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.