Wood You Believe It..



He’s started. Hammering. I heard him whilst I was out watering in the greenhouse a couple of days ago. So far he has spared the bathroom soil pipe and hence our early morning call (remember this?) but he is certainly making his presence felt in the woods. Drumming out his claim on his territory no doubt. Or perhaps Mrs W has specified urgent pre-Spring structural modifications to the nest. An excess rainwater drainage hole would be top of my list if I was her.


Woodrow Woodpecker is not the only one with wood front of mind.

Lawn Edging 008 Wm[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=

I need to get the ground prepared for Operation Hedge


If we cast our minds way, way back to the far reaches of oh…. last year, you’ll recall that copious consumption of alcohol and/or nocturnal perambulations of the lawn are not currently to be recommended chez rusty duck. Not since the day someone wilfully demolished the hedge. An immediate replacement would have been the sensible way forward but ‘things’ have been getting in the way: the row of rather scrubby looking things at the forward edge of the lawn to be precise. Brutally hacked but mercifully re-sprouting rhododendrons that now need to be shifted.


And where exactly are they going to go?


Tree Felling 022 Wm[1]



Although it looks a bit different now because Mike, and a couple of lads who came in to help us, have cleared it.


Tree Felling 025 Wm[1]


My theory is that the rhodos, assuming they continue to grow having been plucked from the lawn, dragged unceremoniously up the hill and surrendered to new holes in the ground, will eventually help screen the back of the outhouses and give us some seasonal colour where only a tangle of brambles existed before. It’s a big ask, given how large the rootballs must be. But as soon as we get a decent break in the weather, move them is what we will attempt to do.


Tree Felling 021 Wm[1]


An alternative angle on the same area

The trees here were heavily congested and had grown into an awkward shape, spreading to one side in an attempt to secure every last scrap of available light. The density of the canopy also meant I’d have little chance of getting anything underneath it to thrive.


Tree Felling 024 Wm[1]


A whole new part of the garden now enjoying the benefit of light.


This latest bit of cutting back marks a halt to tree surgery for the time being. There are definite signs that the birds are out prospecting for nests and I’d rather leave them to it. As far as I know we didn’t disturb a single nest in the course of the work last Spring and Summer, but the thought was always at the back of my mind. Now that the most urgent stuff is done we can wait until Autumn before tackling any more.

As it is we’re in danger of disappearing under a heap of felled wood. Mike needs to start wielding the axe. Or does he?


Tree Felling 026 Wm[1]


Another New Toy has found its way into the tool shed. This one though is worth its weight in gold. The task of splitting wood has become as effortless as peeling back a banana and, it would appear, rather addictive.. what you see in the background comprises only a fraction of the new firewood that has already been stacked there.


DANGER! Keep Clear of Moving Parts!


At the last count, all fingers were still present and correct. Touch wood.


Wood You Believe It

pin it?

2018-01-30T10:38:17+00:00January 12th, 2016|Tags: , |


  1. derrickjknight January 12, 2016 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    Jackie will like this post. She frightens me sometimes with her hacking, but it always grows back

    • Jessica January 13, 2016 at 3:20 pm - Reply

      Sometimes it’s the only way, especially when shrubs have got out of control.

  2. FlowerAlley January 12, 2016 at 5:04 pm - Reply

    I sense a little guilt in Woodrow’s peeking eye. He knows he is disturbing the peace. I won’t show my husband your new toy. He will be jealous.

    • Jessica January 13, 2016 at 3:22 pm - Reply

      Given how much wood is now lying around here, I think it’s going to be one of the most useful bits of kit we own.

  3. Mark and Gaz January 12, 2016 at 5:05 pm - Reply

    The new home of the rhodos looks like a perfect spot for them. Hopefully they won’t mind the temporary inconvenience of being moved 🙂

    • Jessica January 13, 2016 at 3:24 pm - Reply

      I shall intersperse them with plants that flower at different times of the year, the old rhodo border was just a lump of green all summer. It’ll be nice to break them up a bit.

