Tag: Community. Friends Groups.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Community Tree Champions Dug Deep with Smiles and Sparkle That Made Our Day – and possibly the Queen’s!

What started out as a slightly grey and dull morning, quickly turned into an energetic ball of fast and furious fun in Highgate Park. BTfL were planting five multi-stemmed Silver Birch trees to make a natural screen for an ugly wall in the corner of this beautiful Victorian Park. Making it a little bit prettier and much greener with the help of 15 smiley children from Chandos Primary School, six fantastic volunteers from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association and Dame Christine Braddock, the Queens representative  for the Queens Green Canopy Platinum Jubilee celebrations, of course the brilliant Woodland team and not to mention three members of our dedicated BTfL committee and organised by the City of Nature Alliance Member Project.

Highgate Park with its 146-year history was opened in 1876, the first park created by a town council, itself. It was opened to give city dwellers in a largely industrious built up areas some green space go enjoy – so the idea of nature to aid wellbeing isn’t such a new thing after all! The park was hit by 200 German bombs in the Second World War, but was restored graciously in 1952.

  

 

Today the park is used by everyone in the local area, strolling and chatting, dog walking, jogging, a short cut, a quiet place to sit and cool place to shade and is as important today to it’s residents as it was when it first opened. The bandstand and park keepers cottage may be gone, but it’s centre of the beating heart of Highgate can never be underestimated.

  

  

The children from Chandos Primary School told us just how much they used the park and how important it is to them. So, we were happy to tell them that these trees are now part of the park’s legacy and part of these children’s personal legacy.  With that in mind the children quickly organised themselves into BTfL Tree Champions and mini BTfL Tree Champions as the Year six children mentored the year one children at our tree planting event. These children were so eager to get planting, they couldn’t wait to get hold of the spades and start digging and scooping. Taking a great interest in what type of trees we were planting, investigating the branches and buds, eager to see the trees in Spring time covered in beautiful green leave and taking the tree labels back to school to share their knowledge with their pupils. One eagle-eyed student was eager to know why the label stated, ‘tree passport?’

Great question BTfL said, and explained that the passport is an official label for the movement of trees within Great Britain and crown dependencies, demonstrating compliance with plant health. With a disappointed look the eagle-eyed student remarked, ‘oh I thought the trees are came over on a plane from a nice hot country where they had been on holiday!

What a lovely idea!

The children were quick to tell us that many of them lived locally and would be able to see the trees from their homes. ‘Well give them a wave each morning, show your friends and family these beautiful trees, explain their importance to the local area and of course let everyone know that you were planting thee trees for everyone who uses the park and live in the local area and of course the Queen!,’

‘The Queen?’ they gasped.

Wide-eyed wonder took over as Dame Christine Braddock explained that the children we were also planting these trees as part of the Queens Green Canopy celebrations, asking everyone who can to plant a tree to do so.

‘So we’re helping out the Queen today?’ one student asked, ‘Oh Yes, BTfL explained, and how many children in their lifetime can say that – not many!

 

So, it was decided that the students should name the trees – just in case the Queen ever came to visit them – well we believe it could happen! So, her Majesty  can enjoy all the wonder of Team Tree, Head Tree, Silver Tree, Queenie the Tree and Chandos the Tree! What beautiful names. But not only was the energy from Chandos school a beautiful thing, but having six wonderful volunteers from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association in Birmingham at this planting too.

This fantastic community organisation who have groups all over the country will be celebrating a very special milestone this year too – their centenary. And to celebrate they are planting 100,000 trees. We are honoured that they chose to come and complete part of that milestone with BTfL and we thank them very much for doing so. This is the first of their three visits to tree planting events with BTfL, so watch the space.

 

But we had to say SNAP! Because it’s a special year for BTfL too as we will be reaching our 100,000th milestone – this season we will plant our 100,000th tree in Cannon Hill Park in March 2022! So many trees and so much to celebrate!

So we celebrate more trees in the ground, more greenery to enjoy, cleaner air in an industrial area of our great city, more emotional investment from local children in the area, a school that no doubt would love to come back with us and plant some more trees, BTfL helping achieve a centenary of 100,000 trees planted this year by Ahmadiyya’s Muslim Women; Association, not to mention adding to HRH QGC Platinum Jubilee tree planting celebrations and achieving part of the City Of Nature’s Alliance plan for the city!

