IF the trees in the picture look as
if they have suffered extreme vandalism, don't worry. They are
meant to look like that. They have just received the willow
trees' equivalent of a manicure
and haircut. Known in
forestry as pollarding. It happens roughly
every five years, involving - as you can see -
all shoots to the main stem. If it seems like arboreal cruelty
when the trees have put in all that effort to grow big and
strong, it is good for them in that it encourages new growth!
Although I seem to be writing very knowledgably on this subject,
I have, in fact, had all this from James Thompson, the Nantwich
Riverside Project Manager. He told me: "Notices
were placed on site to inform people of what is happening. This
is an important management process both historically and
"The upper Weaver and its banks are characterised by willow
trees and in particular those taking the pollarded form.
Historically, all the willow trees on the river in Nantwich were
managed in this way. Traditionally they would be managed in
this way for the following and important reasons, some of which
are still relevant today:
growing part of the tree is kept high out of the reach of
is encouraged for firewood production and for weaving
reduction of the crown weight of these ‘crack’ willows stops
them breaking up.
prolongs the life of the trees."
James added: "Sadly some willows on the riverside have been
lost, or have broken up and are falling into the river. It is
one of our aims to have all appropriate riverside willows under
management to restore some of the ancient landscape character.
A combination of pollarded willows at various stages are an
excellent habitat for a variety of species.
I am hoping to get some interpretation boards for the area in
the future which will inform/educate Riverside visitors. The
trees in the picture are particularly interesting as they were
once ‘riverside trees’ until the river was diverted in the '
Before long the newly-trimmed trees will have put on growth -
like the one seen on the left.
But not all the trees in the area are fitting. As James said:
"There are species, planted in the ' 70s, which are not
appropriate for this area. These are hybrid poplars (not native
black poplars, of which there are some present in the
Shrewbridge road area) bred to grow very quickly - and they grow
at astonishing rates.
trees are widely considered inappropriate for the area of public
open space as they have a habit of shedding limbs (sometimes
quite large) particularly in summer months. These trees are
slowly being made safe and removed in some places and we are
working closely with Nantwich in Bloom, the Rotary Club of
Nantwich and Riverside Concern to see that more appropriate
species are planted in their place.
removal of hybrid poplars in the town has recently met with some
public backlash and sadly we have not had chance to respond to
this as yet, but there is a huge number of people rooting for
the Riverside area and doing their best to ensure it is improved
for people and wildlife."
Picture left: One of the trees tree with new shoots
Upper Weaver - our part of the Weaver Valley improvement
(including a download of the Nantwich Riverside Park
Consultation document - July 2005).