No one was more surprised than me to learn that – among other things – this week is National Beanpole Week. For the uninitiated it is a celebration of coppiced woodlands and the good folk who manage them. It is not, as my children suggested, a celebration of the overly tall and thin – although I’m happy to celebrate anyone tall enough to spring clean my kitchen cupboards without the aid of a stepladder. Coppicing is the best and most eco friendly way to manage woodland in my opinion; and the best way to support it is to buy your posts, beanpoles, peasticks, hurdles, firewood and all manner of other goodies from a local source.
For our member schools who are Eco schools, as for anyone looking to source products locally, coppiced hazel poles are the most beautiful and effective supports for all those sweet peas that are ready to be planted out. I find that bamboo is too shiny to provide a great climbing surface. At one of our member schools they have been lucky enough to receive a job lot of coppiced hazel as a result of tidying up work along the canal towpath. In the past I’ve been the lucky recipient of my mate Phil’s largesse. (He volunteers in the woods for a local charity.) And I am lucky enough to have a hazel in a corner of the garden which I raid every once in a while for a pole or two.
For those without a source of their own or useful friends then the Coppice Products website will signpost you to a local supplier. Many of them also run courses. If you want to grow local seasonal flowers then it makes sense to use local seasonal products. I will be planting out my own sweet peas round a hazel wigwam in my new garden cutting patch tomorrow – just like my Great Granny used to do. Some traditions are hard to beat.