Plant a tree in ’73, plant some more in ’74 was a rhyme I remember chanting with my grandfather when I was a child and any trees planted back then would be fine specimens indeed by now.
Now, 45 years after the event, we have just planted 150 mixed native trees along the cliff line.
There were no trees growing along the cliff line on the meadows and the trees you see are Hawthorns, Blackthorn and Elder growing on the cliff, heavily clad in ivy and most are probably nearing the end of their lives.
The trees are bare rooted other than one Beech that we are going to plant up in the paddock.
There is a lovely mixture of British native trees – Dogwood, Hazel, Beech, Yew, Oak, Guelder Rose and Wayfarer. There is also a non-native tree – Alder Buckthorn – which we are specifically planting for Brimstone Butterflies. These butterflies are totally specific to Alder Buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula) and will fly for miles and miles to try to find one to lay their eggs. We want to make life a little easier for them.
With this number of trees, we cannot hope to keep them watered properly in the first year until they establish themselves. And so they will just have to do as best as they can and we will hope for regular overnight rain. However, there are skirts that you can buy that go round each young tree on the ground to keep the grass at bay which will be competing for water and nutrients and might just give them an extra helping hand. We are going to investigate that option in the coming couple of weeks.
The chances are that we will not be around when these trees reach maturity but we will enjoy them as they grow and they will be a small legacy to the world that our children and grandchildren inhabit.