Past Projects – 2007-08
Civic Society 90th Birthday, City Centre Gardens
To celebrate 90 years of service to the City, the Civic Society chose a magnificent birch tree to be planted in the City Centre Gardens close to Baskerville House. The tree was planted in May 2008 by staff from Birmingham Parks and Nurseries who look after the park. On hand to help were Freddie Gick, Chairman of the Civic Society and Sue Griffith BTFL. A ceremony will be held in July 2008.
Heritage Apple Project at the Edgbaston Guinea Gardens
The historic Edgbaston Guinea Gardens are the home of many old apple and pear trees. Laid out from 1844 they are listed on the Register of Historic Landscapes. Some of the existing trees date from Edwardian times and therefore there are several examples of traditional varieties that are no longer widely grown. BTFL thought that it was important that these trees should be celebrated. Therefore fruit from about 60 trees was collected before the Apple Day and half of them positively identified. Several traditional varieties were found, including two very old ones. Several of the varieties found have long been connected with the ‘marcher counties’ of the English/Welsh border. The trees will be labelled with
botanical labels to help celebrate and protect these trees.
A new orchard of 14 apple trees has been created out of a derelict plot and the first trees were ceremonially planted on Apple Day. Restoring the site over the previous year took effort from many volunteers. Part of the plot is now being cultivated by the local school and there are plans to restore the old war-time bothy on the site. Apple trees have also been given out to 19 plotholders for planting on the site so that the traditional character of the site can be maintained.
Apple Day 2007, Birmingham Botanical Gardens
In October, rural areas hold events to celebrate harvest in general and the apple in particular, but not many cities hold the traditional ‘Apple Day’. The Birmingham Botanical Gardens and Glasshouses worked in partnership with BTFL to hold a very popular event in Edgbaston on 27th October 2007 – over 1,000 people attended. A magnificent display of over 250 apple varieties was supplied by Nick Dunn of Frank P Matthews from Tenbury Wells. He also provided a display of different types and styles of apple trees. Also at the event were cider tasting and lectures on cider making, a display by the Marcher Apple Network, apple crushing and juicing and apple bobbing. Many people brought their apples along to be identified by apple doctor Tony Gentil. The adjoining Edgbaston Guinea Gardens were open to the public and planting of apple trees in their new orchard took place. There was also a display of different varieties of apple grown on these historic allotments.
Conker Island, Warren Farm Road, Kingstanding
Although conker trees sometimes get a bad press, school children from Christ the King School and Warren Farm School were delighted to help plant three new conker trees near their schools in Kingstanding. Parks Manager John Biddle, and Chris Poole, Neighbourhood Co-ordinator, were on hand to help, and Alison Holmes and Jean Douglas from the Youth Inclusion Project also enjoyed the event on Thursday 21st February.
Brookvale Park, Erdington
It was a frosty day on the 19th February when children from Brookvale Junior and Infant School planted the 9 beech trees in the park near their school. Although Service Team had dug the large holes needed for the semi-mature beech trees, the children got stuck in with spades to complete the job. They were helped by a teacher, the Constituency Parks Manager John Biddle and the local City Councillor Cllr Penny Holbrook.
The Erdington Bequest, Pipe Hayes Park
The late Marion Williams loved trees and after she passed away, her family found a unique way of creating a long lasting memorial in the area where she lived and travelled daily on her way to the school where she worked. Six large semi-mature trees were planted by family and friends in Pype Hayes Park in February 2008.
Cannon Hill Park, Moseley
The Friends of Cannon Hill created the Willow Archway Project. This involved the use of 50 established willows to create the willow tunnel at the entrance to Queen Mother’s Woodland. Also purchased were 50 willow withies to establish a willow bed for cultivation and annual cutting. The site of the tunnel is off the Rea Valley Walkway near Holders Lane. The Queen Mother’s Woodland is a natural woodland between allotments and the River Rea. The Willow Archway entrance leads to paths through the woodland, crossing a stream. A Willow Craft Worker was employed for weaving sessions with schools. The willows grown will be used in the future to create willow sculptures.
Highbury Park, Moseley
On Saturday 8th March fifteen Friends of Highbury Park, a dozen local residents and the Constituency Parks Manager Sue Amey, braved the strong winds to celebrate the planting of 17 trees. Although most of the trees had been planted by the local Service Team/Veolia grounds maintenance team, the Friends got down to work and dug the holes for the remaining three trees. One of these was planted by the western entrance to the Park near Shutlock Lane where the ground is wet – the Black Poplar will be happy in the wet conditions. Another was planted on higher ground in the park – a Small Leaved Lime. The majority of the trees, including oak and beech, had been planted by the contractors to line the road to the car park from Shutlock Lane – these have filled in some gaps left where old trees have died. After the planting, teas and cake were very welcome in the shelter of the marquee.
Ward End Park
At the Community Garden, seven apple trees were planted along the edge of the garden by children from the seven schools that are involved in the Garden. The Garden was created from rough ground by the Friends of Ward End Park to introduce local school children to growing vegetables. The Garden was funded through a variety of sources. The planting of the apple trees was one of the first activities that the children were involved in and it helped stimulate their interest in the idea of gardening. The Garden was opened by the Lord Mayor Cllr Randall Brew on 25th April and there were some very proud children at the event. Also at the opening were several Friends of Ward End Park, the Constituency Director Rob James, the Constituency Parks Manager Mike Wheale and representatives from BTFL. Each of the schools taking part were presented with a certificated by the Lord Mayor to mark the occasion. This project is an innovative venture in an area where gardening may be a new idea to many of the children. It will help them to learn about where their food and their apples, come from.
