(Ted Cook, Heritage Specialist – Jointly sponsored by CELT and The Irish SEEDSAVERS Assoc.)
Participants gathered at Seed saver’s “Supernatural Tearoom” from hour Field Study was outlined, namely to110.ooam and the scheduled 6 evaluate and quantify the abundant functions and Benefits of Ireland’s largest naturalised man-made Monument. That indeed the genetic components of Irelands’ lost aboriginal Forest with their inherent “Ancient Forest Pattern of Life“, continue to “lie in waiting”, along hundreds of thousands of miles of our Field Boundary Resource.
References to Brehon Law; Irish Tree Alphabet; C.J.Jung; Rudolf Steiner’s “Biodynamic Spiritual Science”; Oliver Rackham and George Petterken were made and expanded upon along our walk.
The Tutor introduced the “Lunar Apogee” phenonomen – the Moon’s once-monthly (40000 km) swing towards Earth (Perigee) and it’s subsequent once-monthly “Apogee”, where our Moon hurtles to the extremity of Earths’ gravitational pull – only to remember it’s ordained mission and to stick with “The Flower garden of Cosmos” (Dante).
“Apogee” enhances the “humour” of our Plant Kingdom, a century ago, Steiner had observed increased susceptibility to unsolicited fungal Pathogens (disease carriers) during the “Perigee” Moon.
Sunday, October 14th this year co-incideed with “Apogee” who’s humour was tangible within our Group. One Solar Year to the day earlier – Saturday October 14th 2006, our Hedgerow Event corresponded with the Waning Half Moon on it’s Descending Arc” – with it’s attendant humour of “Mellow Fruitfulness” and “Hectic Red” Autumnal tones. One year later, the fruits have not yet set on the Ivy, in many instances. In 2006,we observed intense competition between Hoverflies; Wasps; Bumbles and Honeybees for the few remaining ivy’s pollen-rich flowers. Participants are invited to observe the “Ascending Moon” – each once during the 28 day Lunar Cycle. “Crown Reductions” of our Trees – or pruning generally, is best undertaken during the period when the moon sails low on our Horizon.
Section 4. Of our 1946 Forestry Act creates a Criminal Offence for cutting down any tree in the State, over 10 years of age without a Felling Licence – for our purposes, the same section provides for conviction and Penalties where any cutting; pruning; lopping or grubbing are undertaken in a fashion not in keeping with “Sound Forestry Practice”.
Our Legislators may not know of Steiner’s observations concerning the “Descending Moon” – relevant in view of rapidly mutating fungi; Viruses and Bacterial Pathogens and presenting with new-found virulence.
One Participant contributed “Fire Blight” – and its current outbreak in Dublin!
Provisions of our 1667 Cattle Act were discussed – and thus the “Historic Ecology” of our Wildlife Corridoors – hosting the selfsame species of Lesser Horseshoe Bat and Silver-washed Fritillary Butterflies as are yet found in long established Native Wooded Surviving Sheds, such as Cascade Wood, Ballyvourney, Co. Cork – our youngest S.A.C. (Special Area of Conservation – 1997 Habitats Directive – E.U.) comprising 26 Hectares – not yet one month old – but hosting species that survived Ireland’s recent Ice Age c. 9000 years ago (B.P). Our Kerry Slug (Geomalacus) adopted the hedge-motorways to commute to other chemically-stable “Booleys” or Collective Upland Grazing of cattle from Neolithic times, were criminalised under the 1667 “Cattle Act”. The “Long Acre”, still seen in Beara; The Burren and Breffney is all that remains of a semi-Nomadic/ Travelling Civilization – outlawed under the subsequent “Enclosure Acts”. Coupled with the violent land-clearances under Elizabeth Plantagenet (Queen of England), thorn hedges marching over the hill hinted at a new and inexplicable entity on an ancient landscape – indigenous peoples uprooted them as fast as the Adventurers could plant. Known as “Levellers”, large numbers took to the Oakwoods, Eileen McCracken (Woodlands of Ireland 1600) in 1959, concluded that c. one eighth of our Post-Glacial Woods remained in Ireland, at the close of Elizabeth’s reign (Participants might read “The Twilight of the Lords”, Richard Burleith; Publ. Barnes and Noble).
Isn’t it ironic that these selfsame roadside Hedges were to so unnerve the “Black n Tans”, 300 years later – read “Where Mountainy Men Have Sown” – O’Sullivan.
Managing Ivy, it is recommended that one quarter of the individual stems, at shoulder height be severed – where our only evergreen climbing shrub has caused “overwhelming” of the Tree Crown or Canopy. Time “ivy control” with care – from late Summer it presents a source of Pollen, unequalled in Irish Nature – and by mid-October the fruits have set – and by mid-Winter, tens of millions of Arctic Fieldfare and Redwing, (side-by-side with our Native Thrushes; Starlings; Woodpigeons and Collared Doves etc.) arrive for a veritable “Deli” of Nature’s single most protein-rich food.
