Saturday, 29 December 2007

Netherwood Farm

(Our guest blogger today is Geoff, because I was off doing family christmas stuff in

Today we planted at Netherwood Farm, a site we have visited over
several yearsand planted in 3 phases. Some of the trees are quite
mature now but at the very top of the site they have not taken so well
due to the exposed conditions, so today we were infiling with quick
growing under-story species, hazel and Italianalder plus a few sitca
spruce. These will hopefully help to give more shelter in
the medium term to the slower growing species such as oak.
The weather wasmostly good, bright and sunny but cold and windy,
though the rain came ontowards theend of the morning as is so
often the case.

A low turn out today (Guy, Cath, Geoff and later Brian) but we
still planted about 135 trees (the majority of which still need
guarding), though theabsence of Simon meant no cake so
we had to make do with various

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Cowlersley School and Worts Hill

A two for the price of one morning, and very much a game of two halves.

The morning started oddly, with the non-appearance of our leader, Philip. His door was knocked on, he was phoned repeatedly. No sign of him a the nursery. Rumours started to fly. Apparently it had been his mill's works do the afternoon before, and that was probably the reason for his absence, but we didn't let anything that obvious stop us from speculating.

Anyway, on with the mornings work, which had been organised by Brian. First we went to Cowlersley school to plant 75 trees along side a fence. It was a worthy project, but the site was littered and dog fouled, so it wasn't lovely to be there. We got it done and got away.

Cath and I made a quick trip back to Philip's house to see if he had surfaced. He hadn't, so we spent a short while looking at the house next door, which is for sale. Nice.

So then on to Worts hill. This was another worthy project, but had a nicer ambience. And on a day not shrouded in fog it is probably a picaresque spot. The landowner was extremely hospitable, providing tea, cake and whiskey, and even money for a post-planting round of drinks. Brian despaired of our skills when it came to planting a hawthorn hedge though, he had to follow us round doing remedial work. Our work was also picked over by some chickens, who appreciated us digging up all those worms for them.

A funny old morning, but in the end quite satisfactory. Not much to show in the way of photos, it was too foggy, just another shot of a vintage tractor and some stakes and guards.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Back to Butterley!

Ah, that's better! A fine morning of frost, sunshine and 150 trees planted.

We went back to the far side of Butterley Reservoir again, for the last time this season, to finish planting. It wasn't raining, the wind wasn't blowing, and the sun was shining at least part of the time. We got plenty done and felt pretty satisfied. The trees planted were a mixture of oak and alder, with some Hawthorn which were planted in two groups.

This weeks cake was seasonal, home made Mince Pies, and they were lovely. Dave was particularly struck by the pastry. But Dave won't be getting cakes in future, if he insists on playing music through his tinny mobile phone while working!!!

A good morning Where you Cath and Heidi? We missed you!

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Far Owlers

A new site this morning, at the very top end of the Colne Valley, planting up a couple of fields on unused farmland. We were planting bare-rooted trees also. Usually we plant trees which have a small root ball and soil, and we protect those small trees with a stake and a guard. Todays trees were bigger than usual, and were planted with no stakes and guards. Its much quicker planting and the trees are much cheaper to buy - there has been some debate as to whether this is the future. It is fine if the trees are planted on land where they will be safe from grazing animals, but where there is any chance of nibbling then stakes and guards at least let the trees get established. The weather was poor, but maybe not quite as bad as the weather forecast made out. Driving sleety rain all morning, but it didn't become torrential. This morning's cakes were Raspberry buns, but to be honest it was too cold and wet to really enjoy them. Last year we were blessed with a load of sunny saturdays, this year its been pretty poor so far. And here's a picture of me, looking cold and wet. Today we were also joined by a small group of local young people, Enviroyouth, who helped with the planting. While we were planting, part of the field was being fenced off to protect the trees from grazing, the last picture is of the fencing contractors tractor.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Holme Bank Wood and Butterley, again.

