Ashdown Forest is the backyard for nature table explorers Edmund and Reccy. They loved these beautiful Beech trees on a walk.
The Ashdown Forest is in the Hugh Weald, an area of outstanding natural beauty 30 miles south of London in Sussex.
The forest is made up of 60% heathland and 40% woodland. It is an unique environment that has developed through 900 years of mans influence. The area was used as a royal hunting ground for deer, it has been used and is still used as common land with grazing rights. It has never been ploughed or cultivated. It has however been used by the military and exploited for its resources.
The Ashdown forest is famous as the setting for Winnie the Pooh by A.A Milne, he lived on the northern edge of the forest.
It is the largest single block of lowland heath in south east England. The rocks below the forest are mainly sandstones from the Lower Cretaceous. This together with the climate create podzolic soils. These soils are acidic , Clay poor and nutrient poor. It is on these soils that heathland and damp woodland develops.
The Beech trees often mark former boundaries in the forest. The tree in the photo seems to be one of these trees, it is planted on a man made ridge.
Beech (Fagus sylvaticus) can grow up to 40M and have a very large domed crown. They have delicate lime green leaves in the spring that darken up and turn glorious colours in the Autumn. The leaves are arranged in a wonderful mosaic catching as much light as possible and are worth a look up at while lying on the forest floor. Under these trees there is very little plant life because of the lack of light.
These trees can live for hundreds of years and if coppiced can live for a 1000! These coppice trees could have been used in 1066 !!
Forked Beech twigs are traditionally used as water dividers. Beech nuts, the almost triangular fruits were once used as pig food. In France the nuts are sometimes roasted and used as a coffee substitute.