Author: Justine

BTfL Planted it’s 100,000th Tree – A Legacy That Will Just Keep Growing

Well we have been looking forward to this moment for weeks, months, even years! But 16-years-ago when BTfL planted its first tree who could’ve ever imagined that the small project working just five months a year every two weeks and only in term time could achieve so much, plant so many trees, work with over 7000 children  6800 adult volunteers at 325 tree plantings in so many parks and open green spaces across the city of Birmingham – well BTFL did of course!

As the years passed by and one milestone of 50,000, passed and then another and another we were always working to that magic number of 100,000 trees.

Our 100,000th tree celebration event took place in Cannon Hill Park, one of the most popular and best loved parks by Brummies, and brimming with beautiful trees – BTfL just added five more.

We celebrated with our partners, Birmingham Civic Society  and Birmingham City Council. Distingusied guests included, the Lord Mayor’s Deputy’s Deputy, Councillor Mike Leddy. Councillor Wassen Zaffar, the Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment at Birmingham City Council, Councillor John O Shea, Cabinet Member for Street Scene and Parks and Katharine Merry, Olympic 400m medallist and former World No.1 and Deputy Leiutenant for the West Midlands, representing Lord Leiutenant John Crabtree.

Friends of BTfL, all the people that have supported us and helped get us to this auspicious point in the BTfL Project. All the wonderful guests helped us plant the first four trees by picking one of four tree photos out of a bag which deisgnated people into four groups. Then Geoff Cole,  Sue Griffith, Viv Astling and Simon Needle, as well as Steve Hinton, led our four groups to their designated tree for planting. The first four trees planted were Corylus allevana Contorta – Twisted Hazel, led by Steve Hinton, Catalapa bignonioides – Indian Bean Tree, led by Viv Astling, Arbetus unendo – Strawberry Tree, led by Sue Griffith and Zelkova serrata Green Vase – Related to the Elm, led by Simon Needle.

 

Everyone managed to help plant the tree, by shovelling in the soil, and bedding down the trees one by one. But please remember that all the trees we have plnted this year are also planted and gifted to the Queen as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

For our fifth and final 100,000th tree, Cercidiphyllum japonicum – Katsura / Candy floss tree we all came together with Geoff  Cole leading the way and planting with the Lord Mayor’s Deputy’s Deputy, Councillor Mike Leddy. Not ony did we plant the tree, we also buried our BTfL time capsule, full of BTfL memories, including poetry, photographs, our merchandise, a letter outling our legacy and a letter to the future, writing how much we hope trees will figure hugely in the future whenever our time capsule is found and opened.

As we all took a moment to think together around the tree, it was moment of pride for all the members of the BTfL team passed and present to enjoy knowing that we have made our city much cleaner and much greener  filling it with beautiful trees and woodlands for every single one of us to enjoy.

As always with BTfL whenever we plant trees there is lots of chatter and Communitea! The only thing missing was the tea!

As we asked all our guests to join us for afternoon tea in the Foyle’s Room at the MAC, it was time for some speeches and some thankyou’s with three short films made, we hope in some way to sum out the BTfL Project and share a bit of the magic we enjoy at every planting.

Our guests watched while eating the beautiful afternoon tea and enjoying the celebratory pamphlet we had provided for them. Not only that we asked guests ot write, a message, poem, memory, or story for us to remember each guest by on a green leaf tied with ribbon.

 

Here are some of the messages –

BTfL, what a fantastic legacy, a tough act to follow and I hope 100,000th tree is just the start…, The best time to plant a tree was 20-years ago, the second best time to plnt a tree is now…., To the future, for our children and our chilren’s children…., Plant as many trees as you can evey year, save the planet, it is in your own hands….     

Speeches were led by Lord Mayor’s Deputy’s Deputy, Councillor Mike Leddy,  Cllr John O’ Shea, our Chairman Geoff Cole, who talked affectionately about the history of thr BTfL project, Deborah Needle and Justine Marklew, celebrting the 1000’s of children and adult volunteers who have joined us over the years.

Then there was a poem by Birmingham Poet and Children’ author, Mandy Ross read out to our guests, which summed up the BTfL project beautifully.

Birmingham’s One Hundred Thousand Trees for Life    by Mandy Ross

Read to the beat of this traditional counting rhyme?
One, two, skip a few, ninety-nine, one hundred.

One, two,                   dig a few,
three, four,                 plant some more,
five, six,                      seven year olds,
dig and delve,          eleven, twelve,
teens, adults,            plant in memory,
plant a forest             in the city,

ninety-nine, ONE HUNDRED…
TWO hundred…
and one, two,            dig a few,
plant the roots,         heel them in.
Winter coats,             gloves and boots.
Earth is cold,             sap deep,
roots sleeping…      waiting, dreaming…

ninety nine… THREE hundred!

Spring waking,         sap rising,
buds bursting,          branches growing.
Winter, spring,          summer, autumn,
bare, budding,          leafing, losing,

ninety-nine, FOUR hundred.

Alder, elder,              ash, aspen,
apple, almond,         pear, plum,
pine, poplar,             beech, birch,

Ninety-nine, FIVE hundred!

Oak and rowan,                   whitebeam, willow,
hawthorn, blackthorn,         hazel, holly,
cherry blossom…                blossom blizzard,

ninety-nine, SIX hundred.

For colour, for fruit,             for roots, for seeds,
for squirrels and humans, birds and bees,
for workers, students,          citizens, voters,
for a million of us,                all-sorts-of-Brummies,
with roots in soil                   near and far,
old and young                      and in between,
for a jubilee canopy,           crowning a queen – in green…

ninety-nine…SEVEN hundred.