  4. CT January 12, 2016 at 5:06 pm - Reply

    Drilling of the Woodpecker variety is Occurring here too…..

    • Jessica January 13, 2016 at 3:26 pm - Reply

      Yep, he’s been going for it big time today. When we first moved in I thought someone was using power tools in our wood!

  5. Amy at love made my home January 12, 2016 at 5:15 pm - Reply

    Mike needs something else. The norweigan book on log cutting and stacking! Trust me! I hope that the new accommodations will be to Mrs W’s liking and that you won’t find Mr W making endless holes! xx

    • Jessica January 13, 2016 at 3:28 pm - Reply

      I keep coming across log stacks on pinterest that look very interesting. I foresee all sorts of constructions appearing in the woods.

  6. justjilluk January 12, 2016 at 5:21 pm - Reply

    Enjoyed your post as always. Envying your log pile. We cleared 2 Poplars and are still waiting for them to be dry enough to use on the stove. Exciting to create new views.

    • Jessica January 13, 2016 at 3:31 pm - Reply

      It’s the first year we’ve been able to use the stove safely (after the new chimney) and we do seem to be getting through some wood. The undercover log store is going to need replenishing with the new stuff so its got time to dry out and season before next winter.

  7. pagedogs January 12, 2016 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    Log splitters are addictive and oddly satisfying to watch. Love the woodpecker shot and good luck with the rhododendrons.

    • Jessica January 13, 2016 at 3:33 pm - Reply

      They certainly make light work of log splitting. I can’t imagine how we’d keep up with demand without it.

  8. Sue Garrett January 12, 2016 at 5:38 pm - Reply

    Love how Woodrow is peeking from behind the tree.
    You’ll,be able to,sell,firewood at this rate!

    • Jessica January 13, 2016 at 3:41 pm - Reply

      We’ve already given a lot away. The whole of the large spruce tree went to a neighbour. I’m just very conscious that in future years there won’t be so many trees coming down.

  9. Pauline January 12, 2016 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    Woodpeckers drumming here too on our dead oak. Hope your rhodos enjoy their new home, they seem to move quite well fortunately.

    • Jessica January 13, 2016 at 3:44 pm - Reply

      That’s good to hear. They’re not my favourite plant, but they will be useful for screening the outhouses so I’d like to see them thrive.

  10. homeslip January 12, 2016 at 6:08 pm - Reply

    And here. The hole in the tree is now so big Woody goes inside, turns round and comes back out again. It makes me laugh! If the Rhodos don’t take how about planting R. Luteum, a deciduous azalea with scented yellow flowers in May. Looks gorgeous with bluebells underfoot. And has good autumn colour. Good to hear about the helpful lads, we need to preserve ourselves for the planning!

    • Jessica January 13, 2016 at 3:48 pm - Reply

      Quite right Sarah. The planning and the purchasing..
      I have an R. luteum that’s about three years old and thriving in the woodland just the other side of the path from the newly cleared area. It’s a great shrub. Thanks for the idea of underplanting it with bluebells, I will do that.

  11. M. L. Kappa January 12, 2016 at 6:14 pm - Reply

    Love the new toy! I want one! Your hacking away reminds me of my mother, known in the family as ROBOCOP. But it does all grow back, faster than expected, so it needs to be done.

    • Jessica January 13, 2016 at 3:52 pm - Reply

      I can’t resist a good hacking, all that lovely new compact growth in place of something old and leggy. I too can be quite dangerous when left alone with a pair of loppers. Thankfully there is plenty of opportunity here.

  12. Christina January 12, 2016 at 6:21 pm - Reply

    Think yourself lucky that the woodpecker is only interested in trees; we had one (maybe more) who 1. hacked into the shutters causing several hundred Euros of damage not to mention terrifying me as I thought someone was breaking into the house and 2. deciding that the side of the house would make a good winter hideaway and making a quite large hole in the side wall. Our friend’s house has also been attacked in this way. I used to rather like woodpeckers – not any more! Good luck with the rhodos.