Well for a cold dank Tuesday morning we think we all did quite well. So always remember that mantra – team work really does make the dream work! Thank you everyone. Please view our photo album from this event here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Busy, Bustling, Beautiful Vibe At Our Community Tree Planting Today!

Today BTfl made their way to Selly Oak Park for our community tree planting and what a wonderful group of people came to join us to replace Hawthorn trees along the side of Gibbons Road. But before we started as always  we surveyed our previous plantings near to the Scout hut in the park. We were pleased to see that our Walnut trees planted ten years ago are doing exceptionally well. And just for a few moments we took some time to love and admire all the beautiful trees in the park. After that we swiftly moved on to welcoming 19-students from years seven, eight and nine and three members of staff arrived from Bishop Challoner Catholic College, local Councillor Tristian Chatfield, the wonderful Selly Oak Park Friends group who do such an amazing job of keeping the park looking fantastic and six member of the Dawat-E-Islami MIDLANDS Community Group to our event. Considering we had four trees to plant and a cascade of enthusiasm from everyone, the holes were dug, the trees placed in the holes and bedded down before  we could say, ‘plant a tree and get air for free!’ But as todays tree planting showed us in particular and like all our other tree plantings show us, tree planting events aren’t always just about planting trees. No – talking trees, sharing stories, feeling empowered, re-living history together and taking pride in all all we do to help the environment – is just as important.

We heard many amazing stories today while planting trees. The story of the legendary Selly Oak Tree that was planted at the junction of Oak Tree Lane and the Bristol Road around 1830 possible to celebrate the Coronation of King William IV. The tree was damaged during construction of local houses and was deemed to danger to leave standing so in 1909 it was felled. The Selly Oak tree stump was then placed in Selly Oak Park with a brass plaque to record it’s legacy.

Then the amazing work that Dawat-E-Islami MIDLANDS Community Group  explained that they are doing, not just tree planting in the West Midland, but all over the world. Working with local communities and school children across the globe, planting two million trees last year. Yes we said two million trees! The six volunteers from the group told us all about their work, we were all ears and wowed by the numbers. We felt very honoured that they had chosen to join us today and will do at future plantings.

The planting of a tree is regarded in the classical Islamic tradition as an act of continuous charity, the most desirable sort of good deeds. The Prophet Muhammad, on whom be peace, said that if one plants a tree then whatever is eventually eaten from it whether by humans or animals counts for the planter as a an act of charity.

 

As BTfL distributed our BTfL badges to the students form Bishop Challoner Catholic College two young students began reminiscing about the last tree planting they had been to with BTfL at St Ambrose Barlow School  in Newey Goodman Park in Hall Green in November 2019. One of the wettest, coldest and muddiest BTfL tree plantings on record! But with grins the two students explained even with the worst weather imaginable they loved every minute of it – here here!

 

Not only that all the students from Bishop Challoner Catholic College today are part of the school Eco Group, growing flowers, plants, herbs, fruit and vegetables to provide food for their garden kitchen, making strawberry  jam to sell to raise funds for school projects and to grow raspberries so that any student who walks passed the fruit can look, admire, pick and enjoy organic home grown fruit, raspberries, strawberries and apples – and if we have been privileged enough to be able to pick fruit we’ve grown ourselves we all know how magical and satisfying the feels! Their next project to plant some trees on school premises – via whips from the Woodland Trust.

So today as always was a brilliant day all round and it proves two very important things – trees always, but always bring people together and – it really is good to talk!

Please view the photo album for this planting here 

 

The MAC Eco Fest Was Simply the Best!

Well it was a long time coming, but BTfL were so happy to be back in the fold at MAC Eco Fest this weekend.

Like all of us, we have missed personal contact with friends, colleagues, supporters and the general-public to chat, share ideas, laugh together and talk trees!

It was almost two years to the day since we enjoyed a get together like MAC Eco Fest and we didn’t realize just how much we’d missed it until we got back to it.

The weather was kind and it was bright and sunny outside in Cannon Hill Park and the atmosphere inside the MAC at the festival was lively, energetic, inspiring and, what’s that word – normal!

Normal, is something we haven’t felt for months and it is something we should celebrate and never take for granted. One thing is for certain we won’t be.

What was lovely for BTfL was sharing a stall with Birmingham Tree People. Now if ever there was a match made in heaven – it’s this one.