For breathing, for climbing, for walking among,
at dusk and dawn,               in sun and shade,
for hugging, for thinking,    for meeting and greeting,
for napping under,               for hiding and seeking,
for sports and picnics,         nests and perches,

ninety-nine, EIGHT hundred.

In Brum’s north, south, east and west,
in city spaces,           empty places,
playing fields            and park edges,
housing land,            nooks and crannies,
sunny slopes            and quiet corners,
green snickets,         tucked away
beside the river,       near the trains,

ninety-nine, NINE hundred,
a thousand,

ninety-nine thousand,
nine hundred and
ninety-six, ninety-seven, ninety-eight, ninety-nine…
planted here today, for life, for Birmingham,
one hundred thousand trees!

Then Viv Astling presented founder members of BTfL, Geoff Cole and Sue Griffith, beautiful hand carved wooden gifts as a reminder of and testament to their amazing achievements over 16-years.

 

Finally, Simon Needle, the super hero of the BTfL project looked to the future of BTfL, Birmingham Tree People. Trees and Tree policy in Birmingham.

So all in all a wonderful day in a room full of BTfL family and friends enjoying a very special moment together!

And as for the future you ask? Well the future’s green because for BTfL – it always has been!

Please view our album of photos for this event here

Thank you to Lord Mayor’s Deputy’s Deputy, Councillor Mike Leddy. Councillor Wassen Zaffar, the Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment at Birmingham City Council, Councillor John O Shea, Cabinet Member for Street Scene and Parks and Katharinbe Merry, Olympic 400m medallist and former World No.1, Amelia Ladbrooke our Master of Ceremonies, Steve Hinton, the Birmingham Civic Society, Birmingham City Council, everyone of our guests and Geoff Cole, Sue Griffith, Viv Astling, Simon Needle, Stevie Prior, Deborah Needle, Fiona Williams, Cannon Hill Ranger Service, The MAC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Friends and Family Event + 99995 Trees Planted = 99995 very special memories!

For 16-years we have planted trees and that’s 16 Friends and Family tree planting events, traditionally the last event of our season – and today’s Friends and Family planting event couldnt be more poignant! Not only does it bring us to a total of 99995 trees in the ground, but 99995  very special memories for each and every person that has ever joined us at a BTfL tree planting event and that is nearly 14,000. But it brings us to the end of another tree planting season where, common ground, a great cause, commitment and community is always the key to our success.

Today 68 people joined us, 14 of those were children of all ages, eager to dig some holes and plant some trees. There are many reasons people join us at our Friends and Family events. To remember a person that has passed on, to celebrate a birthday, an anniversary, a birth, to improve the environment, to off set their carbon footprint,   to be connect with nature or because of a total love of trees, or just because…

Today’s Friends and Family event is two years late, the pandemic, put a stop to any tree planting for 18-months. And while some people committed to the Friends and Family event 18-months ago, some may not have been able to make it today. So we just wanted to reassure any of you that couldnt make it today, that every tree planted today by BTfL, was dedicated to you and yours.

Here, our Chairman Geoff Cole explain why we are here today

We enjoy chatting to everyone at this event and understand why they are here.

Dan told us, ‘I’m 30 this year, it’s a big birthday and I wanted to plant 30 trees, I’m half way through and counting. It will be the World Cup Final 2022 on my actual birthday, so of course the second big win of the year after planting these trees would be to see England in the World Cup final!

There were two other specal birthdays too. Beryl had donated to  BTfL Friends and Family event for her friend Caroline to celebrate her 60th birthday, she’s now nealry 62! Then there was the son who had donated to BTfL for his Mom’s 70th birthday, that was also nearly two years ago and now she is 72, but when it comes to planting trees, there is never a wrong time and it’s never too late to plant them. Gillian was also planting in memory of her huband Stephen, and wanted her trees to be as close to the bluebells growing as possible.

We had a wonderful family of 20, planting memory of a husband, father, brother, uncle and a friend. Some of that family group had travelled for Switzerland and France to be with us today.

Sue, one of our dedicated BTfL committee members was here today as part of our team, but also to plant an oak tree and other sapling trees in memory of Ronnie Leckey, ther father of Sue’s friend Eve who sadly died late last year. Sue says; “Just before Christmas I was able to send emails to Ronnie’s children and grandchildren – five families living around the world, including BTfL cetificates thanking them for thir generous donation towards the planting today.  They thought it was a great Christmas present and a great way to remember Ronnie who loved trees and woods. Although none of the families could be here today I have sent videos and photographs of the young trees we planted on their behalf, with the location of the woods using (What3Words) so that they can one day come and vist the new woodland we all created today.’

Ruben, (two) and Orla, (four) were planting in memory of ther Nan, Joy. Even aged two Ruben was determind to plant some trees and then some more trees.

The Green S Welfare team join us at a lots of our plantings and over 20 of their amazing team helped us plant trees today. And at very planting they bring an amazing energy and enthusiasm that always pops and fizzes at our tree plantings with a refreshing evervescence!

 

Today we can add another 1500 trees to the Queens Green Canopy Map  where every tree planted this year is gifted to the Queen to celebrate her Plantinum Jubilee. Today we had Heidi Doughty join us, Deputy Leiutenant for the West Midlands, representing Lord Leiutenant John Crabtree, along with her husband, Profesor Jim Storr. Here standing with Viv Astling, our dedicated BTfL committee member.