    • Jessica January 13, 2016 at 3:56 pm - Reply

      The sound can be quite frightening when you hear it for the first time. Who would have thought a relatively small bird could make quite so much noise.

      • Christina January 15, 2016 at 11:06 am - Reply

        ….and cause so much damage!

        • Jessica January 16, 2016 at 5:48 pm - Reply


  13. Julie January 12, 2016 at 6:37 pm - Reply

    Holidays, lifestyle and now definitely the wood splitter too! That’s been on my husbands wish list for the last couple of winters, age is creeping up and bashing logs with an axe is hard work.

    • Jessica January 13, 2016 at 4:05 pm - Reply

      It’s not as expensive as I thought it might be. The only real downside is the weight of it. It does have wheels but getting it up and down the slope isn’t really on. The tree wood gets chopped into manageable sections with the chainsaw and then brought to the splitter.

  14. Backlane Notebook January 12, 2016 at 6:46 pm - Reply

    I love the way he’s peeping out behind the tree hoping he can stay and log cutting gizmo envy here (not that we have a ready supply of tree trunks).

    • Jessica January 13, 2016 at 4:09 pm - Reply

      Apparently when you disturb a woodpecker that’s what they do.. scoot round the back of the tree where they can’t be seen. The peeping back round to see if I’m still there is so cute 🙂

  15. bumbleandme January 12, 2016 at 7:31 pm - Reply

    It’s so exciting when you manage to clear a bit of land isn’t it? All the possibilities…… Rhodi’s will look lovely there, fingers crossed they survive the undignified move (I’m sure they will!). Also loving Mikes new toy – he’s more than welcome to come and spend a weekend in Wales helping my Rob with splitting logs. We’ve still not managed to get a ahead of that task, although we have plenty of trunks and branches seasoning, they’re just not logged yet. Oh well, another job to add to the endless list…. It’s great isn’t it – who’d have any other life? Not me! X

    • Jessica January 13, 2016 at 4:16 pm - Reply

      It does seem like an endless list doesn’t it. We’re using our previous supply of seasoned wood this year so this next lot will replace that for the years to come. And there are still many many trunks lying around that haven’t been touched yet. I’m not sure we’d manage to keep up either without the splitter.

  16. Cathy January 12, 2016 at 8:05 pm - Reply

    Activity all round – what fun!!

    • Jessica January 13, 2016 at 4:18 pm - Reply

      Like you Cathy, I’m not very good at sitting still.

  17. Virginia January 12, 2016 at 8:34 pm - Reply

    What a wonderful photo Jessica! And the bank clearing by the three musketeers is impressive – those lads are worth encouraging! I have had success transplanting hydrangeas but I’m not sure about rhodos – I don’t know why, but the hydrangeas coped with the upheaval and flowered the second year – I think rhodos are more fussy, so best of luck.

    • Jessica January 13, 2016 at 4:23 pm - Reply

      Two success stories with hydrangeas here too, but I’ve never tried rhododendrons before. We shall see. They have to go from where they are but it’s worth trying to save them if we can. I have my eye on two further hydrangeas to go into the same area. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to them. The first ones changed colour (pink to purple/blue) once they found themselves in a different part of the garden.

  18. Sheila January 12, 2016 at 10:31 pm - Reply

    Lots of hard work! It will be worth it. I’m afraid I’m one of those people who head into the garden with secateurs for a tidy up, and by the time I’m done, the chain saw has been brought into play! Fortunately, it all grows back and I’m sure the rhodos will love their new home.

    • Jessica January 13, 2016 at 4:27 pm - Reply

      Shrubs are a lot tougher than people think. I used to be terrified of cutting them back too far.. now I just launch in. As you say, it usually works!

