Past Projects – 2008-09
Queens Park, Harborne
The varieties of trees chosen for this park reflected the fact that the area of the park is very boggy. Five rare river birch were planted alongside three more common willows. Old records reveal that this part of the park used to be a pond and there is still a natural spring. It was certainly as muddy as expected on the day of the planting, Thursday 26th March. Local councillors Cllr Deirdre Alden and Cllr John Alden were not deterred by the conditions underfoot, neither were local residents Phillipa and John Russell. The Harborne Society was represented by Phil Stokes. BTFL’s Freddie and Sue thanked the Rangers and volunteers from Woodgate Valley, led by Simon Needle, who did the heavy work of the planting. There will be more planting in this area in the future to transform it from muddy patch to a wildlife area for damp loving trees and plants.
Woodgate Valley Country Park, Bartley Green
There was no shortage of mud at the Country Park when school children got stuck into tree planting on March 5th. In the morning adults had provided the structure for a new hedge line by planting 10 large oak trees. Four City Councillors, representatives of the local community group and some residents of the nearby day care centre for those with learning difficulties were joined by BTFL’s Freddie, Geoff, Jane and Sue who all helped to plant the oaks. The hard work of getting the large trees into place had been done by the Rangers and Apprentices thanks to Simon Needle. The new hedge-row along a path breaks up two large fields used for grazing riding school horses in this rural landscape. After lunch, 30 children from Woodgate Primary School arrived and completed the work by planting 700 mixed native species of saplings. The adults tried to keep them out of the worst of the mud whilst explaining the importance of trees, but more than one Wellington boot got stuck!
At the other side of the field, a very old hedge had developed gaps and was losing its character. The adults planted the remaining 300 saplings in the firmer soil to revive and complete this hedge.
Edgbaston Guinea Gardens
The Edgbaston Guinea Gardens is home to many varieties of ancient apple trees. BTFL is working with the allotment holders to identify and protect these trees to save rare varieties of apple. As apple tree pruning is sometimes seen as a mysterious art, some apple trees have not had the attention that they deserve. Tony and Liz Gentil are national experts on restoring old orchards and looking after traditional varieties and on Saturday 17th January they were able to pass on some of his considerable knowledge. Not only did about twenty plotholders take part, but also some of the staff and students from the nearby Birmingham Botanical Gardens and the nearby school. BTFL was represented by Rob.
The workshop began at nearby Edgbaston High School for Girls where the morning session covered the basic botanical principles of how apple trees grow and how an understanding of these principles can guide the gardener. The afternoon was spent with practical demonstrations on some of the trees on the Guinea Garden plots – this ranged from the re-shaping of old overgrown apple trees by applying major surgery, to the more subtle treatment of young and recently planted trees.
A cold north wind blew up as the afternoon progressed, but most people were absorbed with Tony’s deep knowledge of the subject and didn’t realise how cold they were getting until the end, when the rapid retreat to warmer places was accompanied by a new confidence in how to approach the pruning of our heritage apple trees.
Brookvale Park, Erdington
The Friends of Brookvale Park involved the local children from Brookvale Junior and Infant School to help plant the 5 willow trees down by the Lake on Wednesday 4th March. Pearl Turner was able to watch her grand-daughter help with the planting – she had been chosen by the school to take part as her middle name is Willow!
Castle Vale Nature Conservation Area
This site in Castle Vale used to be a landfill site and is now being managed as a potential nature reserve by the Castle Vale Community Environmental Trust. Before creating a wildflower meadow, ten oak tees were planted to get the reserve off to a good start. The Trust involved 10 teenagers from the Castle Vale School and Specialist Performing Arts College. The local Parks Manager, John Biddle, organised the contractors Veolia/Service Team to do the heavy work of planting the trees. There was great optimism on the day that in the future the site could attract nature a few miles from the city centre – this was captured in an article in the local paper the ‘Vale Mail’.
Ladypool Primary School Reading Tree
BTFL supports the CSV Environment project which provides primary schools with a very large tulip tree with seating to provide a shady place 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. Two classes of Year 4 at Ladypool School were very proud of their tree when the ceremony was held on 22nd April. Several children read out poems that they had written and ‘promises’ to look after their tree. BTFL’s Rob, Geoff, Sue and Freddie thanked the children for their lovely poems and reminded them to enjoy trees in the local parks as well. Thanks were also given to Ruth Wilson from CSV who had taught the classroom sessions (supported by books about trees supplied by the Central Library). Many children added a trowel of soil to the planting hole to wish the tree well. The youngsters forming the School Council are ‘the Green Team’ as the school has a strong environmental programme.