Today Heidi gave a talk to all our Friends and Family volunteers explaing the importance of the Queen’s Green Canopy in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year.

Jess and Jay have joined us before as volunteers at one of our school plantings and enjoyed themselves so much, they wanted to come back, but this time they brought their daughter Laura, (10). Who enjoyed planting trees, but also enjoyed the wildife at the Lickey Hills, espcially the birdlife and while we were planting Laura was lucky enough hear a Jay in the trees, warning us all below their birdseye view away from their territory.

So its always with a smile, with joy, satisfaction, celebration and with a heavy heart we wave a fond farwell to Birmingham Tree’s for Life community tree planting season 2021/2022.

Only five more trees to plant until we reach our 100,000th tree! This will be  ceremonial planting a celebratory planting and we hope it will go some way to remember, every tree, every smile, every spade in the ground, every volunteer, every school and ear splitting scream of TREES that always punctuates the end of every planting. Because every time we scream trees we hope the world is listneing and will follow in our footsteps of – more trees please!

   

   

Please view the photo album for this event here

Thank you to everyone who attended our Friends and Family Tree Planting today, all the volunteers, Steve Hinton, Simon Needle, Geoff Cole, Sue Griffith, Viv Astling, Stevie Prior, Heidi Doughty, Ian Storr and last but not least, Debbie Needle, our Project Manager who without her hard work, determination, persistence, resilience and ability to cope in a crisis with a huge smile – none of this amazing tree planting season would’ve happened.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh My Blog – Joe Lycett Came Tree Planting With Willow The Dog!

Well, there were mixed feelings for the tree planting at Kings Heath Park today. It was a our last planting of the season with a school and my what a school! Planting 700 trees today means we are at a total of 98495  so far with two more plantings to go until we reach the magic 100,000!  The amazing ladies from the South Birmingham Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Group joined us and smashed their own target of planting 2000 trees for their centernary celebrations, well done! Local Councillor Mike Leddy joined us and was quick to grab a spade and some trees and dig deep. Last, but certainly not least, Joe Lycett, comedian extrodinaire also came and planted some trees with us too! Not only Joe, but his fantastic friend and Adam and Adam’s dog Willow!

Today we saw 11-pupils from Colmore Junior School , the dedicated allotment team working their proverbial socks off planting at the edges of Kings Heath Park. These students were professionals and knew isntinctivley how to plant trees, as they had already planted lots of fruit trees and hedging in their school allotment. Eager to get stuck in students were quickly pitting their wits against each other and although it was a very chilled our occasion, we could sesne the competition brewing stronger by the minute. In particular two students were competing for most trees planted. More of that later.

Twenty volunteers from South Birmingham Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Group brought their usual amazing gumption and gusto – bringing with them their bright smiles and lovely positivity as always – as well as refreshments, which we all were very grateful for, again on a very warm March morning planting trees can be thirsty work.

 

When Joe Lycett, Adam and Willow arrived we were so happy to see them. After a quick spade talk on how to plant whips and sapling trees Joe and Adam grabbed spades and planted Hazel, Oak, Field Maple, Alder and Crab Apple with help from the lovely Willow.

And just for a little while BTfL were able to take charge of Willow while Joe and Adam were busy planting. We love nothing more than a lovely dog at our tree plantings and having the opportunity to take Willow for a quick walk was an added bonus – not to mention how we always love to put a dog in our blog!

Joe and Adam planted lots of trees today and we really hope they enjoyed themselves – we’re pretty sure they did.

But what’s not to love. We’ve never known anyone ever leave our tree plantings without a smile a sense of achievement and a feeling of wellbeing. It’s always lovely to know that local people in their local area become part of the BTfL tree planting legacy. And anyone local to the beautiful Kings Heath Park will be delighted to know that super Celeb, and Super Brummie Celeb, Joe Lycett has planted some of these trees and is now part of that legacy, well if we werent proud enough already……

We’d like to say a special thanks to Joe for joining us because we know he must be super busy and because we were all very excited to see him we all asked for a photo. Joe was very accommodating and very kind and we are very grateful for that. As we are sure Joe must get asked to pose for a photograph, we as many times as we have planted a tree. (that’s 98495 times by the way!)

Before they left Joe thanked us for inviting him and told us he loves what BTfL are doing and enjoyed planting trees with us. Thank you Joe, but the pleasure is all ours!

As much as we love the serious business of tree planting we also love a wellie win! A wellie win you ask! Well over 16-years we have seen such an array of glamorous and fashionable wellies and boots, we alway get shoe envy! Todays wellie winner was the silver sparkly ones, (you know who you are) that glinted in the sunshine like Cinderella’s glass slippers!

One lady walking in the park, Anisa with her beautiful 18-month-old son Qais asked what we were doing. Of course we invited Anisa and Qais to plant some trees with us, And we are very proud to say that BTfL helped Qais plant his very first tree – we hope it’s not his last!

As the students were coming to the end of the planting realising that they had planted 700 trees today, they were suitably impressed with themselves – and of course so were we.

‘My Mom amd Dad wont believe it, 700  trees is a lot…., can’t we plant anymore.?…, I cant wait to get home and tell my Mom…., I’m bringing my baby brother here tomorrow to show him my trees…

Always lovely to hear and in the final furlong our two most competitive students had planted 35 trees each, desperate to out do each other they both scoured the area for any remaining trees to plant! While one student found two trees, his competitor found none as all but two of our 700 trees had been planted. Now it couldve been a fair and square win of 37 to 35. But our BTfL tree plantings aren’t like that and as as one student handed a tree to his friendly competitor, they agreed to draw on 36 all. Now if that’s not feeling the love we dont know what is!