 

BTfL plants trees with communities and volunteers and Birmingham Tree People maintains trees with communities and volunteers.

Now we know it might seem like a no brainer, but what better way to start the tree planting season than with Birmingham Tree People.

The public that visited our stall were of all ages and were eager to find out all about trees or more about trees, also share their personal stories about trees. How to get involved in planting them and maintaining them.

Some came for advice about what trees to plant and where, suitable trees for their garden, how many trees we plant and maintain, how they could get involved.

Lots of children loved reading and looking at our  displays, taking our tree educational booklets and going on tree hunts in Cannon Hill Park before the leaves fall from the trees, taking away seeds to plant and colouring in nature posters.

And what we loved most of all was hearing children tell us how much they know about trees!

One of the key messages we heard was how much more people are now appreciating their green spaces, parks and nature since lockdown ended.

We couldn’t be happier that trees are at the forefront of people’s minds.

But not just that, people’s passion for trees is growing and we spoke to many members of the general-public who want to make a mark on the tree legacy in Birmingham. One way you can do that is to log on to Birmingham Tree People’s website and learn how to become a tree warden in your local area, the training is free and you will learn so much while becoming an active tree advocate, here’s the link, check it out.

When we did get a chance to wonder outside in the park, we relished the autumnal colours on the trees, rusty reds, golden yellows and warm ambers glistening in the sunshine. The trees in Cannon Hill Park never cease to amaze us.

 

As do the beautiful people of Birmingham and beyond who visited our stall at the Eco Fest.

And with every new conversation about trees comes more enthusiasm, passion and pragmatism.

And we have plenty more room for much more of that because as we always say, we have to love, love, love trees.

Because a world without trees is a world without lungs and a world without lungs is a world with no future!

It’s a big thanks to the MAC Eco Fest for allowing us to share that message far and wide!

Hello – We Are The Friends of Swanshurst Park

Once used as common grazing land, then bought by the council and designed by Henry Giles as a fishing pool Swanshurst Park has been a well-loved green space for nearly 100-years. Once including a busy boating lake and mini golf course the park lies between Billesley and Moseley in the south of Birmingham.

Swanshurst Park has always been a well-loved green space and while there have been lots of changes at Swanshurst Park over the years one thing has always been central to it – people.

That love transcended into action when the idea of a Friends of Swanshurst Park Group was discussed – and within just six weeks there were over 20 members and a growing list of local people wanting to help nurture their local park. Hamira Sultan came up with the idea of starting a friends group and has been wowed by the whirlwind of interest and pledges from local people to keep Swanshurst Park looking functional, beautiful and central to its community.

Hamira, a mum of one and works for Future Parks Accelerator as the Director of Naturally Birmingham www.futureparks.org.uk and a Public Health Consultant lives in Moseley.

   

Hamira says: Swanshurst Park backs onto my garden and I feel lucky that it is so accessible to my family and me. As a child, I was brought up in Perry Barr, there weren’t many parks and certainly none within walking distance of my home. My family never had a car so I never got to enjoy parks as a child. I didn’t like getting dirty and even as a young adult I had no interest in gardens or gardening so I bought a flat, not a house.

When I moved to Moseley four-years-ago suddenly I had a garden and a park to enjoy. I was surrounded by nature – I had no idea what I’d been missing!

When my son, Esa, (now aged-four) was born I started to understand the value of green spaces and nature. I learnt to ride a bike with my son in Swanshurst Park, I enjoyed the playground and the swings for the first time and realised we were connecting with nature together- a first for both of us.

We started building lots of happy memories in that park – and it is all about building memories. If we all stop and think for a moment when asked, ‘what’s your favourite park?’ There will always be an impassioned response and a story to tell. Now it’s difficult to keep myself and my family away from the park. Whatever the weather we are out bike riding, on nature trails, in the playground or spotting birds around the lake.’

Hamira’s job at Future Parks Accelerator is committed to making all parks and green spaces more accessible. The aim, to have better management of parks and green spaces, ensure the community have greater wellbeing because of their local green spaces, a wider demographic of the community become involved in their parks and green spaces and that the local area will be a better place to work, live and visit because of these green spaces.

