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The Harnham Water Meadows Framework Management Plan - Annexes

Annex XIII. Pollarding and the tree survey

Tree Survey of Harnham Water Meadows

Dr Jamie Compton and Anna Robinson

Historically trees would have been used to create boundaries between the fields of the water meadows. Trees typical of this damp habitat include Willows (various species including predominately White Willow (Salix alba) and Crack Willow (Salix fragilis)) and Alder (Alnus glutinosa). Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) is also common on slightly drier soils. Most of the Willows on this site have been ‘pollarded’, which involves being cut a couple of meters up from the base and allowed to regenerate. Regular pollarding prevents them from growing too big, which would make them prone to falling down on such damp soils. Trees are cut near the top rather than at the base (coppicing) to prevent the new shoots being grazed by livestock. Smaller trees/shrubs that have been used to create hedging on the Harnham Water Meadows include Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa), and Hazel (Corylus avellana).

Location of trees referred to in the text

Location of trees referred to in the text

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Some of the hedges on the meadows are less intact than they used be (as observed from the 1949 aerial photograph), for example the boundary between Two Acres and Four Acres. However, in other areas new trees have been planted. In particular there are now small blocks of tree plantations where meadows used to be floated, as in ‘part of Cooper’s Mead’.

The Harnham Water Meadows, an Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA), are managed partly to reinstate traditional floating for historical and agricultural purposes, but are also managed as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Although not traditional, and encroaching on land which could be floated, the small areas of plantation have a conservation value in their own right and it would be insensitive to clear them in order to restore the water meadows, partly because they represent bequests from individuals to the Harnham Water Meadows Trust. A compromise needs to be reached to create a mosaic of different habitats to meet different management objectives.

This tree survey was carried out for several reasons:

Identify trees present including any of specific interest

Identify trees present including any of specific interest

Identify areas where new trees could be planted

Create a tree management plan, eg regular pollarding of willow

Neave’s Mead ( Modern Rose Cottage Garden across Carriage from Sluice ‘S9’

1) The northern border contains two Lombardy poplars, and several ash and willow trees, many of which are fairly old (estimated at 80-100 years). There is also a very old, black poplar, which is worth preserving. This was probably once pollarded as it splits into two (recently three) main branches fairly low down. However, one has blown down (autumn 2006) and the tree is leaning at a potentially dangerous angle. It is sheltered from easterly winds by other trees, including an old, non-pollarded willow, but it would be more stable if the top were lopped.

2) Many trees of various ages are scattered throughout Neave’s Mead. None are very old and many are cultivated species that have been planted. Species include Turkish maple, firs, laurel, apple, beech, buddleia, hawthorn, silver birch, horse chestnut, sycamore, hazel, willow, and ash.

3) On south border of Neave’s Mead are a gean and some ornamental cotoneasters. To the south east corner is an old horse chestnut tree.

Great Mead

4) SE boundary adjacent to town path containing many hawthorns and blackthorns. Two ash trees are indicated by dots on map.

5) There are seven willows growing alongside this channel, six of which have been pollarded. There are also four ash trees growing near channel.

6) Two alders are growing in the wall of sluice S1. This does not appear to be damaging the sluice itself, although some bricks from the wall a little way back from the sluice have been dislodged into the channel.

7) A few old alders, a young willow and some poplar saplings are growing by sluice S7. An alder is growing into the wall by the sluice, but is not damaging the structure at the moment.

8) A very old, coppiced alder is growing near sluice S2.

9) A small area of plantation, under 10 years of age, including ash, field maple, poplar, hawthorn, blackthorn, sycamore, willow, hazel, alder, dogwood and cherry.

10) Willow sapling by bank of river.

11) The boundary between Ivy/Cooper’s Mead and Great Mead contains a willow tree and a sycamore tree adjacent to each other (indicated by dots on map) and several hawthorns. The sycamore, which is approximately 50 years old, is an indicator that the ground hasn’t been wet for a long time.