2008 Family Sponsors’ Planting Day, Kingfisher Country Park
Following on from last winter’s first community planting event, Saturday December 6th 2008 saw a group of individuals and families plant the young trees they had sponsored, in Kingfisher Country Park. Again, the event was blessed with a glorious day and adults and children alike enjoyed their chance to ‘commune with nature’ in the cold sunshine. Many families had sponsored a tree (or several trees) in memory of a loved one and for them it was a special way to commemorate the life of someone close. Others had sponsored the tree to celebrate the birth of a new baby and some of those babies were in attendance to supervise their own tree planting!
Other saplings were planted by local children belonging to the Junior Rangers and again, members of the Friends of Kingfisher Country Park participated, as well as providing the refreshments – which were gratefully received by all! The Lord Mayor’s Deputy Cllr Mike Sharpe and two local Councillors (Cllrs Bridle and Ward) also did their bit to help and in total, over 200 saplings were planted by local people, families, Friends, Rangers, BTFL and the City Council contractors who kindly donated their time to assist with the plantings.
2008 Business Sponsors’ Planting Day, Kingfisher Country Park
On a cold but sunny day, a group of hardy business people donned their wellies and scarves to plant trees in Kingfisher Country Park in Shard End on Friday 5th December 2008. Each sponsor company brought a group of staff to plant a large semi-mature tree and a selection of saplings. In all, 8 companies planted 9 semi-mature trees and around 50 saplings to create a new small woodland area close to the Visitor Centre on Kendrick Avenue. They were joined by the Deputy Lord Mayor, Cllr Randal Brew, who also planted an oak tree and the event was rounded off with a buffet lunch and the presentation of commemorative plaques to each company in recognition of their contribution. Some of the donor companies were unable to attend and will be invited to the next planting event in the winter of 2009/10.
Additional semi-mature trees were planted by the Friends of Kingfisher Country Park, and by the contractors to Birmingham City Council parks, who donated their services free of charge to assist with the tree planting. A total of 25 semi-mature oak, ash, silver birch, alder and rowan trees were planted. Sincere thanks to Mike Wheale, Parks Manager, and Leo McKevitt and his team of Rangers for their assistance and enthusiasm. BTFL’s Rob, Geoff, Viv, Jane and Sue were kept busy all day.
Adderley Park, Arden Road, Saltley
Adderley Park is a long way from the sea, but the new Navy Destroyer HMS Daring is affiliated to the City. To cement this relationship, the Captain and crew members regularly visit the City and get involved in community projects. On Friday 7th November, ten crew members got their hands dirty planting six cherry trees in Adderley Park. A few days later they were back in their smart uniforms to take part in the annual Remembrance Day Ceremony in the City Centre. Captain Paul Bennett and Commander Liz Walmsley attended the planting with Cllr Hassall and Park Manager Mike Wheale.
The park is famous for at least two things – firstly it is opposite the site of the oldest car plant in the City – Wolseley’s factory was set up in 1901 (before Austin’s) and between the wars was the largest plant making cars in Europe. Secondly the Birmingham hurricane hit the park in July 2005 damaging buildings and trees alike. Six more cherry trees were planted in the park close to the local primary school. During the planting, the Chairman of BTFL featured in a video made by the Birmingham Evening Mail – appearing on their website.
Ladywood Urban Green Spaces
Ladywood is an intensely urban area with fewer opportunities for park planting as other areas of the city. This project was designed by the local Park Ranger Debbie Needle, to introduce planting on small spaces where local people would appreciate more trees. Debbie worked with the contractors Glendale to introduce some larger than normal semi-mature trees. Debbie wants to make sure that the trees are a focus for activities throughout the year – she reports: ‘The first planting in Ladywood was on St Marks POS – two oaks and five apple trees – we planted the trees next to a “daffodil sun” that the children planted almost five years ago. The class of 30 from Nelson School carried on through the torrential rain and wind and had a wonderful time! We still managed to wish the trees well with a couple of verses of “Grow tree grow, really high, then I can have an apple pie”. We said that we would come and visit the trees in better weather, when we could do some more activities.’
On 17th March at a small public open space at Ryland Street, 15 children from St Johns School planted six flowering cherry trees opposite their school. A local resident passing by could not believe that the trees would soon be flowering – a site visit in May confirmed that these mature trees were!
