Muddy Boots ‘Wild wood’

One of the reasons that I haven’t been blogging as often this year is because I am busy training to be a Forest School Leader. I am loving the process and the whole concept of Forest School. I have always felt very at home in the woods and am loving introducing other people to this gentle way of interacting with each other and the natural world and seeing people appreciating the wonders of our natural environment.

Yesterday I ran my first ever Forest School taster session. It was so much fun! Ten families enjoyed a morning in the woods, making nature crowns, reading The Gruffolo, making dens for woodland creatures and Gruffolo caves for themselves. We rounded off the morning with hot drinks made on the Kelly Kettles and a picnic in the dappled shade of the hazel trees. I will be taking bookings soon for my regular Forest School sessions which start in September. I am loving my career path right now!

Here are ten photos from the day. IMG_7174 IMG_7170 IMG_7179 IMG_7224 IMG_7222 IMG_7238 IMG_7223 IMG_7211 IMG_7196 IMG_7185

Forest School teacher training

I am currently training to be a level 3 Forest Schools teacher. The course takes around nine months to complete and then I will be able to lead group of children or families for Forest School activities in the woods. Forest School teaches practical skills like tree identification, whittling, fire-lighting and den building alongside life skills like team-work, emotional intelligence and confidence building.

I am so excited! I have been wanting to do this training for years, but have never managed to find the money or time until now. I spotted a course in the woodland near to where we have our cabin, and decided to bite the bullet and book in. I have scraped together the cash and called in favours from family and friends to help with childcare. The course takes seven practical skills days and then 120 hours of writing. I have to plan and run six sessions for a client group taking then through a Forest Schools experience in either a wood belonging to a school or other setting. I am loving the course so far and thought I would share ten photos here on my blog that I took over the past few training days.

 

IMG_5846 The morning sun shining through the leaves still clinging onto a Beech tree.

IMG_5889Making an Elder bead necklace.

IMG_5884I co-lead a session making ‘nature crowns’ as part of a presentation on educational theory

IMG_5886 Making tent pegs by cutting and whittling a piece of wood.

IMG_5626 Collecting interesting tiny items on a woodland walk.

IMG_5629 Making a home for an owl!

IMG_5638 Using viewfinders to focus in on textures.

IMG_5831Lighting a fire using a flint ready to cook my lunch.

IMG_5641 Learning how to make a ‘wood-cookie’

IMG_5649My shadow looking enormous in thermal layers and waterproof! Full days spent out doors were wonderful but cold! It was very important to dress for the weather and drink lots of cups of tea.

Patterns I have noticed

My principle for this month is Design from pattern to detail. I have been trying to keep this in mind while I go about my daily business and I have been looking for patterns in nature when I am out and about. Here are some of the things that I noticed when I was walking yesterday.

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The branching pattern is everywhere. Tree trunks and branches, the ribs of leaves, streams and rivers, paths through the woods. It is even inside our own bodies. We can use this pattern to design paths through gardens that are functional and minimise space wastage.

We could also use this principle to plot our journeys through time or plan our projects. Start big and gradually fill in the details. For example if you were designing a new border in your garden you could use the branching pattern to structure your thinking.

1. Start with thinking why you wanted this new border and consider an overall picture of what you wanted to achieve (the base and trunk)                                                                2. Draw a base map of the space/study soil type/ consider orientation (the primary branches)                                                                                                                           3. Add some ideas for plant types/size/purpose/colour (The secondary branches)              4. Consider the actual plants you want (the smaller branches)                                             5. Finally think about placements of plants and companion planting. (the twigs)

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Nature always provides something interesting and beautiful to look at. Even in the depths of winter when the woods initially seem very brown and dull, if you look closely you can find something wonderful. I need to improve the winter interest in my garden and intend to do a post about this very soon.

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People and animals will often take the most direct route. In the woods near my house there are hard paths that create a triangle around a clearing. Most people cut straight across the clearing as it is the quickest route, even though it means having to veer off the path and get muddy. I need to remember this when designing paths. I read something about this too recently. In a building development, the designer didn’t make paths until the housing complex had been lived in for a while. He then went back and noted where people had walked by seeing the muddy paths their footfall had created. He then created paths that followed these lines. A great and simple solution I thought. In my garden I can definitely see a few places where there is a muddy trail through the grass, that is telling me we need a path putting in!

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There is no such thing as waste in nature. Everything is recycled into food or habitat for something else. A fallen tree becomes a home for insects and a host for moss and fungi. Ivy grows up it and a thousand tiny organisms work on it, slowly decomposing it and returning it to the soil.  I need to consider how I can use these patterns of cycling in my garden and make it more self-sufficient.

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In the woods there was practically no bare soil. The surface was covered with plant life or leaf litter. Mulching, ground cover and no-dig methods are following nature much more closely than the traditional autumn tidy-up and dig over. I have been mulching my vegetable beds for the last year or so and have abandoned digging. It is easier on the gardener’s back as well as being more effective. Mulching increases fertility, retains moisture and reduces weeds. By taking our lead from natures patterns we can make our gardens more fruitful and more beautiful.

Photos from this week

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An amazing den in the woods

Reflections in puddles

The tallest trees she had ever seen

Nativity

Blooming

A robin in the Christmas tree

The last leaves

Carol singing