  19. Linda aka Crafty Gardener January 12, 2016 at 11:12 pm - Reply

    Fantastic photo of Woodrow, we have woodies been pecking on the deck railings when there is no suet in the feeder, I’m sure they are letting me know the baskets are empty.

    • Jessica January 13, 2016 at 4:31 pm - Reply

      There is a robin round here who stands in the seed tray and pecks around forlornly when it is empty, all the while looking back towards the window to see if we got the hint. How can you refuse? You certainly couldn’t refuse a woodie.. deck rails are expensive to replace and he has the equipment to destroy them fast!

  20. Linda P. January 12, 2016 at 11:24 pm - Reply

    Lucky you to have that New Toy for splitting wood. A much needed bit of equipment as you clear land and fell trees!

    • Jessica January 13, 2016 at 4:34 pm - Reply

      We would never have managed without it Linda, there is just too much wood. And the bones are not as young as they were!

  21. Jacqueline January 13, 2016 at 12:44 am - Reply

    That is a BRILLIANT photograph of the woodpecker Jessica …. you are such a good photographer. Such a lot of work that you’ve got done …. I bet you are itching to get out there !
    ……. nice tool Mike !!!!!!!!!!!!! XXXX

    • Jessica January 13, 2016 at 4:39 pm - Reply

      I took the photo a couple of years back when I had the camera set up on the tripod in the kitchen, for the birdwatch if I remember correctly. I spotted him behind the bird table pole so just adjusted the camera a bit and snapped him as he started to peep round it.
      I will pass on the compliment 😉

  22. Kris P January 13, 2016 at 1:11 am - Reply

    One project does seem to lead to another, doesn’t it? At least Woodrow is keeping a bit of distance from your house this year – I can’t imagine waking up to that racket! Woodpeckers are something I’m grateful to say we don’t have.

    • Jessica January 13, 2016 at 4:42 pm - Reply

      They are quite sweet really, I’d miss him if he wasn’t here. The first two years they had chicks and brought them back to the bird table. They missed out last year, hope they’ll try again.

  23. Christina January 13, 2016 at 3:38 am - Reply

    Hi Jessica, the enthusiasm with which you and Mike tackle all these big tasks is really impressive to me! Clearing this slope must have been a hack of a job and transplanting the rhodies sounds equally humongous.
    The wood splitting tool I have never seen before, but it seems to be awesome. It certainly makes the job easier.
    Love your opening photo of the Woodpecker!
    Did you have any flooding? I thought about you, when the massive rainfall in Britain was all over the news!
    Warm regards,

    • Jessica January 13, 2016 at 4:48 pm - Reply

      The ground here is totally sodden now, but thankfully we escaped flooding. I can’t even contemplate gardening at the moment. We were out taking some photos this morning but it’s virtually impossible to stand on the soil it’s so wet. I need it to dry out a bit before we winch out the rhododendrons, not too much though because hopefully they should come out fairly easily at the moment.

  24. Beth @ PlantPostings January 13, 2016 at 4:12 am - Reply

    Cute little Woodrow. I know they’re loud, but woodpeckers can be so entertaining. You’ve been so busy with your property and more big projects to come. Good luck!

    • Jessica January 13, 2016 at 4:51 pm - Reply

      Thanks Beth. Yes, it’s going to be another busy year. We’ll need the luck!

  25. Denise January 13, 2016 at 8:08 am - Reply

    There was a woodpecker in the park last week. The birds are definitely early this year. I fear for the worms…

    • Jessica January 13, 2016 at 5:09 pm - Reply

      I wish they’d eat more slugs. Damn molluscs are decimating my hellebores. There have been no frosts to kill them off.

  26. Sam January 13, 2016 at 8:15 am - Reply

    That’s a cracking photo of your woodpecker. I’m not showing David this post. He’d love a wood splitter but we don’t need any more power tools and we don’t have enough wood to justify one! I once spent a while at a nature reserve in Dorset where they were ‘rhodo-bashing’ – trying to eradicate rhododendrons so that native species would return. It was proving very difficult and they had to drill into stumps to try to kill them. I reckon yours might survive a move.

