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We start a new seasonal series following novice woodsman Ken Browne as he develops a recently acquired tree-filled plot near his Bury St Edmunds home
 The Air Bee ‘n’ Bee - not buzzing as yet
  Have you always wanted to have a wood?
Not really - by word of mouth I heard it might come up for sale and was adjacent to my house. Having just retired I thought it might be a good project to keep me busy. So, I tracked down the vendor who, as it turned out, only lived a few streets away. It's just over two acres and we negotiated a fair price - fairly good for him that is! It's a Tree Protection Area so development is not possible. The wood itself is a very diverse mix of trees some dating back hundreds of years including oak and atlas cedars. There are also lots of yew, sycamore, sweet chestnut, corsican pine, silver birch, beech, crimean lime and wild cherry. The rest of the area is filled out by box, elderberry and holly which gives a lovely display of berries in the winter.
Does nature and wildlife interest you?
Yes, before I moved to Bury I lived in a small village in the Suffolk countryside so I'm used to seeing different animals
and birds around. I have motion detection cameras dotted around the wood and, apart from all the local cats, have captured a wide variety of animals and birds on video. These include foxes, badger, muntjac, squirrels, owls, pigeons, pheasants, robins, blackbirds, magpies, blue tits and woodpeckers. We have put up a number of bird boxes which have subsequently been occupied by robins and blue tits who have raised families in them. The owl box has been taken over by squirrels who have also bred there.
What where your first tasks?
The area had been neglected for many years and borders a B road so lots of people used it to go drinking, shooting, etc. The first task was to fence it in to provide security and then to start to clear the rubbish, barbed wire, buried concrete
Hog City: Some interest but awaiting occupancy
the chippings to create paths to open up access to all corners of the wood. Another important task was to cut off the ivy which was starting to strangle a number of the trees.
How much of your time does the wood take?
For the first year I probably spent two hours a day on it, mostly chainsawing and log splitting fallen trees and branches. In fact we had so many logs I had to build a new log-store for them! Also I transplanted lots of small box plants to the inside of the fence so they will eventually hide it. Nowadays it's quite easy to maintain and only requires a few hours per week.
As a project you have made headway but I would imagine there is still much to do - have you set yourself a timescale of when the wood is truly as you would like it?
As a routine just keeping down the nettles, balsam and brambles and clearing fallen branches these days. Going forward will be planting spring flower bulbs and ferns. Also have recovered many flints from the wood which I will be using to line an entrance pathway.
The upkeep and maintenance of trees is probably quite a task at times?
I had a couple of arborists take down a few dead trees which were in danger of falling. Aside from that, just routine clearing and logging as above.
What are you looking forward to doing and seeing in the wood this autumn?
The main projects for the autumn will be planting of a new beech
hedge, bluebells, tulips and wild flower seeds near the
Air Bee 'n' Bee.
 Laying out pathways within the wood
and old rusty metal fencing.
The local ‘scrappy’ was a regular visitor in the early days! The next job was to chip up all the small branches which had
fallen over the years and use

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