So, it’s like we always say, connecting with nature, planting trees, improving the environment and the view, feeling the positivity that all this brings is a real treat.

So we say, more trees please!

More communitea!

More children  and adults invested in nature.

More whips, saplings, standards and feathers.

And of course more Joe Lycett!

Please view photos from our tree planting today, here

A huge thank you to everyone that joined us today, Joe Lycett, Adam and Willow the dog, Colmore Junior School, staff and students, South Birmingham Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Group,  Cllr Mike Leddy, Anisa and Qais, Simon Needle, Geoff Cole, Viv Astling, Alf Dimmock and Leon from the Wodland team.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dig, Dig, Wiggle, Wiggle, Stomp, Stomp was the Order of the Day Today!

Today we planted 1500 native British trees at Batchelors Farm Park, next to the River Cole, with volunteers from Dawat-e-Islami, 26 children from Alston Primary School, five teaching staff, six home schooled children, Councillor Waseem Zaffar is the Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment at Birmingham City Council, Deputy Lieutenant to the Queen Heidi Doughty along with her husband Jim  as well as the BTfL team.

A large team for a large job.

Our wonderful volunteers from Dawat-e-Islami, plant trees across continents and have 70 groups spread across the globe and the charity has recently completed planting one million tree around the world. This brilliant team started our planting off, with the wonderful company of Councillor Waseem Zaffar.

Then our school children arrived, a group full of energy, eager to get going and each with a wide smile as we handed them a spade. Not only did their group include children from the schools Green Team,  but their UNICEF Ambassador, group leaders and children that had done something deserving of a trip out of school to plant some trees.

As the BTfL team carefully showed the children how to plant the whip and sapling trees, there was a slow chorus building of, ‘Dig, Dig, Wiggle, Wiggle, Stomp, Stomp!’ Now if you follow BTfL, you may or may not know we always encourage a stomp dance when our trees are in the ground.

Because dancing is good for body and mind, but this beautiful added morning chorus in the lovely sunshine was just wondeful to hear.

The children’s first collective gasp was, ‘1500 trees, how are we going to do that?

Well we replied, ‘with a dig, a wiggle and a stomp!’

The childrens second collective gasp was when they we introduced the children to Heidi Doughty, Deputy Lieutenant to the Queen.  Heidi explained to the children how eveyr tree planted today woudl be added to the QGC tree planting map and the Queen would be presented it with it at the culmination of her Platinum Jubilee year.

 

The children were very pleased and very proud to know that their  efforts would be recorded on an official map and the Queen woudl actually see it.

‘Do you know there are 70 bathrooms at Buckingham Palace, a cinema, a ballroom….’ The children told us. ‘We have been studying all about the Queen and where she lives.’

Then the childen darted off in different directions covering a very large semi-circular area planting their trees. The children as small as they were grabbed their spades with both hands and mustered up huge amounts of effort to dig deep and stomp again and again.

We were flabbergasted at their energy levels.

While our adult volunteerr zipped through 100, 200, 300….

Then there were our super home schooled children, all five of them didn’t stop to catch their breath as their whips were put in the ground in record time.

They were even going to write about their experience with BTfL once they got back into class.

For the middle of March we did not anticipate how much sunshine we would be blessed with, but working in the sunshine is thirty work, one of the Dawat-e-Islami team suddenly appeared with bottles of water. It was very welcome as we had all been working so hard we had built up a mighty thirst. And with that came a cheers to trees when of course we all clinked our bottle to celebrate more trees, cleaner air, a greener space and a prettier park!

After resting, refueling and recharging, the groups were stright back digging holes, working in threes and fours.

‘We love digging, we love planting these trees, and we love this park.’ The children explained.

When faced with a small twig, with no buds on it and no leaves, one of th children asked our Woodland Team, ‘what’s this tree called?’

After studying hard, he said, ‘give me a minute, let me think.’

One pupil insisted, ‘c’mon try again, keep trying.’ with an expectant look.

‘Hazel, it’s Hazel,’ he quickly replied.

With smile she skipped off to plant her Hazel tree, and we were safe in the knowledge that she would share her findings with her fellow pupils.

And before we  had chance to take another breath we had no more trees left to plant!

So with our celebratory group shot and another beautiful ear-splitting chorus of, ‘what do we love? – TREES! ‘

It was time for the children to get back to school to eat some well derserved lunch.

The teaching staff form Alston School told us how much fun and how much the children had enjoyed their morning, that is always music to our ears and with a collective wave, we said goodby and watched the children walk off into the distance, all the time chattering trees!

 

It was also a huge thak you to our adult volunteers and the home schooled children, their hard work made our morning. And as we said our goodbyes we  decided that next season we would hopefully meet again  to do it all over again.

And if people want to come back again and again we consider that a successful outcome.

And the secret to that success – well you all know by now – TREES, TREES AND MORE TREES!

A huge thank you to Syed Fuzail Attari and his Dawat-e-Islami Midlands team, Alston Primary School, children and staff, our home schoolers, Deputy Lieutenant to the Queen Heidi Doughty and her husband Jim, Cllr Waseem Zaffar, The Woodland Team, Jim and Ron and our BtfL chairman Geoff Cole.

Please view the photos of the day here 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

96,295 trees planted as of today – the countdown has begun to our 100,000 tree!

Phew! That’s a big number and growing bigger by the day. And today was a beauiful day, with the sun shining and happy crowd of 30-students from King Edward IV Northfield School for Girls years seven and eight, two teachers, four amazing volunteers from HSBC, great supporters of BTfL, local Councillor, Debbie Clancy, a local resident Rex, Chief Ranger Steve Hinton.