    • Jessica January 13, 2016 at 5:14 pm - Reply

      Hope so Sam! The wild rhododendron is very invasive, almost impossible to get rid of and I believe it’s even an offence to plant it now. I suspect mine are more modern hybrids and probably not quite as indestructible. But at the end of the day they are rhodos. It would be good if they pull through.

  27. sustainablemum January 13, 2016 at 8:54 am - Reply

    I love the sound of woodpeckers. They are amazing how fast they move their heads. You captured a great photo of it. I had better not show that wood splitter to dh he will want one too………….

    • Jessica January 13, 2016 at 5:27 pm - Reply

      I love the drumming and the chirps. We can always tell when Woodrow is about to descend on the nut feeder… he starts chirping (loudly) from the nearest tree.

  28. Anna January 13, 2016 at 8:54 am - Reply

    Oh a most fine portrait of a handsome and winning chap Jessica. What huge eyes! Our woodpecker sadly disappeared a couple of years ago. I miss the tap-tap-tapping but maybe the tree that he used to perch on is happy about his absence.

    • Jessica January 13, 2016 at 5:32 pm - Reply

      The territory drumming (the loud stuff) tends to be on a hollow dead tree.. for the resonance! But I too feel sorry for the trees they choose to feed from. I watch them hopping up the trunk and branches, wheedling out insects from the bark. Sometimes that too can be heard for quite some distance.

  29. Joanne January 13, 2016 at 10:51 am - Reply

    How lovely to see a woodpecker. We have some close by but not to see or hear just when walking the hound x

    • Jessica January 13, 2016 at 5:34 pm - Reply

      I’d never seen one at all until we moved here. It was quite a shock when one day this bird with quite different markings turned up on the bird table. I’d always assumed woodpeckers were much bigger than they are.

  30. Brian Skeys January 13, 2016 at 3:57 pm - Reply

    When you live out in the wilds and have a wood burner it is very reassuring to have a large woodpile.

    • Jessica January 13, 2016 at 5:37 pm - Reply

      It’s getting colder apparently. I’m glad we’ve got the wood burner functional this year, but they do get through a lot of wood!

  31. Jennifer January 13, 2016 at 4:39 pm - Reply

    Wow, that’s a nifty new tool. Be careful. I hope the woodpecker isn’t too much of a nuisance. We had a sapsucker in the apple tree right outside our bedroom a couple of years ago. It was like Chinese water torture every morning.

    • Jessica January 13, 2016 at 5:41 pm - Reply

      A sapsucker doesn’t sound very tree friendly… or people friendly!

  32. Vera January 13, 2016 at 5:20 pm - Reply

    Whenever I read your blog I come away from it feeling that I really should not feel overwhelmed by our garden out front! Looking forward to seeing how your garden grows this year!

    • Jessica January 13, 2016 at 5:42 pm - Reply

      Yours too Vera! I’m looking forward to seeing what you do with it.

  33. Alain January 13, 2016 at 6:33 pm - Reply

    Your picture of the woodpecker has me worried. We are away from home and if our own woodpecker decides to attack the house gable as he did 2 years ago, no one is going to be there to chase him away. We will just hope for the best!

    • Jessica January 14, 2016 at 4:56 pm - Reply

      Sharing your space with wildlife is definitely a mixed blessing.

