Please read below some suggestions and simple advice which can be helpful when thinking about tree planting into the landscape, especially when creating new habitats such as a woodland. First, the definition of a woodland: (source: wikipedia)
“Ecologically, a woodland is a low-density forest forming open habitats with plenty of sunlight and limited shade. Woodlands may support an understory of shrubs andherbaceous plants including grasses. Woodland may form a transition to shrubland under drier conditions or during early stages of primary or secondary succession. Higher densities and areas of trees, with largely closed canopy, provide extensive and nearly continuous shade are referred to as forest.
Woodland is used in British woodland management to mean any smaller area covered in trees, however dense. (Forest is usually used in the British Isles only for more extensive wooded areas, again, regardless of density – and also including Royal forests, which may not be wooded at all). The term Ancient Woodland is used in British nature conservation to refer to any wooded land that has existed for a very long period (equivalent to the American term old growth forest).”
What different types of woodlands are they?
You have broadleaved woodlands and coniferous woodlands. Broadleaved woodlands could be categorised as Beech woods, Oak woods and Alder woods.
Beeches are usually found on thin soils which are well drained. If you plant Beeches to close together, there will be little light for other plants and trees, few will survive. It is important to think of the light and shade when planting Beech trees. The foliage which go with Beech trees would be Holly and Yew – they can access and receive light when the Beech trees shed their leaves in the winter. Also, The Bird’s Nest Orchids can live alongside Beech woods as they feed on rotted leaves and need only little light to grow.
In an Oak wood you find many kinds of trees; Ash, Field Maple and Hazel. An Oak wood surprisingly do not have thick canopy, letting light in and allowing other species to thrive. This makes it a rich habitat for wildlife. If you are planting many Oak trees and creating an Oak woodland, the species that go well would be: Hawthorn, Ash, Mistletoe, Field Maple, Hazel, Bramble, and Yellow Archangels (wildflower).
An Alder Wood
If you are planting on a wet soil which is frequently waterlogged, then the species that would be of benefit are Alder and Goat Willow. They grow well on wet ground. Woodlands of Alder and Willow are of good benefit to wildlife and insects, as you have water and shelter provided by the trees. Yellow flag is a wildflower usually seen in this type of habitat.
Most conifer woods in Britain have been planted for timber and for commercial reasons. Such woods are rather dark, which makes it for difficult conditions, but some benefit – the pine martin for example has made a comeback in some coniferous plantations. However, there are in Scotland and Northern Europe natural Scots Pine Woods. They have an open canopy and the Scots Pines do not grow so close together as in plantations. This makes it easier for plants to grow there. If you are planting in the northern areas and are planting Scots Pine woodland, other recommended trees to plant are: Hairy Birch, Rowan, Juniper, Heather, and Bilberry. Wildflowers we would recommend planting would be: Heather, Twin flower, and Cow-wheat.
Here are some wildflowers common in woodlands when there is plenty of light: Greater Butterfly Orchid, Common Ragwort, Lesser Knapweed, Tufted Vetch, Silverweed and Hedge Woundwort. Please let us know if you are interested in planting out wildflowers in your woodland area, we would be happy to help and send you the appropriate flowers.
Andreas Kornevall – Director of Operations
If you are in need of support and ideas when planting out your new woodland habitat, please get in touch.