Well if that’s not a crowd to be reckoned with, well we dont know what is.

It was such a lovely day the students and teachers  chose to walk to the site at Cofton Park 10,000 steps, they all eagerly told us.

It was a good start at their bit at saving the planet, walking, not driving.  And as we showcased our 700 sapling trees to plant they quickly rose to the the challenge of doing a little bit more, grabbing spades, grabbing trees and digging.  Firstly filling in gap in hedges that bordered the one of only two model aircraft flying fields in Birmingham. Planting Hazel and Hawthorne in the borders, amongst trees BTfL had planted five years previously, in the distance was a small woodland that BTfL had planted six years previously, way beyond in the distance were more fruit trees BTfL had planted in 2010.

Many of the trees planted today have been planted amongst that  trees planted six years ago by BTfL. So today was a way of celebrating those moment and those trees that are all thriving. It was good to show the students what their trees will look like in five years time.

   

They were very impressed.

As we enjoyed the weather and the company we saw a local resident exercising in the park. We couldn’t help but wonder if he wanted to mix up his exercise routine a little bit today.

   

As we offered the lovely Rex a spade he grabbed it with both hands, ‘I’d love to plant some trees with you, ‘he explained.

We explain that planting a tree/trees should be on everyone’s bucket list. And if you dont have believe in bucket lists, well plant a tree anyway, it always feels good to do it!

Like the ancient proverb goes, ‘the best time to plant a tree was 20-years ago, the second best time to plant a tree is now.’

Rex really did put his spade to great use, planting so many trees. He explained that sometimes when things don’t go to plan, it really can be a lovely thing. He was very happy to tell us that each day he comes to do his exercises at Cofton Park he can look at his trees and watch them grow. ‘Who knows what they will look like in five years time? Said Rex. ‘But I will certinly be here to check them out.’

We’re glad to hear it Rex.

And huge thanks to Cllr Debbie Clancy who came to plant trees with us, even with a knee injury and despite her discomfort told us she’d had a lovely morning with us, enjoy the sunshine, the trees and a dynamic community team effort morning.

It was a huge space we were covering and the groups split into four smaller groups, and seemed littel dots in the distance as we delivered more trees for the volunteers to plant – it was hard to keep up with them.

As always the students kept an individual tally, 20, so far, 25…, 30…, 48…, lets get to 60. ‘We’ve called this one ‘Gregory,’ said the girls.

At BTfL we always like to hear the reason for the tree names.

 

Well, he’s the main protagonist in, ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid.’ Well if we werent pleased enough to know students were naming their trees, it was a double treat to know they were naming their trees after characters in books they felt inspired by.

Our HSBC volunteers, certainly put the work in too as they always do. This amazing team has been planting with us for some years now, and it’s always an amazing pleasure to work with them. Today was a good day to re-connect and make up for the lost 18-months in the great outdoors.  We all agreed that being outside in th sunshine and in wide open green spaces doing something positive is great for the mind, body and soul. Getting lost in the moment and immersing ourselves in nature – well there is nothing quite like it.

‘I was just really getting into this tree planting and now we have to stop because we have planted them all! ‘

It was almost as if our volunteers could’ve stayed here all day.

 

And of course the 700 tees we planted today dont just add to our 100,000th countdown, they will also be plotted on the Queens Green Canopy Tree Planting map to celebrate her Majesty’s platinum Jubilee.

Whenever we tell the students and volunteers this their is a short intake of breath, knowing that their trees, their planting event will forever be recorded on the QGC map, a little bit of  majesty for them to take home with them.

And as we asked our students, ‘well is this a better morning than doing trigonometry or english comprehension…? The resounding  response was, ‘Oh Yes!’

And as we ended our lovely morning tree planting we asked, ‘what ruled today?’

And as always came the  answer with ear splitting screams ‘Trees!’

We love it whena plan comes together!

A huge thank you today to King Edward VI Northfield School for Girls, students and teachers,  our HSBC volunteers, Cllr Debbie Clancy, Rex, the Woodland team today, namely (Ron), Ranger Steve Hinton, Geoof Cole and Viv Astling

Please view our photo album of this planting here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birmingham Becomes A Queen’s Green Canopy City – We Planted 1001 Trees to Celebrate!

At BTfL planting trees is our life’s work and we enjoy every single minute of it. The events are always exciting, it’s always joyful work, a great place to connect, laugh together, dig deep together and enjoy and celebrate everyone that joins us – today was no exception.

As great mornings go, well celebrated Birmingham becoming a Queens Green Canopy City with a ceremonial tree planting with the Birmingham Lord Mayor’s Deputy, Cllr Mike Sharpe, Cllr John O’Shea, Hayley Caruthers who is a Team England Athlete competing in the Common Wealth Games Marathon event. A beautiful QGC plaque was presented to the Deputy Lord Mayor – a very proud moment for Birmingham City Council and the city’s tree planting legacy.

   

 

We were joined by great supporters of Birmingham Trees for Life, including the Woodland Trust and 13 volunteers from the amazing Green S Welfare Group who come to join us to plant trees from all over the country, several times a year and are an absolute joy to work with. With them came BTfL’s youngest tree planter, eight-month-old Iknoor, followed closely by Talin, (two) and Sajda, (seven).

A BTfL first today!

   

The Woodland Trust brought 24 volunteers from Lloyds. Members of the same team who hadn’t seen each other properly since the pandemic, so while the trees were planted there was also lots of chatter and catching up to do.