Local residents involved in the event at Stour Street were also amazed that such large trees could be planted making such an immediate impact on what they thought of as a spare piece of grass. As the six cherry trees and one oak tree are close to a children’s play area, they will eventually provide much needed shade.
Bloomsbury Park, Nechells
The residents living near to the park in Bloomsbury in Nechells have been involved in the ‘In Bloom’ initiative over the last few years and they were keen to add some flowering trees to the park. The Environmental Warden in the area, Jill Manley, liaised with BTFL to arrange for six apple trees to be planted. The local school, Cromwell Primary, sent four children to help out with the planting on Tuesday 24th February. Glendale Contractors helped the young people plant the apple trees and ensure that they were firmed in and staked. Three local residents were also at the event and the Rob and Geoff represented BTFL and took some photographs and the local Ranger was also there to help out.
Mount Street, Nechells
This urban park in Nechells has also been part of the local residents ‘In Bloom’ initiative over the last few years and they too were keen to add some flowering trees to the park. The Environmental Warden in the area, Jill Manley arranged for six apple trees to be planted. Four local school children from St Clement’s Church of England Primary School took part in the planting helped by two local residents and representatives from the local Brumcan recycling business. Geoff represented BTFL.
Kings Norton Park
The planting at Kings Norton Park was to have been at the beginning of February, but the snow and later heavy rain meant that planting could not take place until Thursday 10th March. The Park Manager Joe Hayden, realised that the nine large oak trees had to be planted as soon as possible after they had arrived from the nursery so they were planted in a break in the weather in February – in the mud! When the weather improved, 7 children from the allotment group of forms 5P and 5F of the local Kings Norton Primary School were able to plant the 3 hawthorn ‘Paul’s Scarlet’ and 3 acer ‘Crimson King’ to screen the car park from the pay area. They were accompanied by Sue Rushton from the school and the local rangers helped out. BTFL were represented by Jane, Geoff and Sue.
Selly Oak Recreation Ground
The tree planting event on 25th February provided a stimulus to the Friends of the park to hold a working party a few days before. Over four hours they painted the notice boards and raised beds, weeded, replanted and mulched the shrub beds and removed graffiti and litter from the local area. The planting of 7 hornbeams in a semi circle received many complements from those visiting the park. In addition three rowan trees were planted. Apart from the Friends, help was received from volunteers from CSV Environment and local Street Champions. The local Ranger, Adam Noon, helped out and Simon Cooper, the Constituency Parks Manager, organised the contractors Veolia/Service Team to do the hard work. Raddlebarn Primary School enjoyed the event, sending 150 children to take part.
Rectory Park, Sutton Coldfield
Not many Birmingham school children have seen a ‘laid hedge’ let alone planted saplings to thicken up a hedge growing not far from their school. But on March 19th thirty children from Hollyfield Primary School did just that when 1,000 hawthorn saplings were planted alongside the revived ancient hedge. (Thanks to Ron Smart for laying the hedge.) Beth Ashley, the Ranger who organised the event, said that the hedge is thought to be very old dating from when the cricket club was laid out in 1845. Several of the Friends of the Park, including Peter Bell, were on hand to help the children create a slit with their spade and ease the saplings into the ground – young and old worked together. Viv, Freddie and Sue represented BTFL. Beverley, the Secretary of the Friends had organised the involvement of the children – one young man proudly declared that he had planted 87 saplings himself.
Small Heath Park – Mogul Garden
On Thursday 30th October 2008, several youngsters from the local school planted trees in the Mogul Garden. In 2000 an area of Small Heath Park that was formerly a plant nursery was transformed into a Mogul style garden by BBCs ‘Charlie’s Army’ Series. In 2003 the Friends of Small Heath Park was formed and by 2006 funds had been raised to provide a pavilion with seating and ornamental railings and new gates. Now thanks to funding from BTFL, the garden has been enhanced by 24 Italian Cypress trees – these tall slim trees add to the atmosphere of the quiet garden. It is hoped that the area will become a location for wedding photographs. Some of the Friends of the park, including Ian Crawley were there to help, the local park contractors Serviceteam/Veolia kindly provided refreshments and Park Manager Mike Wheale made sure the trees were well planted. Sue represented BTFL. Wendy Sartain from the Cole Heath extended school cluster encouraged local children from Small Heath School to take part as part of their half term activities.