Daeda's Wood

In 1996, Daeda's Wood was created for us and for future generations.

Wildflower plantingIf you 'go down to the woods today' you really are in for a big surprise, especially if you've not been recently. Please observe the Countryside Code.

Once a nine-acre field of waving corn, Daeda's Wood is now a spread of 3,500 maturing trees; a stretch of path for the less able-bodied to stroll more easily down to the boundary river Swere; a couple of seats; open areas which are a tangle of wild flowers in due season.

Daeda's Wood was the very first in the Woods-on-Your-Doorstep Millennium project sponsored by the the Woodland Trust, with financial backing from the Millennium Commission and supporters such as the Cherwell District Council ... and not least the parishioners of Deddington. In order to qualify we had to raise £9000 in a very few weeks.

Winter plantingDeddingtonians - well over 100 of them - turned out with their spades at the tree-planting in near blizzard conditions in November 1996. A few months later, in rather friendlier conditions, we were out there again sowing seeds for the wild flower areas.

The wood's contorted northern boundary is formed by the River Swere. This dictated the riverine nature of the new wood, and thus the trees planted: ash, five species of willow, oak, alder, grey and black poplar, aspen, downy birch, osier, hawthorn, blackthorn and guelder rose. Some of the oak seedlings originated from the ancient oaks in Windsor Great Park.

But Daeda's Wood is no park. It will be allowed to develop as naturally as possible, so expect to see grass and rank vegetation left to provide habitat for insects and birds. As the trees mature, the resulting canopy will continue to change the habitat.

Spring meadowBecause this is a developing new habitat, the variety of wild flowers will increase and change as the wood matures. Currently, from spring onwards you can expect clumps of red and white campion, pink threads of delicate ragged robin, the bold ox-eye daisy. Later come lovely mauve clusters of meadow cranesbill, purple knapweed, the scarlet splash of poppies and waving banks of rosebay willowherb. And later still there will be handsome rose-pink musk mallow, white or pink flowerheads of yarrow, and large white umbellifers of angelica. Purple loosestrife add their bright spikes to the Swere's banks and water lilies drift on the water itself.

The Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) chose the Swere's banks as one of their sites for an otter's holt. Sections of the river banks are also home to unusual populations of the Beautiful Demoiselle and Banded Demoiselle damselflies.

There is already a wide variety of birds. In winter sizeable flocks of visiting fieldfare settle on the surrounding fields or noisily in the mature trees. Along the river you may see the brilliant flash of a kingfisher, the flurry of mallard or moorhen, or a heron at lift-off. Flocks of yellowhammer are ever-present; often tree sparrows or groups of long-tailed tits flitting through the trees. Usually there's a kestrel on the hunt, possibly a great spotted woodpecker. As the trees have matured, there are increasing summer populations of warbler - whitethroat, willow warbler, chiffchaff, blackcap, garden warbler. And, hopefully one night, a nightingale.

Strolling in Daeda's wood4 June 2000 was a truly happy day when a Millennium Family Picnic attracted at least 100 picnickers of all ages, but especially families with young children. Most participated enthusiastically in the tugs-of-war and treasure hunt organised by the Friends of Daeda's Wood. The weather gods were kind, the wild flowers at their multi-coloured best, not a radio or mobile phone in sight and, afterwards, not a scrap of litter to be found. On 22 October 22, a second wildflower planting event took place thanks to the anonymous generosity of a local resident. Two dozen enthusiasts (from 20 months to four-score years) planted 600 plugs representing eight species on a golden autumn afternoon.

A second midsummer family picnic took place in 2002 to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee Year with prizes presented by local TV celebrity, John Craven.

We also created a special display of photographs and text which will be expanded as the wood develops. This display was made available for several weeks at a time at local venues and one day events such as the county-wide Countryside Forum and Environmental Extravaganza. Over the years it has been on view at our local school, library and fine Parish Church.

A Diary of Daeda's Wood was published in 2006 to mark its 10th anniversary. It describes the highlights of each year, with features on Daeda's flowers, butterflies, animals, birds and river, and plans for the future.

A Walk round Daeda's Wood is one of may delightful walks in the parish

Before Daeda's Wood - Ron Canning memories