Then came what can only be described as 30 bionic children from Yenton Primary School. Full of energy and enthusiasm and itching to get some trees in the ground. Once again the prospect of us planting 1000 trees in a couple of hours or even less, left their jaws dropping. When we saw how fast and furiously they planted the trees – it left our jaws dropping.

‘What trees are we planting today? We like the ones with the red roots!’ That’s Dog Wood,’ we replied, ‘more of a shrub than a tree, but just as good for the wildlife and the environment, along with Crab Apple, Rowan, Oak, Hazel and Hawthorne.’

  

   

When one pupil spotted, an acorn hanging off the end of his tree, he was so excited.

‘This tree is going to grow into a big oak tree, isn’t it!’

‘Yes, all thanks to you.’ We replied.

We explained that the second-best tree planters in the country after Yenton Primary School of course, are squirrels.

‘Why because they gather acorns, bury them for a late snack, forget where they buried them and then the tree grows…?’

‘Yes,’ we replied. As one student retorted, ‘well good for us and the planet that squirrels have bad memories, else we would have half the oak trees we do now.

He’s completely right of course.

And it proves that while nature always works for us, the human race has some lessons to learn to stop working against it – so say the squirrels, Yenton Primary School and BTfL of course.

  As the groups spread out across Pype Hayes Park, there was a hive of activity of planting, digging, stomping, chattering, there was a production line of children collecting spades and trees, then more trees and more trees.

And while there was so much going on it left the amazing Woodland Team – the absolute nuts and bolts of the BTfL project finding it challenging to hand out trees fast enough.

We always say if only we cold bottle the excitement and energy that we see again and again with the school children and volunteers who plant trees with us!

While our dedicated committee members Geoff, Sue and Viv, rallied around the groups helping them plant the trees, talking to them about trees, all of us enjoying every minute at this planting event.

So this morning was a morning filled with energy, smiles, positivity, a collective challenge to clean up and green up the area with 1001 oxygen making, carbon dioxide zapping trees,  a strong sense of what community really means and when community really matters! Everyone became emotionally invested in trees -as if they weren’t already. A morning that everyone who joined us will go home and share with their friends and family this evening and tomorrow. A place everyone may revisit some time sooner – or later and point out the trees and claim proudly, ‘here are my trees!’ So a job well done – again.

And lets not forget a morning where our wellbeing was thoroughly worked on, as well left Pype Hayes Park feeling happier, healthier, more energised, revitalised and very proud.

See trees –  they never cease to amaze us more and more with each new day and for BTfL that’s a whopping 5478.633 days so far!

Please view the photograph album for todays event here 

A huge thank you to QGC, Birmingham City Council Cllr O’ Shea, The Deputy to the Lord Mayor, Hayley Caruthers, pupils and staff from Yenton Primary School, Green S Welfare, The Woodland Trust, Lloyds, Simon Needle, Geoff Cole , Sue Griffiths and Viv Astling from the BTfL committee, The Woodland Team and any of the public that took an interest  in what we were doing today.

Being Kind Is The Key – To Our Environment!

Well today we planted 500 whips at Dawberry Fields Park with local school Woodthorpe Junior And Infant School. 13 pupils  from years one to five who were all wearing an impressive and colourful array of boots and wellies came with kindness as their cause.

We also welcomed  the Green Team back into the BTfL fold. And 12 wonderful volunteers from the Green team at  Deutsche Bank came to help us plant the trees. We hadn’t seen them for two years and it was lovely to re-connect, enjoy the beautiful sunshine together and green up the local area. Quite a special year for both of us, and while we are getting ever nearer to our 100,000th tree planted in March, the Green team are also enjoying their the ten year anniversary, so lots to celebrate!

Once again as part of the QGC celebrations every tree planted is part of the Queens Platinum Jubilee we had the local Deputy Lieutenant join us, Elizabeth Foster, Deputy Lieutenant who made history by being the first female DL to have a uniform to perform the duties in. Elizabeth explained to the children that the Queen didn’t  want gifts for her platinum jubilee, but for anyone who can – to plant tree. Well we gifted 500 to the Queen today as well as to the local area, local wildlife, local people and local air supply! So its a win win!

The children dug deep and plotted the trees in the five large circles outlined for them to plant in, native trees, at least three feet apart, there was lots measuring the area in the super cool wellies and carefully planting the trees to ensure they at comfortably and securely in the ground.

  

This half-term pupils have been adopting kindness to everything and everyone. Today, of course it was their local park’s turn to enjoy some of the kindness. As the headteacher explained, kindness is something we enocourage all the time,  but not just to people to our world too. By being more sustainable, learning how to care more for our environment and what bette way to do this than to plant some trees today – together!

All of the children are local to the area and  regularly enjoy their lovely green space, Dawberry Fields. They were so happy to be planting the trees today and were so happy to tell everyone when they got home and they were asked by their parents what did you do today, maths…, english…, they could reply we planted lots  and lots of trees!

    

Most of the children use the park and were eager to bring their parents to the park to show them where they trees had been planted and eager to visit and watch them grow over the years.

As Deutsche Bank and the children worked in great teams of threes and fours, student Willow working with Tim from the Green Team seemed to be gelling really well – ‘we are dad and daughter,’ Tim explained.   I only realised today that I would be planting trees with my daughter – so it’s really lovely. It was a wonderful coincidence. Tim and Willow promised to come back and look out for their trees when they regularly visit the park.

