Coppicing for structural benefits

In her Vosges garden, Cathy Thompson gets creative with hazel and willow

Although March is a busy month, there is something that I prioritise in the first days, before leaves begin to burst: coppicing hazel, dogwood and willow for their stems that fulfil a multitude of practical garden needs.

I always start with hazel, after the catkins have been enjoyed with snowdrops in February. You will, of course, have to sacrifice nuts for a year. But since hazels are normally coppiced on a cycle of every three to seven years, with a little thought and rotation you can have a nut-bearing bush or two each year.

Even if you have plenty of space to grow hazel as a small tree, it is worth coppicing because the stems are so useful – a regularly coppiced hazel produces as many strong, thick stems for pea and bean supports as your heart desires.

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