12) Honey fungus found at base of gate post. This feeds on wood and would be damaging if it spreads to the trees. It needs to be treated with fungicide.

13) A border of young planted trees, including field maple, euonymus, and dogwood. There is some evidence of grazing by deer. There is a mature holly tree at the south eastern end.

14) An old coppiced ash, possibly forming a hedge bank.

15) Blackthorn and hawthorn, and two old ash trees (indicated by dots on the map). One tree has been split at base, both trunks growing into trees. The other has been layered as a hedge.

16) Four ash trees growing near sluice and along town path (indicated by dots on map). The roots of an alder (from tree across town path) can be seen growing through wall of the channel by the sluice. This does not seem to be a problem at present.

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Ivy/Cooper’s Mead

17) A small alder.

18) Two willow saplings.

19) A hawthorn.

20) Recent tree plantation (about 10 years old). Species include willow, field maples, cherry, oak, hazel, and black poplar. Trees need sensitively thinning and/or topping to let more light in. Note, some trees have been planted in memory of people.

21) There are twelve willow pollards along north east border. There is also some dogwood, field maple and ash hedging to the northern end of the border.

Nail’s Mead

22) A strip of woodland on boundary between Nail’s Mead and Ivy/Cooper’s Mead, including willow, ash, cherry and three large ancient oak trees (estimated at around 200 years old (their position is shown by dots on the map). The oak trees are covered in ivy and dog rose, and are valuable for wildlife (there is a barn owl box on one). They indicate dryer ground. At northern end of the wooded strip are a large ash, and five large willows, four of which have been coppiced.

23) Riverside border of Nail’s Mead and Two Acres containing about six different species of Willow, including: broad leaved willow, weeping willow, goat willow and an ornamental tortured willow (prominent trees are indicated on map).

Four Acres

24) This is an ancient hedge boundary, although it now contains large gaps, particularly towards the south. Its main constituents are hawthorn and coppiced hazel (see photograph 11). There are two prominent trees (indicated on the map), a layered ash to the northern end of the boundary, and a large layered willow pollard to the southern end. There is also and a dead willow pollard at the southern end of the boundary.

25) Crack Willow.

Parker’s Mead

26) Black poplar sapling.

Sammel’s Acre

27) North eastern border contains blackthorn hedging with some hawthorn and a coppiced ash.

Martin’s Mead

28) Densely wooded river bank, including four old black poplars, indicated on the map. The third most northerly tree needs branches cutting off to make it more stable.

29) An isolated hawthorn.

30) Six willow pollards are growing along the bank of this channel running from Snow’s Acre to Martin’s Mead. Some hawthorn, blackthorn and dogwood are growing between trees.

Snow’s Acre

31) Three fairly old pollarded willow trees in line along channel. They are fairly large, despite being last pollarded 3-4 years ago.

32) An isolated non-native rowan tree (Sorbus sp), has been planted. It is enclosed to prevent damage by grazing. This species is not appropriate for a traditional water meadow, although the tree is not causing any harm. Note, it may have been planted in remembrance of someone. The tree could be left or transplanted.

33) The north western boundary mainly consists of ash trees with an under storey of hawthorn and some blackthorn. There is also a sycamore tree to the northern end.

34) There are a couple of old alders and an ash which have been coppiced near the hatch pool in the northern corner of Snow’s Acre. This was by the council to stop them from obstructing the town path.

35) Many natural willows extend half way along this boundary. Most are fairly young, although one is older. All need pollarding at some point. There is also a coppiced ash.

Parsonage Mead to Longbridge Mead

36) Old oak tree.

37) Coppiced ash.

38) Pollarded willow.

39) Ash tree (estimated 80 years old) growing in way of defunct carrier, not in line with hedge. Ash grows in dryer conditions than willow and would not have established if the carrier were still in use.

40) Hedge running alongside town path (Parsonage Mead, Hussey’s Mead, Rowlas Mead) contains some well established trees but is not very ancient. I It contains predominantly willow and ash, with some field maple. Many trees have been coppiced and some show traditional hedge layering. There is a large ash tree (indicated on map) growing a little way out from hedge over remains of bridge crossing defunct carrier. This is unlikely to have established if the carrier were still in use.