Finding an acorn on one of the trees sign planted one student was very excited and this led to a discussion about how squirrels are the best tree planters on the planet, burying their acorns and forgetting where they are leaving the acorns to grow into,  you guessed it – mighty oaks.                                       The discussion moved on to how boats used to be made of oak and how Henry VIII’s fleet of ships were all made of oak.  Then how Shackleton’s ship Endurance which had sunk in January 1915 in Antarctica has now been discovered and almost perfectly preserved under the sea, and why because it is made of oak!

While we were discussing trees and history a few local residents walking their dogs and babies in the park asked us what we were were doing. After BTfL explained all locale residents were very happy to have more trees in their park. A we understand it the message about the importance of trees is spreading even wider and even stronger with every new day.

   

And talking of Dogs we had a special guest at our planting today, Darwin, a 15-year-old Collie belonging to Simon and Debbie Needle. Darwin brought a smile to all our faces and was exceptionally behaved.

 

And after a lovely morning, we all feel a bit kinder, a bit calmer, a bit prouder, a bit more connected –  and of course all those wonderful boots were a bit muddier – all signs of a great tree planting!

We would like to say a huge thank you to pupils and staff from Woodthorpe Junior and Infant School, the amazing Green Team from Deutsche Bank, Deputy Lieutenant, Liz Foster, Simon Needle, Geoff Cole and Stevie Prior and Leon from the Woodland Team.

Please view the photos from this planting here

 

 

Lots of Sunshine, Trees, Smiles, Eco Warriors, Enthusiasm and Community – So Lots to Love Today

Well it was a full house today! We had 750 trees to plant at Highfield Farm Rec and we had 13 eco warriors from Quinton Church Primary School, four lovely teachers, 12 volunteers from, Ian Williamson and Midland Heart , as well as a team of 15 from Birmingham’s Homeless and Modern Day Slavery Trafficking Services, local councillor Kate Booth and Deputy  Lieutenant to the Queen, Dame Christine Braddock. The only question was did we have enough spades? Why of course we did, BTfL never fails to help anyone wanting to plant a tree to grab a spade and just start digging – it’s part of our DNA!

One of our volunteers, looked worried, ‘we haven’t brought our own spatula’s, will you have enough!’

With a puzzled look we reminded this lovely young man we didn’t have any spatula’s, we only had spades! With collective giggles we were told by the group that he wasn’t familiar with the names of garden tools  and the was no gardener – or even chef by the sounds it!

When the children marched to the site in their wellies we knew they meant business. Asking them how many trees they might want to guess we had planted in 15 years guesses ranged from 15 trillion (we wish) to 100, 2000, 10 million, (we wish). When we told students that this month we would be reaching a whopping 100,000 trees in the ground their was a collective gasp and excitement at the thought of being part of building up to that huge number.

The evidence of our past effort was clear to see at the end of the Highfield Rec  where there stood a small woodland of trees that had been planted ten years previously. Looking healthy, and loved and about ready to burst into leaf in a few weeks time.

‘More trees please, more trees please,’ came the requests from the children. The dedicated BTfL team were happy to distribute the trees and it was hard to keep up with the pace. One young man Levanta, worked tirelessly and after handing him seven trees to plant, we thought it would keep him busy, but five minutes later Lavento want more trees – he had planted them in record time. When the children and volunteers had arrived on site they couldn’t believe we could plant 750 native British trees in two hours- but we did it in less time than that.

And if we all put that into perspective – a mature leafy tree produces as much oxygen in a season as 10 people inhale in a year. We did the maths at Highfield Farm Rec and so in a few years time these trees will be providing oxygen for 7500 people on average.

A single mature tree can absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of 48 pounds per year, we did the maths at Highfield Farm Rec and so in a few years time these trees will be absorbing up to 36,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per year!

And I’m sure when we think of it like that, it’s a legacy we are all very proud to be part of!

 

A huge thank you to Quinton Church Primary School, Birmingham’s Homeless and Modern Day Slavery and Trafficking Services, Ian Williamson, Midland Heart, Dame Christine Braddock Deputy Lieutenant to the Queen, Councillor Kate Booth, Jim and Leon from the  Woodland Team, Geoff Cole, Sue Griffiths,  Viv and Hazel Astling and Stevie Prior all proving when you pull together as a team great things happen – Happy Tuesday everyone!

Please view the photograph album of todays event here 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Trees – No Hope! More Trees – New Hope!

Well it was muddy, rainy, it was cold to the bone, but as seasoned tree lovers and tree huggers BTfL were happy to be out in the great outdoors planting trees – lucky for us so was Forestdale Primary School. What greeted us at Hollymoor Park, Rubery was a long line of 22 smiley faces from year one to six, two home schooling pupils, our wonderful corporate volunteer, Jennine from Adecco Group UK & Ireland and Penny from Hollymoor Park Friends group.

The teacher from Forestdale Primary Forest school told us just how excited the children had been at the thought of planting trees with us. And in an age of fast paced technology, where children invest much of their time, we were so happy that the simple and beautiful task of planting trees still get children excited.

As we asked the children what they knew about trees, a shower of hands shot up, all wanting to share their knowledge. Wildlife, Oxygen, paper, carbon dioxide, wellbeing, the environment, shade, beauty,.…

 

All completely correct of course. One young student announced, ‘If we have no trees we have no hope, but if we plant more trees, it gives us new hope.’ It was a very poignant statement and she is absolute correct and we hadn’t even dug a spade in the ground yet.

 

We could see these wonderful students were itching to get started, bunching into groups of two’s and three’s they were soon scooping up the soil and bedding in the Liquid Amber and Gingko Biloba, ‘this the tree that outlived the dinosaurs,’ our chairman Geoff explained to two very captivated children.

