Bugle, Ajuga reptans
We have had lots of bluebells, making a sea of blue. Another spectacular plant is Bugle (Ajuga reptans), a member of the mint family (and quite easily confused with Selfheal, Prunella vulgaris, another purplish mint family member). Bugle seems to like a dampish location with some drainage, and grows plentifully  in several large patches on a sloping ride, gradually spreading by runners. It is traditionally reputed as a wound herb, the leaf good to stem bleeding whether made into a decoction or as fresh poultice. John Quincy (1730 edition) in Pharmacopoea Officinalis & Extemporanea mentions Bugle in passing when listing ‘agglutinents’ like Cranesbill, Hound’s Tongue, Plantain, Shepherd’s Purse and others. Culpeper recommends making a syrup. But we have not harvested this plant – it is far to attractive to bees and seems to be an important plant flowering for them earlier in the year. 
Pollarded Violet Willow, Salix daphnoides
Stumps after pollarding
On the other hand, we have had to be decisive and begin to harvest some of the faster-growing trees, otherwise they will become impossibly big and crowded. However, we keep having second thoughts about cutting down trees. The original intention was to coppice our willow and others on a cycle of years long enough to allow a good return of tree bark. In the effort to get the whole project established many of these trees have been left undisturbed for as much as six years. By trial and error I have found that Violet Willow can be pollarded at 4 to 5 feet height and will then produce a number of good size branches in subsequent years. So I have started to pollard more White Willow, Violet Willow and Cramp Bark trees to try to better understand this process. There are a number of questions that need answering – should the first ‘pollarding’ be carried out before a certain age, can pollarding be done when bark is easy to harvest, how is pollarding different to coppicing at the base of the tree, does pollarding height matter etc etc? So I will be trying to figure out some answers by monitoring the progress of these trees over the coming years. The stumps do look rather forlorn and bare right now, but the ground has been opened up to allow other plants to grow, and hopefully the trees will recover to provide an ongoing pollardable source of bark.