Caring for the Bastard

Bastard Balm Meilittis Melissophylum is an unfortunatley named but very attractive plant of woodland edges which has declined with the cessation of coppicing. Plantlife Cymru has received money from the Welsh government for work on this and Spreading bellflower, both of which were formerly common plants in Wales.

Coppicewood College was asked by Plantlife to carry out some of the conservation work at Pengelli Forest near Newport in Pembrokeshire. We cut back shading growth from coppiced trees on the hedgebank to create light and encourage germination of buried seed. Both coppicing and hedgebank management are necessary to allow woodland plants to flourish. The familier woodland flowers such as Primrose, Bluebell and Wood Anenome need the light generated by coppicing to flower well and set seed. Subsequently, many welsh woodlands have become dark places since the end of regular coppicing in the 1920's. Coppicewood College hopes to promote the revival of Coppicing in Wales and is very happy to be involved in woodland initiatives such as the revival of Bastard Balm.

Nick Barnes (Chief Instructor at Coppicewood College)

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