41) Boundary alongside northern end of town path (Longbridge Mead) contains several, mainly young, not particularly healthy looking, willows. At the northern end are an old coppiced ash and an old layered willow.

42) Typical self-seeded river marginal plants including four species of willow.

Deanery Mead

43) Coppiced alders.

44) Black poplar.

Seven Acres

45) Boundary with Deanery Mead. A hedge consisting of willow, a few large ashes and a field maple. There is a mixture of natural, pollarded and coppiced trees. Jeremy Wood adds: one small Bird Cherry (Prunus padus) between footbridge and River Avon.

46) Small area of fairly recent plantation (within last 10 years). Species include willow, field maple, elder, hawthorn, oak, and hazel. Area is becoming encroached with brambles and nettles.

47) Coppiced willow.

48) Boundary with Nine Acres. Trees, from north east to south west, include: three willows (one coppiced, two pollarded), an ash, a willow pollard almost co-joined to an ash, a willow, several fairly old coppiced hazels, hawthorn, and several fairly large ash trees (all coppiced apart from one natural).

Nine Acres

49) Very old willow pollard, in need of pollarding.

50) A line of trees growing along side channel. From north west to south east, a willow pollard in poor condition, a hawthorn, a large ash pollard, a medium sized willow pollard, a hawthorn and an old large willow pollard.

51) A few old willow pollards, one of which is dead.

52) Old pollarded willow

Five Acres

53) A line of trees along channel in Five Acres. From north west to south east, an ash (possibly pollarded), a goat willow, an ash, and another very old ash with visible raised up roots. There is also some hawthorn and blackthorn.

54) This boundary contains ten willow pollards as well as some hawthorn and blackthorn.

55) The south east border of Five Acres. From north east to south west, an ash pollard, two natural ash trees, one of which is cracked along the trunk and may be dangerous, two pollarded willows, and an ash.

56) Border adjacent to river has fewer trees. There are small pollarded willows at the positions indicated by dots on the map.

57) Two recently pollarded willows, one by sluice. This Willow should be removed as it is affecting the hatch structure/channel. To west of sluice is a tall ash tree, and some natural willows, which would benefit from pollarding.

58) A large trembling poplar (Populus tremular) on Scout’s Island, amongst many ash and willow trees.

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Summary Action table:



Condition: Coppiced ©

Pollarded (P)

Natural (N)

Estimated Age


Action Needed


High (H)

Medium (M)

Low (L)

Neave’s Mead, 1


Black Poplar


Over 100 years


Valuable tree. Worth preserving.

Lop off top as shown in photograph.


Great Mead, 9

Plantation, several spp.



OK to leave at moment, but will need to be thinned in future.



Great Mead, 12

Honey Fungus



Feeds on wood. May be dangerous to nearby trees.

Treat with fungicide next year before fruiting bodies sporulate.


Great Mead, 13

Plantation, several spp.


Young, under 5 years

OK to leave at moment, but will need to be thinned in future.



Cooper’s Mead, 20

Plantation , several spp.


10 years

Becoming crowded.

Thin trees and/or chop off tops.


Four Acres, 24

Hedge including Blackthorn, Hawthorn, Ash, Hazel and Willow.

C, P


Hedge contains large gaps.

Restore hedge, possibly with traditional hedge laying techniques as used here in past.


Martin’s Mead, 28

Black Poplar


Fairly old

Tree unstable.

Lop off branch overhanging meadow.


Seven Acres


Plantation, several spp


10 years

Becoming encroached with brambles and nettles.

Remove brambles and nettles.


Five Acres, 55



Middle aged

Tree damaged, dangerous.

Fell tree.


Five Acres, 57a



Fairly old

Tree is growing on and disrupting hatch.

Remove. Research best method of killing, eg cut at base and apply chemical.






In need of repollarding.

Pollard willow trees every 5 years on rotation.


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