Hamira spends a great deal of her spare time promoting, improving and enjoying Swanshurst Park along with 23 volunteers and counting – making the park look wonderful and accessible. Hamira says: “We want to encourage more people to engage with their parks and access the great green spaces around them regularly. Not just see their park as a place to visit, but a place to invest in. For children and adults to connect with nature, to understand the value of their green space and to love it. For it to be an extension of their home.

So, last November I started thinking about starting a Friends of Swanshurst Park Group. I put the word out and the response was brilliant. After some insight and advice from BOSF I set about putting my ideas into action. It’s been nearly four months and we have wonderful group of volunteers with a varied pool of skills to share, teachers, community workers, people with local knowledge who have lived in the area for years.

One of our most eager volunteers is Esa, he will come on litter picks, he checks on the birdlife around the pond with me. He understands about the wild flowers in the park and how we should leave them to bloom and not pick them.  He helps with our organisation of nature trails. He knows the names and types trees in the park.

We now have regular litter picks (within COVID-19 restrictions), we’ve tidied up the signs to the park, asking people to park their cars responsibly and safely. We are now running education sessions for children and adults and encouraging engagement from the local community.

It can be disheartening when we see litter strewn inter park or bins over-spilling with rubbish. As much as it upsets me, I try to think that if there is litter in the park, there are people in the park and if there are people in the park they are benefitting physically and emotionally from it. Not everyone is brought up with the same insights about littering or social expectations so we try not to lecture people, rather show how much more lovely the park is if we all contribute a little to keeping it clean and tidy. And now with every new visit to the park, I notice more joggers, cyclists, dog walkers, families, people playing football, exercising and enjoying nature.

We have big plans for our park and we are applying for community funding to maybe put a wild meadow in our park, have more educational workshops and have youth workers engaging with the children who use the park. We have members who are coming up with some great ideas for people to access nature in the park and for us to nurture young advocates for our park, so the message will filter through children, parents, grandparents and so on.

We know our park is seeing more interaction and a lot of positive feedback about the work we are doing. And we ask if you are interested in becoming a member of the Friends of Swanshurst Park group we will always welcome your input and interest in the park. The park means different things to different people. Whether it’s a socially distanced chat on a park bench, part of a rambling trail, dog walking route or regular play date – or even a quiet space to sit and unwind. One in eight British homes does not have a garden, so parks are more important than ever. So while you might need your park – never forget your park also needs you! If you are interested in the work of the Friends Swanshurst Park or would like to become a member please follow or contact them on social media –

Facebook -Friends of Swanshurt Park 

Instagram – friends_of_swanshurst_park  

Twitter – @FOSwanshurst

e – swanshurstpark@gmail.com 

 

 

The Urban Tree and the Birmingham Trees for Life Legacy

Here is a blog celebrating the urban tree in Birmingham written for Birmingham Contemporary Music Group @BCMG please enjoy.

Look around you wherever you go – outside your front door, the local park, a city street, your nearest school, or community space, your garden, your neighbour’s garden. Trees are never far from your eye-line wherever you go or wherever you are.

Imagine just for a moment your city, town, village or local area without trees and green spaces! It would be sparse, grey and lifeless. All concrete, straight lines and angles, no birds chirping, no blossom blooming, no beautiful green canopy cover or vibrant autumnal colour.

Not only would we miss trees’ huge environmental impact, their positive effect on our air quality, health, wellbeing, and on wildlife – we’d miss out on their beauty!

Trees have never been more important, and their value can never be over-estimated. It’s a message Birmingham Trees for Life repeats every year.

Birmingham Trees for Life has been a small, pragmatic project achieving great things in the city of Birmingham for 14-years. If you live in Birmingham, it’s almost guaranteed that at least one of the trees in your local park or green space has been planted by Birmingham Trees for Life.

In that time, we have planted over 90,000 trees in parks and green spaces, and worked with over 6000 volunteers including thousands of school children. We plant between 7000 and 10,000 trees a year during tree planting season, between November and March. As every new tree planting season starts, we bed down our beautiful standard trees in urban spaces, work with school children and volunteers planting thousands of whips.

We watch as these wonderful woodlands grow, encouraging biodiversity, adding colour and canopy cover and we appreciate their beauty, environmental legacy and positive impact on our physical and emotional wellbeing. Not only that, the impact of green spaces on the city’s economy is worth £11-billion.