Norman Chamberlain Local Nature Reserve, Shard End
The nature reserve consists of grasslands, wetlands and playing fields for use of the whole community. It is managed by the Friends and Rangers of Kingfisher Country Park. The planting was an extension of an existing woodland which has a high visual impact as it is close to a school, road and cycle path at Gressel Lane, Tile Cross. A total of 500 mixed broadleaved young trees were planted – species included oak, silver birch, hazel, hawthorn, ash and rowan. The trees were planted by local school children and the Kingfisher Junior Rangers, supervised by the Ranger, Leo McKevitt. A planting was also arranged for the regular conservation and Friends groups. T he events were successful in increasing awareness of the nature reserve within the local community.
Summerfield Park, Ladywood
Two schools, one from each side of the park, braved gale force winds to help plant an avenue of 20 trees on 12th March. There was bright sunshine and fortunately the rain stayed away. The local Ranger, Debbie Needle told the children about the maples that were being planted – they will have dark red leaves in the autumn. The Constituency Parks Manager Lee Southall, was also on hand to help. This Victorian Park has many mature trees and some had had to be cut down as they were getting too old, so the chance to plant a new avenue was very timely. Children from Barford Road School and City Road J&I helped plant the trees on ‘their’ side of the avenue, east and west. However before the planting started they wished the trees ‘belonging’ to the other school good luck! After the planting the local city councillor Cllr Chaman Lal handed out a ‘I’ve planted a tree in Birmingham’ badge to every child.
Kings Norton Nature Reserve
The site is part of the River Rea corridor – the planting scheme involved the clearance of the riverbank of scrub followed by the replanting with 600 oak and hazel whips (saplings) to create an area where future management by coppicing will sustain the green corridor through the local nature reserve. In the area close to Wychall Lane, several gaps in the boundary were filled with 20 oak trees to improve site security. A core group of active volunteers from the local community have been trained in conservation activities and they undertook the planting. This long established and active group of residents run regular open days, open to all. The trees will be looked after in the future as part of the management plan for the site.
Balaams Wood Nature Reserve, Frankley
Local people have been working very hard to achieve the designation of this area of Rubery Lane, Frankley as a Local Nature Reserve (LNR). On 29th February 2008 the Friends of Balaams Wood planted 15 oak trees along the boundary of the nature reserve along Ormond Road in order to create a visible boundary to the reserve to increase awareness of the importance of the ancient oak woodland. The City Council’s Ranger Service and the Constituency Parks Manager, Joe Hayden were on hand to help and Birmingham Parks and Nurseries helped with the hard work. About 15 of the Friends helped to plant the trees and the local MP Richard Burden also took part in the event – he spoke about the importance of trees to the local community. Also involved were the local City Councillors, the Constituency Parks Manager and the local community police officers.
Newhall Valley Country Park, Sutton Coldfield
This is a new country park and the Friends Group is just getting established. Bishop Walsh School lies at the south western end of this country park and three pupils from the school helped to plant one of the 12 large oak trees that were planted along the cycle path leading from Wylde Green Car Park.
Jamboree Avenue, Sutton Park
Sutton Park was the venue of the 9th World Scout Jamboree in 1957. This Jubilee Jamboree celebrated Scouting’s 50th anniversary and an obelisk was erected to commemorate this anniversary of Scouting. Therefore in 2007 Sutton Park was the venue for scouts to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the 1957 Jamboree. BTFL suggested that tree planting would be a good way to celebrate and a few months later, 56 English Oaks were planted by scouts to create a Jamboree Avenue. Birmingham and Sutton Scout Association were involved in the planting with funds supplied by the Sutton Constituency of Birmingham City Council.
2007/8 Family Sponsors’ Planting Day, Sheldon Country Park
On 23rd February 2008, local people who had sponsored trees through the ‘Plant a Tree for Life’ scheme gathered to plant their trees at Sheldon Country Park. One couple was celebrating their engagement, one family had come to remember the death of a loved one and several families came so that their young children could plant a tree in a public park where they could visit it in years to come. As some of the people who had sponsored trees could not be at the event, their trees were planted by BTFL members.
2007/8 Business Sponsors’ Planting Day, Sheldon Country Park
It was a sunny day when office workers from nine Birmingham companies swapped wellies for computers to plant trees in Sheldon Country Park one Friday lunchtime on 22nd February 2008. Each company group planted a large semi-mature tree and five saplings. The Lord and Lady Mayoress chatted to those busy with spades and then posed for photographs with each group. Plaques for the office were presented to the companies taking part and lunch rounded off a satisfying ‘dress down day’, with young business people displaying their commitment to the environment, corporate social responsibility and improving their own city. Some of the twelve companies who had donated their £250 ‘Tree for Life’ sponsorship were unable to attend, and were invited to another event.
BTFL supported the CSV Environment project which provides primary schools with a very large tulip tree with seating to provide children with a shady space to read at playtime. At the same time sessions on the importance of trees are taught by CSV and the children take part in the planting ceremony. This unique project has a great impact on the children of inner city schools – lucky schools this year were Holy Family R.C. Primary School, Blakesley Hall Primary School and Oldknow Junior School.
Westley Vale Millennium Green, Acocks Green
Millennium Greens were created in the year 2000 as new areas of open space to be used and managed by local people through trusts. The Wesley Vale site in Acocks Green is a former allotment site adjacent to The Avenue. It has a woodland with old trees that need replacing, a wetland and grassland as well as the millennium tree planting area. An area in the middle of the site, at the crossroad of pathways was being encroached by brambles, and has been planted with silver birch and rowans. Cottesbrooke Junior and Infant School use the site regularly – educational packages about the wildlife on the site have been developed.