walnuts. There are many hybrids and cultivars. Plant it on the woodland edge and prune only in the summer months. Not hardy.
Malus sylvestris – Crab Apple
Commonly found in hedges and field edges. It is vigorous but compact, often producing large quantities of small bitter tasting apples in the autumn, which are good for jam. The true wild crab apple is often thorny when young and is the ancestor of all cultivated apples today. The wood is excellent for turning, carving and as firewood. Often scattered around commercial orchards to aid pollenation.
Prunus avium – Wild Cherry/Gean
Commonly found on the edges of woodlands. It is compact, vigorous and requires light to do well. Its timber is used in furniture making and it also yields abundant cherries in the autumn.
*Pyrus communis – Wild Pear
The pear ‘equivalent' to the crab apple, though much less common. It makes a good addition to a hedgerow and was commonly used as a rootstock for pear varieties. Pear is often thorny when young growing to about 15m if left alone. The timber is good for turning and carving.
Sambucus nigra – Elder
A shrub with fragrant white flowers in early summer, used for wine making and tea. If left to set the flowers yield large quantities of small black elderberries in the autumn.
Sorbus aucuparia – Rowan/Mountain Ash
Rowan is compact and hardy and can withstand strong winds. Its leaves turn red in the autumn and its numerous clusters of bright red berries are important for birds and can also be eaten in jellies and jam.
Pioneers and fast growing mixtures:
*Acer platanoides – Norway Maple
A hardy tree which is naturalised in Britain. It has a bright autumn golden colour, grows quickly and tolerates most soils. The timber is similar to sycamore: creamy, pleasant to work but not durable out of doors.
*Acer pseudoplatanus – Sycamore
A large tree, it is salt tolerant and able to withstand harsh conditions. In Wales sycamore was often planted next to a farmhouse or cottage and kitchen utensils were made from the wood, which is white in colour and pleasant to work.
Alnus glutinosa – Common Alder
The alder can fix its own nitrogen and therefore survives in wet fields and alongside streams and rivers. It also grows well in dryer areas and its conical shape is good in shelterbelts where it harbours few pests. It yields a character timber, which is fairly durable, coppices easily and makes excellent firewood. Clogs were made from alder. Sheep and rabbits are also said to avoid young saplings.
Betula pendula – Silver Birch
Birch is an important woodland tree. In the wild it is usually the first species to colonise new ground. Its leaves enrich the soil, and it grows quickly providing shelter for other trees to grow. On large schemes in exposed conditions birch is often planted to exploit this natural role.
Betula pubescens – Downey Birch
This other native birch is an important tree for wildlife and shelter. Its name refers to white hairs on the branches and twigs and it grows well in damp sites. The timber has many uses, makes good firewood but is not durable out of doors. The bark can be tapped in the spring to make wine.
Populus tremula – Aspen
Aspen grows well at altitude and in wet areas. It has a delicate shape and the leaves ‘tremble' in the wind, hence the name. It is reasonably compact and is often planted as an ornamental tree.
Salix alba – White Willow
Traditionally used for cricket bats and often grown as pollards. A large important tree in the countryside willow coppices easily and provides poles for various uses. The leaves have silver hairs, which give the tree its name.
Salix caprea – Goat willow
This small tree with bright yellow catkins is found widely in the countryside by the edges of streams and in hedges. Its seed, like the birch, is wind dispersed and it is a ‘pioneer' species. The roots of most willow will often seek out and clog drains (including field drains) so do not plant where this is likely to be a problem.
Salix fragilis – Crack willow
As the latin and common names imply: the twigs are brittle. Often found on streamsides and wet areas they help to prevent erosion. Used also to make charcoal sticks for drawing.
Salix viminalis – Osier willow
Coppiced freely, osier willow is vigorous producing many rods each year. These were known as ‘withies' meaning that they were bendable, a word now synonymous with willow. Common in basketry and useful in shelterbelts. There are many colourful varieties ( see purpurea ) and all have long narrow leaves.
To purchase smaller quantities of willows – see Parkland tree section
Coniferous Trees are also grown and can be supplied for use in mixtures.