Volunteers help local wood

HUNDREDS of trees on the edge of Felixstowe are blossoming, thanks to a small dedicated army of volunteers.Their efforts to look after the resort's new Abbey Grove woodland are already proving fruitful with the vast majority of specimens surviving their early years and now beginning to thrive.

HUNDREDS of trees on the edge of Felixstowe are blossoming, thanks to a small dedicated army of volunteers.

Their efforts to look after the resort's new Abbey Grove woodland are already proving fruitful with the vast majority of specimens surviving their early years and now beginning to thrive.

With spring just around the corner, volunteer wardens Bob Stoner and Judith Hedges, and conservation group The Felixstowe Society, called a work party together to get the woodland ready for the growing season.

Armed with scythes, secateurs and loppers, and clad in strong footwear and gloves, the volunteers cleared brambles away from young trees to give the saplings the space for a growth spurt over the next few months.

They also removed, cleaned out, and replaced some, plastic tree protectors - used to protect the young trees from rabbits - which can get clogged with ants' nests and grasses, so the trees can breath and are not strangled.

Substantial areas of bramble away from the trees have been left for nesting sites for birds and small mammals. Harvest mice nests have already been found at the site in Candlet Road.

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Organisers said although it was a cold time of the year to be embarking on such work, it was necessary to complete it before nesting begins.

Abbey Grove - the first woodland planted on the Felixstowe peninsula for 200 years - is now five years old and many of its trees are now six feet or more tall.

It was planted on the 9.4 acre site by the Woodland Trust after a £34,000 fundraising drive in the town. Trees are native broadleaf varieties with nearly half oak, the rest ash, sweet chestnut, field maple, wild cherry and others, with some hedgerow and hazel coppice.

There is also a wild flower meadow, which will take some years to rid of perennial weeds and to allow the flowers to flourish and create habitat for butterflies and insects, and a regeneration area where it is hoped the original Grove will spread naturally and 100 of its oak seedlings have been planted.

Wide rides have been cut through Abbey Grove - named because it stands close to the site of the 11th century Walton Abbey - while narrow hidden pathways have been created among the trees.

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