“You mean it’s 75-million- years-old?’ asked one pupil.

‘Not this tree, but the species of tree for sure.’

There was a gasp and a collective ‘wow!’

   

The students were completely invested in the tree planting, but as soon as children at tree planting start to name their trees, we know they are emotionally invested too.

What more could we ask for from the children or for the newly named trees, called Stuart, Trevor, Rosie, Leafy, Dino and Treewee, Nathan, Max and more…

Two students undertook a best of three, rock, paper, scissors competition to get their name chosen for the tree. After fierce and intense few moments, the name Nathan won the day.

While two other students were determined that their tree looked and acted like a Rosie. ‘Girl Power,’ the students explained.

Yes, and super power – trees are a real super power.

We know the power of trees on our lives, but when you see the power they have on the younger generation – it’s quite spectacular.

Jennine, commented on what a calming and relaxing morning it was, doing something outside the realms of her normal working day. How much she had enjoyed working with the children, greening up the local area and seeing the smiles on the children’s faces.

A local resident, Dave came out for a chat as well and was very pleased to see ten new trees planted to replace a much older tree that had sadly been chopped down because it was diseased.

He explained that the local-residents had been so disappointed that their beloved tree had now gone, that they complained to the local tree officer about their disappointment.

‘So how did this happen, how did we get ten new trees here today?’ He asked.

‘Well you of course,’ explained Geoff.

After a bit of a frown, Dave understood that the story that had come full circle. From the disappointment of losing the beloved tree, to vocalising that disappointment, the local tree officer ensured that there would be some ten new beautiful trees to enjoy.

   

It’s the power of a collective voice!

And talking of collective voices when we asked the children to vocalise their excitement, they nearly blew our socks off with a collective chorus of ‘TREES!’

Smiles all round – again.

So, before we signed off, Debbie our Project Manager reminded everyone they were all tree champions. That we should all hope our trees good luck, that they grow up, grow well and branch out!

Great advice that applies not only to trees, but all of us. And like we always say, be like a tree. Stay grounded, connect with your roots, turn over a new leaf, bend before you break, enjoy and celebrate your unique natural beauty and keep growing…

We would like to say thank you to pupils and teachers from Forestdale Primary School, Dionne and her two home schooled children, Jennine, from Adecco UK & Ireland, Penny from the Friends Of Hollymoor Park, the Woodland Team, Geoff, our Chairman and Dave and his neighbours who all, excuse the pun rooted for some new trees and got them – wonderful morning team!

Please browse the photo album of today here

 

‘Wow – Planting These Trees for The Queen and for Birmingham is Cool…’

Our mantra at BTfL is any day is a good day to go tree planting, but when the sun is shining and it’s such a beautiful day and having 30 animated year five school children from Shirestone Academy, along with 18 wonderful volunteers from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s association as well as, Deputy Lieutenant for the Queen, Julia Willoughby and 600 trees at Tile Cross Rec to plant  – well it doesn’t get much better than that.

There was a lot of excitement from the children as we asked are you ready to plant some trees?

‘Yes!’ came a booming reply which nearly knocked us off our feet. If only we could bottle this kind of energy!

We got off to a flying start as the children and volunteers split into three group around the edges of the Rec and worked together in groups of two and three. After a spade safety talk the children were raring to go.

‘How will we plant 600 trees in a morning?’ one pupil asked.

‘Easy peasy,’ we replied.

Well this group of children were certainly the competitive type. Planting their trees carefully and securely but quietly competing against each other to reach the highest number of trees in the ground. The concentration on their faces was brilliant. Knowing that they were creating a mini forest that everyone in the area would benefit from. When the children asked how big the trees will be in five years……,eight years….. ten years…. 20 years?

We illustrated this by measuring smaller children, to taller children to teachers and then we had to stop as in 20 years we know these wonderful trees will be taller than any of us – and of course benefitting everyone in the local area.

 

The flats in the background will enjoy the benefit of the vibrant colours of the trees through the changing seasons, and will be able to enjoy all the birds and wildlife that will use the trees in future years.

When we explained to the children that these trees being planted are part of the Queens Green Canopy Platinum Jubilee celebrations – they children were evermore enthusiastic. ‘Wow, planting these trees for the Queen and for Birmingham is cool!’ Julia Willoughby, explained to the children how she is the representative of the Queen at such events when the Queen can’t attend! The children could not quite believe their luck and gave a salute and a courtesy as a mark of respect and as part of the celebrations.

And again we were lucky enough to be part of the 100-year legacy of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association. As these wonderful women are planting 100,000 trees this year across the UK to celebrate their centenary! Now that’s what we call people power!

And talking of power, the children form Shirestone Academy did not stop for even  a sharp intake of breath and were disappointed that there were no more trees to plant after the 600th tree gone in the ground.

  

 

The children were pleased as they counted how many trees they had planted all in agreement that Riley was the Tree Champion of the day after planting and epic 20-trees. But we alway remind the children, they are all tree champions, not just because they have planted trees and will enjoy everything trees have to offer  throughout their lives. But because they respect trees and will celebrate trees by sharing their stories about  tree planting with BTfL, for Birmingham, for the Queen, for the environment, for the population – because trees never discriminate – trees benefit absolutely everyone – and we believe that this is a cause for celebration every single day!

Please check out our photo album of this event here

Thank you to Shirestone pupils and staff, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association, Julia Willoughby DL, Geoff Cole, Sue Griffiths, Simon Needle and the Woodland team.