  34. Sarah January 13, 2016 at 7:24 pm - Reply

    The men are busy in your neck of the woods! Sarah x

    • Jessica January 14, 2016 at 4:58 pm - Reply

      Spring has come early 🙂

  35. Island Threads January 13, 2016 at 8:13 pm - Reply

    all looking good and full of promise Jessica, hope you get suitable weather to get the roddo job done before they start growing, new garden toys that make the work lighter are such a joy, I do feel for you with woody, lucky for me the cuckoo doesn’t winter here and doesn’t stay around long once the deed is done! Frances

    • Jessica January 14, 2016 at 5:07 pm - Reply

      It’s getting colder now (with frost) so I might be waiting a bit longer. But it will be nice to get that area sorted out (and the lawn edging) before Spring. Two massive steps forward for the garden. I’ve never heard a cuckoo down here.

  36. annie_h January 13, 2016 at 8:42 pm - Reply

    I love that photo of your woodpecker, made me laugh, though it sounds like he’s a bit troublesome! Looks like you’ll be busy, lets hope the weather gets better soon.

    • Jessica January 14, 2016 at 5:25 pm - Reply

      We need a bit of better weather don’t we.. colder now but at least that means more sunshine. I hope!

  37. Sue C. January 13, 2016 at 9:42 pm - Reply

    Your slopes look a real challenge – and so many of them too! Good luck with the rhodo moving – i look forward to seeing photo’s of them in situ. Brilliant woodpecker photo.

    • Jessica January 14, 2016 at 5:27 pm - Reply

      Yes, plenty of slopes. There is very little flat land to garden on, so I’ve had to get used to it!

  38. snowbird January 13, 2016 at 10:23 pm - Reply

    Woodrow is quite a character, I love that pic, he’s more than welcome to come ahammering around here. I hope all the shrubs survive the transplanting, they are so hardy, no doubt they’ll be twenty foot high again before you know it!xxx

    • Jessica January 14, 2016 at 5:29 pm - Reply

      Note to self.. long arm loppers 🙂

  39. CherryPie January 13, 2016 at 11:03 pm - Reply

    I think your woodpecker might be a bit surprised to find that it isn’t quite spring yet!!

    • Jessica January 14, 2016 at 5:30 pm - Reply

      Today is so cold.. if he didn’t know it, he does now!

  40. SeagullSuzie January 14, 2016 at 1:43 pm - Reply

    Brilliant image and it’s lovely to have these great birds about. Marvellous work on your huge gardens Jessica you would seriously laugh if you saw the size of my tiny tree-less garden (will I ever forgive my husband for that one?).

    • Jessica January 14, 2016 at 5:33 pm - Reply

      It depends how much time you want to spend maintaining it.. a big garden tends to mean you are a slave to it and have little left (time or money) for anything else. Your husband might have had the right idea!

  41. karengimson January 14, 2016 at 10:12 pm - Reply

    I might have to buy one of those log splitters. Looks like it makes light (er) work of it. Had a woodpecker on our crataeagus trees today. I love watching them ripping tiny bits of bark off and finding grubs. All the best- Karen

    • Jessica January 15, 2016 at 7:59 am - Reply

      Much lighter work. It’s definitely worth it if you have a lot of splitting to do. Woodpeckers are great birds to watch. I think (hope) we have a pair again this year, the chicks are gorgeous.

  42. Jayne Hill January 16, 2016 at 8:23 am - Reply

    Yikes, I have not seen the view in pic #4 before – when you talk about being on a slope I tend to imagine the sort of contours we have here. I thought our “1-in-12” was bad enough, but you win the perpendicular gardening trophy hand’s down!

    If Management were here I can see him suggesting wild constructions such as a viewing deck arranged on the top of Mike’s workshop roof . . .

    So much of what you are doing is (painfully) familiar to me. The trees which are distorted from lack of light, the delight of opening up a view, and the despair of a seemingly endless pile of timber. Hang in there with all that wood – eventually you do get on top of it and the resulting copious supply for the wood-burner is a joy every time you light the stove! We also love our powered wood splitter :-}

    • Jessica January 16, 2016 at 7:24 pm - Reply

      Yes, very steep. Most of the garden is at 45 degrees. Having a useable fireplace has been a real pleasure this year. And at least we know we’ll never run out of wood.

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