Pulling the severed trusses can injure species such as Summer Bat roosts and nesting Wood mice – further up the Tree’s emerald gowns.
Participants were reminded of the value of Ivy to Ireland’s Neolithic Farmers – droving their Kerries (who’s Pedigree derives from the Ancient “Bos Primigenius” – the Chinese Ox.) The same urge to browse the ivy-draped ditch remains in our modern Simenthol and Limosene herds. “Gath” (Ogham- Ivy) gives us the letter “G” in Europe’s oldest settled Alphabet. The Chemical Active” in Ivy remains an important organic cure for severe Skin ailments, including the Scabies Mite. (Zimbabwe, India).
The Tutor quaries the description of “Ivy” by Moorepark (Dept Agriculture) as “invasive weed”. Rackham expressed no reservations on discovering Ivy ”stems thicker than a fat man” in a Derry (wooded island on bog) in Co. Offaly, growing up an Old Age Pensioner Oak.
Zero and/ or low input maintenance of Seedsaver’s Field Hedges were applauded – our maxim for the day being “Don’t just do something – Sit there”.
One sound Principle might be to evaluate in advance, whether intervention into any “Wild Space” – specifically our Hedgerows -positively enhances and creates space for Nature to function – or otherwise.
Brian Buru Oak
Our Oak (Dair – Irish) represents Ireland’s Climax Plant – the “Tara of the Forest” (Brehon Land Code) – the “Doire Phoball” or Tree of Assembly – the Host to 264 invertebrate insect species – the Parnell of Ireland’s Political History – the “Fair Witness” to Ireland’s fortunes as they ebb and flow, and Nature’s Highest Achievement since Erin’s youth.
Bio-dynamically, our Trees present the interface between our Animal and Plant Kingdoms. Pillars of Nature – commencing with our earliest post-glacial arrival – Juniper.
Long before the emergence of “mycorhizzal fungal soils”, our Pilgrim “Juniperis communis” – our “Crann Fir” of the Brehon Law’s seventh-listed “Lower Division of the Wood” in the third Classification – held it’s ground across the “terraces of shattered rock”. And Erin’s greening thickened – John Baptiste of Oak.
“Town-Criers”, since Mediaeval times, pronounced the “Cherries Ripe”, each late July – we noted the abundant sloes on Ireland’s other Wild Cherry – “Blackthorn”.
Buckthorn (Purging) Shrubs were noted – somewhat forlorn without it’s omnipotent accompanying Yew tree – associated with Limestone/ pavements. It’s Scientific name “Rhamnus cathartica” reminds us of it’s “pile-driving capacity. The Tutor offers to introduce Yew (the 4th Lord of the Wood – first Classification) should we repeat our Hedge Day during October 2008, to Seedsaver’s embryonic Wildwood.
After lunch we planted a Hazel tree – technically a shrub, being multi-stemmed and keeping it’s crown within the “Under-canopy” storey of the Forest.
Hazels growing in Ballyclough’s former remnant woods, near Askeaton, reached 16 meters.
“Hospitaller of the Forest”, Hazel, Crann Coll, second only to Oak in the List of Forest nobles (Brehon Codes of Neighbourhood) – generous Food Tree and Prince of Wood Pasture (memorise Austin
Clarke’s “Lost Heifer”) with nuts one and a half times richer in Vegetable Proteins than Hen’s Eggs and a powerful source of “Argenine” to quieten our Blood Pressures – whose Winter catkins support scores of insect species and target-bush of our Red Squirrels.
We noted the Sandstone soils of the planting site – our potted Hazel originated in the Sandstone uplands of West Cork – and with mycorrhizal action; Providence and the specimen’s innate urge to reach full personality – may our “Diviner of Hidden Wisdom” (as Hazel was described by our Priestly Druidic Caste) survive to witness Man’s overdue transmogrification from Parasitism to Symbiosis – a tall order, but when appropriately coppiced and managed, our Hazel, at 600 years of age, is still in the Foothills of Middle age.
Participants interested in advancing our hedge theme, are advised to look-out on the Seedsavers and CELT websites (www.celtnet.org), with a view to establishing a new Hedgerow within Seedsavers newly acquired acreage – with Seedsavers permission and by way of response to requests from Participants.
A copy of “Fall Gently Friend” poem, penned by Stuart McMurdo, Co. Down, will be circulated to participants.
(Supported by Heritage Council – I.N.T.O. Heritage Specialist)
October 18th 2007