Our first school planting of National Tree Week and what a treat it was to do it in the wonderful company of St Alban’s Catholic School, year-six students. Thirty students who were enthusiastic, excited, curious and full of energy. It was another soggy day, full of mud, mud glorious mud at Brandwood Cemetery!
Wellies caked in the good stuff these wonderful students couldn’t wait to get hold of their spades to dig in the 10 wonderful trees, two Crab Apple, two Oak, two Sweet Gum, two Tulip Trees and two Flowering Cherry. Care and consideration was taken to dig them down, make sure they were straight and smile proudly next to their newly planted trees for photos. One student saying, ‘I love the mud, it’s great to get covered in it while planting trees.’
As well as St Alban’s students’ we had other special guests too. To help us celebrate National Tree Week the Lord Lieutenant, Mr John Crabtree, OBE, the Queen’s representative in the West Midlands came to help at the planting.
It was wonderful to welcome such a special guest. Mr Crabtree was accompanied by his wife, Diana and with spades in hand both worked with the children planting the trees. There was lots of chatter and laughter and talk of the wonder of trees and the beautiful Brandwood Cemetery.
We also welcomed, Mike Leddy, Labour Councillor for the Ward of Brandwood and Kings Heath, it was lovely to be in such great company. Not to mention the wonderful, Friends of Brandwood Cemetery.
Then the children and our guests worked so hard we stopped for some well-earned, tea and biscuits. Pulling off muddy boots in the boot room of the Brandwood End Cemetery Lodge was a skill-in-itself. There was giggles and laughter as 30-children tried so hard to pull off those slippery boots. And there was a moment we thought we had brought more mud in with us than what was left outside! But nothing gets those energy levels zipping back up than a tea-break. While the whole crowd drank tea and ate biscuits there was lots of talk about trees, important conversations under the banner of Communitea! A wonderful way for communities to engage with each other about the matters that we all care about.
After a well-earned rest the children were eager to learn a little bit of history about Brandwood End Cemetery and enjoyed a nature walk with Birmingham City Council Ranger, Dean Paul and Birmingham Trees for Life.
Dean pointed out beautiful oak trees over 500-yers-old. ‘Wow! The children gasped in unison. But as wondrous and beautiful as every tree is in Brandwood Cemetery – it was the Giant Redwoods that dominated the day. With necks craned upwards staring at the 110-ft tall majestic line of Giant Redwood trees the children were eager to find out as much as they could about their history. Hands stretched up into to the air, Dean answered all their quick-fire questions.
‘Yes, these trees were around before the dinosaurs…., they are the tallest trees on the planet…., they are the second biggest organism in the world…., they absorb more carbon dioxide than any other tree…., their root system is 50-ft deep…, they are resistant to insects, fire and rot…., they will be 50-ft taller in 50-years!
Their teacher Catherine Ingram said, ‘our children have had a wonderfully new experience today with Birmingham Trees for Life and they have learnt a lot of really interesting stuff about trees!’
When we arrived at the cemetery there were 1800 trees standing proudly. At the end of the planting we celebrated planting ten more. Ten more trees every student that planted can visit again and again – a legacy they can all enjoy.
Seeing the children’s enthusiasm, somehow we don’t think this will be their last visit to the cemetery to enjoy the wide and varied collection of trees, the trees they planted today and of course the, Giant Redwoods. To see more photos from Brandwood Cemetery planting please click here.