Gardeners urged to support woodlands by buying British beanpoles

Organisers of National Beanpole Week 2011, which takes place between 23 April and 1 May, have called on the nation’s gardeners to support Britain’s woodlands, and their beans, by switching to British coppiced beanpoles

Britain lost around 90% of its coppiced woodland during the 20th century – over 500,000 acres. Gardeners can help reverse this decline, say campaigners, by choosing British coppiced beanpoles.

Coppicing is the craft of carefully cutting trees to ground level and managing the young new shoots to a usable size before cutting again. Most deciduous British native trees and shrubs can be coppiced, says the Small Woods Association, which supports Britain’s managed coppiced woodlands and is the organisation behind National Beanpole Week.

The group promotes traditional long-rotation coppicing methods, which greatly improve a wood’s ability to support a wide range of species, it says. Coppice workers avoid the use of synthetic sprays and fertilizers, and coppiced products are usually produced and sold locally, whereas the alternatives often need to be imported over large distances.

Coppiced beanpoles are harvested in rotation, ensuring a continual supply of eco-friendly wood and creating a rich patchwork habitat for all kinds of animals and plants, from dormice to orchids. The time between cutting varies, depending on the tree species and the intended use of the wood. For example, willow is usually cut every 1-3 years, hazel every 6-8 years, and chestnut and oak every 20-40 years. This growing and harvesting cycle is ongoing and can continue on the same trees for many hundreds of years. Coppicing usually extends the life of trees, with the oldest woodland trees often being those that have been coppiced.

“I use British coppiced beanpoles and pea sticks because they provide excellent support for beans, dahlias and other plants, and also because they look really good in the garden,” said gardening expert and broadcaster Toby Buckland, who is backing National Beanpole Week’s campaign.

“When you choose British grown coppiced beanpoles, you make the right choice for our native woodlands, local jobs, wildlife and the environment,” Toby continued. “You also make the right choice for your garden because coppiced beanpoles are so easy and pleasurable to work with, and provide plants with all the grip and support they need.”

This year’s National Beanpole Week includes events around the country, from coppice wood gardening workshops to a beanpole fayre.
“National Beanpole Week offers something for everyone, so we look forward to seeing a great turnout of people who want to find out about coppicing, and support our native woodlands and their beans,” said event director Richard Thomason. “And in this age of economic crisis, it shouldn’t be forgotten that you’ll also be supporting rural jobs when you switch to British coppiced beanpoles. Our coppiced woodlands provide employment for over 500 coppice workers.”

A bundle of 11 coppiced beanpoles typically costs between £5 and £7.50 say National Beanpole Week organisers. Information about where to buy them is available via the event website.