12 March 2012 By Billy Hawkins
Each year at Chelsea we see gardens which celebrate the resurrection of traditional rural skills, be it dry stone walling, hedge laying or ancient timber crafts.
The combination of these skills with modern takes on planting, in my view, result in a dynamic and interestingly designed garden. I enjoy the old and traditional seeping into the new and experimental and am keen on following countryside and rural skills within the horticultural world. If we don’t incorporate such worthwhile skills into garden design, they will die out and they will be consigned to history books. Ancient crafts have shaped communities and given landscapes a distinctiveness which living and working on the South Downs at Alitex we are lucky to see.
At our Open Day to mark the advent of Spring on March 24th 10am-3pm we will be joined by a host of speakers and exhibitors who are well known by many, but perhaps you have not heard of Wild Wood Charcoal & Coppice Products, who will be on hand to answer all types of questions related to countryside skills. Alan and Jo Waters from Wild Wood, West Sussex offer services in coppice restoration, hedge laying and sculpture and is an experienced charcoal maker providing courses in both that and coppicing. We anticipate Alan will be able to provide a demonstration of woodland craft, although probably not charcoal making which would certainly excite the health and safety people!
In traditional charcoal making part of the wood is burned to dry out and the remainder is carbonised. It is an ancient craft where a high quality and high value product is made from low value and low quality timber. Attention must be given to sourcing the raw material, siting of the kiln, laying the base and filling the kiln, lighting the kiln, controlling the burn, grading, bagging and marketing of the end product. It is a skill which takes place along the South Downs, as you hike into a clearing and see the enormous kilns smoking away.
Come along to our Open Day and find out more. Please call us on 01730 826900 to book your place.