In a previous house, we had a Guelder Rose (Viburnum opulus) tree at the bottom of the garden. This tree had beautiful white flowers in the Spring but its real glory was its red berries in the Autumn and the birds that flocked to it to strip them off. We had a Man Cave at the bottom of the garden with the window looking out over this tree and you could sit at the desk pretending to be ‘working at home’ while really watching Song Thrushes on the ground doing wing-assisted jumping to get to the berries. In Waxwing Winters there were occasionally large flocks of these exotic looking birds that descended on the tree in a great mass stripping it all within half an hour. Fantastic.
With this in mind, we were very keen to plant some Guelder Rose here in the meadows since those berries really do seem to be exceptionally tasty to birdlife. We also thought we would try the Wayfaring Tree, Viburnum lantana, which is related but different but also carries wildlife friendly berries in the Autumn.
The land by the gate into the meadows is very open and people do regularly pass the gate to walk their dogs on the farmers field behind.
Our plan was to plant two little copses of mixed Guelder Roses and Wayfaring Trees which would hopefully mean that there is a concentration of berries in the Autumn in this area that we can stake out and watch the birds in, as well as providing a little bit more privacy, at least during the Summer when they are in leaf.
To this end I ordered 30 bare root trees, 20 Guelder Rose and 10 Wayfarer from Ashridge Nurseries in Castle Cary in Somerset. They have now arrived (I think they dig them up once they have lost their leaves) and today was scheduled as planting day and luckily it was neither raining nor windy.
The bare root trees were supplied with RootGrow sachets which is a preparation of Mycorrhizal fungus. It was in granular form that needed scattering at the bottom of the hole so that the roots were in contact with it. Mycorrhiza are fungi that are beneficial to plants, growing in and around the root system and extending the effective absorptive surface. The fungal strands take sugars from the plants but absorb water and nutrients which they give to the plant. It is also thought that the Mycorrhizas help the plant absorb phosphorus and also that they protect it from some disease, so they are very good news.
Planting 30 trees in one afternoon was a bit of a race to get done before all daylight went but we did achieve it. We have pressed the soil down very firmly with our feet around the trees and they feel very firm and so we are hoping that they won’t require staking. They’ve all been watered with multiple watering cans full and I think the heavens also have plans to help out over the next few days looking at the forecast. And so now its a question of keeping a bit of an eye on them to check they are not getting blown around and then waiting to see what bursts forth in Spring. Can’t wait.