If you’ve visited Stolford you will know we have a lot of variation when it comes to topography, with a couple of hundred acres of land you can get a tractor on, and about fifty that you wouldn’t. In an earlier blog we talked about our application for organic status, and the countryside stewardship scheme, both of which await final confirmation. The latter will help us put some of the steeper or inaccessible land to better use environmentally, but we also decided to use some of the slopes for a new venture.
One outcome is that we have planted our first one thousand Christmas trees, using just over an acre of ground behind the barns at Lower Stolford. We have gone for Nordmann Fir, one of the most important species grown for Christmas trees, with its attractive foliage, and needles that are not sharp and don’t drop when the tree dries out. Nordmann fir is widely grown in Europe in reforestation projects as a way to mitigate expected forest decline caused by climate change. They can grow to a height of more than fifty metres, the wood is soft and white, and once mature is used for general construction and paper making. Maybe we will leave a few of them to mature after we harvest the bulk of them for Christmas trees in about five years’ time when they are expected to be between one and two metres tall. There’s nothing like an Exmoor wind howling through conifers on a rainy night to make you appreciate your cottage!
The plan is to plant a thousand every year from now on. Besides the planting, we had to install a six foot high deer proof fence (there are a lot of them this year again) around the entire plot, all of which was done during the ceaseless rain of the recent winter. Needless to say, the minute we had them planted it didn’t rain for four weeks, and we had to water them every day. Also, as a footnote we had to stock fence a sheep motorway right down the middle of the plot, so as we can move the sheep from one side of the farm to the other without taking them through the main garden.