Collecting Wild Plants: Privet/Ligustrum ovalfolium Progression Series (Part I).

This tree and a number of other stumps came from a hedge on the England/Wales border (in Shropshire) that had to be grubbed-up to make way for building work.

This picture shows the hedge after it had been dug up and bought to my house in August 2004. August isn't a good time of the year to dig up trees.

However these Privet had their roots wrapped in wet newspaper and were bagged up to keep the roots as moist as possible before being taken home. Privet are a very strong species; even after bare rooting to remove the wet clay soil at their roots, not one of these trees died By May 2005 all of the collected stumps had sprouted well and were growly strongly.

This stump in particular had rooted so strongly that new roots were starting to appear from inbetween the cracks in the wooden box it had been planted in! The centre of this stump was rotting badly. Before I could consider how to style this tree, it was necessary to see which parts of the deadwood could be saved and protected from rotting further and which parts were so pulpy and soft that they needed removing.
Privet Progression Series

Privet Progression Series

Privet Progression Series
I spent around 3 hours carefully carving away the soft pulpy wood in the centre of the tree.
In my dremel rotary tool I used an ordinary drill bit that could easily remove the soft and pulpy wood, but wouldn't remove the stronger hard wood that hadn't started to rot.
The result was a very natural natural deadwood feature that hadn't been forced into shape by more intrusive carving methods.
Privet Progression Series
The trunk turned out to be completely hollow; having loosened the rotted wood with the dremel, the loosened chips of wood had to be literally spooned out of the hollow!
Privet Progression Series
The right hand side of the tree had some long surface roots that I decided to keep as they add interest to the tree. They are an interesting mixture of deadwood and live wood (there are in fact live roots that continue to support the tree in this area).
The centre of this feature is also hollow and connects to the central cavern of the tree.
Privet Progression Series
To halt the natural effects of rotting, the remaining deadwood was then treated with several coats of wood-hardener.
A remaining problem was that this hollow acted as a reservoir every time the tree was watered. If the water was not allowed to drain out of the centre of the tree, the remaining deadwood would soon rot away.
Using a long flat drill bit I bored out a hole in the very base of the trunk (this round darker area can just be seen in this image) to act as a drainage hole so rain and water can run out into the soil below.
Privet Progression Series
By July 2005 the tree had grown so strongly that I was able to risk chopping back most of the tall trunks or stumps from the tree.
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