A very productive morning. We returned first of all to Holme Bank Wood, which we have grown to dislike because of its steepness and rockiness. This morning, though, we finished there for this year, planting around 60 more trees in amongst the established Birch. The site is in the photo, above our cars parked on the Butterley reservoir track. The weather was variable, but had its good moments. When we'd finished at Holme Bank Wood we had our break, including a very nice sticky ginger cake, and then took another 45 trees over to the far side of Butterley Reservoir. These were Mountain Ash, and we planted them further up the slopes, in clumps, where the Bracken ends and the moor grass begins. Picture below is of David, Dave and Cath, gazing heroically into the distance... or looking at a van on the other side of the valley.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Holme Bank Wood

For a bit of variety this week we were planting on the other side of Butterley reservoir, at Holme Bank Wood. The weather was appalling, cold and windy, with drifting rain and low cloud. The site was also challenging, being steep and very, very, rocky. We have planted here before, so had some idea what to expect, but it is still dispiriting to spend 10 minutes digging a hole and only have a pile or rocks to show for it. Birch thrive on this hillside, and are even self-seeding from established trees. Today we were planting some Hazel and Oak amongst those Birch, on the upper slopes of the wood. As I say, the weather was truly awful, but somehow it wasn't as bad a morning as it might of been, the good company helps. I'd estimate we planted 60 trees (but I'm prepared to alter that estimate if anyone thinks different). Thankyou to Geoff for promptly emailing me his mobile phone photos. My camera stayed at home today because of the weather. This week's home made cake was oaty biscuits. Oh, and I broke my flask, that 'll teach me to take a cheapo thermos along instead of my stainless steel one. As a memo to myself, we did leave approx 60 trees on site, including about 30 Hawthorn. Photos are of Philip, Dave, and Cath (with me in my yellow jacket just in shot).

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Return to Butterley

So, yesterday was the second saturday of the season, and we returned to our Butterley reservoir site to continue planting. The weather was better, we even managed to have our tea break in the sunshine. We were again planting next to the old conifer plantation. We started planting this site last year, and we had intended to blend our planting with the conifers by planting some Scots Pine amongst our usual trees. Sadly the ground has proved too wet for quite a few of our little Scots pine and they have died off. So we have replaced the dead ones with more Alder. On the drier parts of the site we have planted Oak, and some Mountain Ash. As we get further away from the conifer plantation we will also plant some Rowan. We try to plant in the grassier parts of the hillside, avoiding the beds of Heather, Bilberry, and Bracken where we can, since these give vital food and shelter to local birdlife like the Twite. We got quite a lot done, considering the steepness and wetness of the site. Our homemade cake today was Bakewell tart. The day was also notable for Dave having a new flask. Geoff was very impressed, as you can see from the photo.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

This season's first day of planting

Today was the first day of our 2007/2008 season of planting trees in the Colne Valley. My name is Simon, and I'm the secretary of the Colne Valley Tree Society. We are a registered charity, set up in 1965, which aims to re-plant native trees in the landscape to the west of Huddersfield. We meet each saturday morning throughout the winter. We meet at a nursery in Linthwaite at around 9.30. This first picture is of Philip (our chairman) selecting trees for the mornings planting. Geoff had sorted and labelled the trees last week, but had marked them up with water soluble felt pen. The rain washed off the names of sites!

Having loaded up the cars and a trailer with 400 trees, stakes and guards we set off for our first site of the season, the far side of Butterly Reservoir. This is Yorkshire Water owned land, and we are planting there with their full permission, and with advice and guidance from English Nature. The first chore of the day was carrying all of the trees, stakes, guards and tools from the cars over to the far side of the reservoir. The weather wasn't fabulous, but we all wear appropriate clothes and are prepared to get wet and muddy.

This next pic is of Philip, Cath and Geoff busy planting. This is very wet patch, so we are planting predominantly alder here, which should flourish in the damp ground. As you can see we are planting in amidst bracken, and one of our summer jobs is to come back and cut bracken around the trees so that they can get light and get established. In the background you can see the reservoir and in the far distance, Marsden. You can see that volunteers wear a fetching ensemble of old walking clothes, army surplus and interesting hats.
We didn't get a huge amount of planting done this morning. Taking the kit to the site took quite a lot of time, the site was steep and wet, and we needed to make several promotional video films for Geoff to put on the society's Facebook site. This was fun, but we really should have worked harder.

Last pic is of an alder tree being planted. We buy all our trees, and funding comes from a variety of sources. There was much debate this year as to whether we should be planting "root trainer" or "bare rooted" trees. This particular tree is a "root trainer" grown with a small long root ball. Later in the season we are going to experiment with "bare rooted" which may be cheaper to buy and easier to plant (according to some members of the society).

Oh, and the most important thing, this weeks homemade cake for breaktime was coffee and walnut cake, made by my mother.