Bay Copse

baycoppice1.jpgIn our region the Bay Laurel grows prolifically in the understory of second growth Coast Redwood. When mature, the tree can grow quite large and shapely and its wood has a rich, nutty brown grain I use frequently because of its availability and versatility. Yet the Bay Laurel is considered by many a weed. It grows quickly, takes root in many soils on practically any grade, and it can carry the dreaded Sudden Oak Disease.I’m beginning to experiment with coppicing several Bay trunks, or stools, on our property. Coppicing takes  advantage of the rapid early growth of multiple, straight new trunks from the stump or stool of a single tree. This process occurs naturally when a tree falls and remains alive in the forest, but can be cultivated more predictably. A well-managed coppice, harvested on regular cycles, greatly prolongs the life of a tree and yields an almost endless supply of material. This winter I plan to cultivate enough coppiced Bay Laurel to use in a chair production in about 3 years, using naturally grown poles to prototype in the meantime. If my project proves successful, I hope to develop similar coppices on sequential cyles on neighboring properties to scale up production.

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