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Horndean Beeches

Horndean BEECHES
BEECH Trees around Horndean

Beeches are large majestic trees of great beauty in all seasons so where ever they occur they are a highly valued part of the landscape. They do not live as long as oaks, even very large pollarded beeches rarely live much more than 400 years. In Horndean most of our beeches like the calcareous and well drained soils around Catherington, Clanfield, the Hangers and the Holt where there are plantations of younger beech as well as magnificent giants on the Monarch's Way. In Yoell's Copse several beech are growing on the Reading Beds clay but here this is underlain by the chalk.
Beech are shallow rooted trees and are unfortunately vulnerable to strong winds and periods of severe drought. There is often little warning, a large beech at the top of Catherington Down fell over on a sunny day in mid-July. The most wonderful site is to see graceful beeches in spring at bluebell time and these feature in the Picture Gallery.

Roadside Beeches

(1)and(2) The best known beech in the parish, the centre piece of Catherington, in summer and winter and (3) with details of the trunk. (4) A little further north along Catherington lane at the junction with White Dirt Lane are a group of about 30 thin and fairly tall beeches with a TPO (EH283/518) placed on them in June 1971.(5) An avenue of about 50 beeches on a steep slope on the north east side of the road that runs up the hill across Netherley Down (SU 723140) and (6) Some of the great trunks, a few have died,rotted and been replaced with young planted beech. Through these trees are magnificent views of downland towards Wick Farm and Chalton. (7) A large beech on the south side No.64 Five Heads Road with a TPO (EH166)- other beech trees with TPOs are at 7 Southdown Road (EH318) and adjacent to Walden Gardens (EH373) (8) In Catherington near Butts Cottage some beeches show bright autumn colours

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(1) 7th July 2008
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(2) 4th Feb 2009
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(3) 29th Jan 2009
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(4) July 2005
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(5) 10th Dec 2005
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(6) 10th Dec 2005
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(7) 11th Jan 2002
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(8) 19th Nov 2006
Beech Woodlands

The 3 southern parishes of East Hampshire between them have some of the finest bluebell woods in Hampshire (Clanfield, Horndean and Rowlands Castle). In all of these woodland areas Beeches feature as the main species present. Climate change may be responsible for the bluebells flowering in many areas up to a month earlier than only 25 years ago and now they are often flowering from March onwards and past their best by May. There does not seem to be a decline in flowering areas but the two main threats seem to be increased human trampling and invasion by agressive species such as ivy, holly, bracken etc. Some years are better than others, reflecting weather conditions and our photographs show 2007 as a very good year. Walking in Beechwoods in springtime is one of the most wonderful experiences in the English countryside, long may they survive.
(9) Yoell's Copse (SU 688128) has some large beech mainly on the north east side, not fine specimen trees and some on the decline in a small isolated wood of mixed species, the beech were possibly planted between one and two hundred years ago. Thinning of the less healthy trees might be a good idea.
(10)and (11) Lowton's Copse north of Clanfield (SU 697169) has many fine pollards, two can be seen in the picture but there are many more throughout the wood.
(12) The Holt where there are many very large tall maiden beeches along the Monarchs Way leading from Horndean, Pyle Farm to Rowland's castle (SU 719119) and the picture shows an area of young beech plantation growing through a sea of bluebells.

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(9) 12th May 2001
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(10) June 1990
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(11) April 2007
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(12) April 2007
Dead,Dying and decaying Beeches

There are several dead, dying or decaying beeches in the area. Some have lived for about 300 years plus but they do not live as long as oaks. Dead trees are of great value to wildlife especially invertebrates that are an essential source of food for birds and some are left standing and many are left to rot on the ground. In the pictures -
(13) shows a lone dead beech at the end of Munday's Row to the west of Catherington Down, (14) shows the base and trunk of a large fallen beech in Park Wood south of Cowplain. There are a few like this in Yoell's Copse. They have become a rich habitat for mosses and leafy liverworts and a good source of food for the many green and spotted woodpeckers that are a common sight in Horndean.
(15) This very large bracket fungus (Ganoderma) was found on a very large beech near Hambledon cricket ground. The tree has now collapsed with the main trunk lying on the ground rotting. The fungus is about two foot across. Large beeches are very prone to fungal decay which considerably weakens the strength of the timber.
(16) This very large dead pollarded beech has been left standing in the ancient woodland at the Mens in West Sussex near Petworth, well worth a visit, now owned by Sussex Wildlife Trust (TQ023237). There are many amazing oak and beech pollards, this one is truly an ancient monument.
(17) A rare sight, these are beech seedlings just coming up at the top of Catherington Down near the stile where there are some very large beeches, some showing rot. It was here that a large beech collapsed into the field on a warm sunny July day. They sadly only live to half the age of an oak.(18) A row of fine beeches can be seen at the back of the Old Vicarage north of Parsonage Field (SU696146).(19) A young beech growing at the back of Catherington Village Hall. An application was made in 2008 to remove this tree (Applic28647/004) to give more space to a childrens play area, hopefully both children and tree can continue to share the space and the tree will not be lost. (20) Finally, the commonest variant of the common beech is the copper beech (Still Fagus sylvatica), this specimen is growing in the east side of Parsonage Field, Catherington (SU694144). There are some more copper beeches growing down Five Heads Road just south of the Farmhouse (SU7013) where the 3 trees had a TPO placed on them in April 1985 (EH151)- hopefully they are still growing healthily.

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(13) 1st Jan 2002
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(14) 30th Dec 2001
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(15) 14th Jan 2008
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(16) Oct 1986
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(17) May 1991
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(18) Aug 1990
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(19) 28th Oct 2008
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(20) 26th May 2003
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