Trees absorb CO2, produce oxygen and support biodiversity. Trees reduce flooding, cool hot cities, absorb pollutants, provide a food source for people and wildlife and reduce noise in built up areas. They also provide shade and shelter. One mature tree can absorb 48lbs of CO2 per year. Multiply that by 90,000 and you have an epic figure, resulting in a legacy that BTfL is very proud of!

What we and every individual or community we work with do is create a tree legacy!

But it’s not just about planting trees, it’s about involving the great people of Birmingham in everything we do. Whether you are a school, community group, volunteer, stakeholder or sponsor we embrace and celebrate your support.

Children and adults have planted trees with us in the sunshine and in the pouring rain. Not even the worst weather dampens their spirits nor ours because we all understand that every tree planted is a legacy, helping save the environment one tree at a time.

When we plant a tree, we feel a sense of empowerment, of ownership, of humility – it’s therapy!

We believe that so many people in Birmingham have been part of the BTfL legacy that it’s like six degrees of separation – you might not have planted a tree with us yet, but you probably know someone that has! And if you haven’t planted a tree with BTfL yet, you can always plant a tree of your own. Here at BTfL we live and work by the mantra “ask what you can do – pledge to plant a tree or two!”

As one of our 10-year-old volunteers from St Matthew’s Church of England School said, “trees are the earth’s lungs and we have to keep planting them”. So we do!

In addition to planting trees, at BTfL we also enjoy forging new working relationships – one of which is with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group as they prepare for their T R E E concert in the Spring.

Geoff Cole, Chairman of Birmingham Trees for Life says: “Trees are so important, especially in a large industrial city like Birmingham, and if we want less pollution, less flooding and cleaner air we simply have to plant more trees! By partnering with organisations around the city, including BCMG, we can help to get the message out about the importance of trees to our environment.”

Our partnerships across the city with artists, poets, musicians and educators help spread the message about how important it is to nurture nature, from planting trees and celebrating trees through digging holes and bedding down our saplings to art, singing, writing, drawing and composing!

And every new tree planted, every new partnership, linked or joint community venture achieved is helping BTfL celebrate that Birmingham is one of the greenest cities in Europe. The city has 571 parks totalling over 14-square miles of public open space, more than any other equivalent sized European city.

Birmingham boasts over one million trees – as many as the population of the city!

Who would have thought it: Birmingham, central to the industrial revolution could be a green beacon of environmental greatness for its population. So much so that only last year Birmingham earned the international accolade of becoming a Tree City of the World!

To become a tree city of the world, Birmingham had to meet five core standards – establish responsibility; set the rules; know what you have; allocate the resources; and celebrate achievements. Birmingham Trees for Life worked closely with the City Council to review the city’s tree policy going some way in meeting the requirements of becoming a Tree City of the World.

As each new tree planting season approaches BTfL pays attention to increasing tree planting in inner city areas where air is more polluted. By filtering polluted air, reducing chemical smog formation, shading out harmful solar radiation and providing an attractive, calming setting for recreation, trees can have a positive effect on the incidence of asthma, skin cancer and many stress related illnesses. The positive effects of the green environment, especially trees, on mental health are now well-documented, especially since lockdown.

Humans have evolved to live in harmony with the natural environment – when we are deprived of contact with it, our mental and physical health suffer – and the benefits are for everyone.

Planting trees does everyone in the city and the world a very big favour. What could feel better than that? We know – planting another tree!

So never underestimate the urban tree. Whether it stands alone on a street corner, is rooted in your garden or blossoms beautifully in your local park.

Love that tree and appreciate that tree; celebrate that tree and better still – plant a tree!

Because a world without trees is a world without lungs and a world without lungs is a world with no future!

It’s National Tree Week 28th November – 6th December 2020

Well it’s National Tree Week, the biggest celebration of trees in the UK. It’s  BTfL’s long awaited circle in the calendar.  In normal circumstances, we would be running arts and education sessions, tree bathing and enjoying nature walks and planting trees all  over Birmingham with our varied group of followers, supporters and many schools.

But this year is anything,  but normal.

If our planting season had gone to plan, we would be celebrating our 100,000th tree in the ground this season. But although it’s disappointing there is always next year!

So, tree week is a very different celebration this year, so just like we hug our trees here at BTfL, we are wrapping our arms around the new normal and celebrating in a different way.

As a very busy project we hardly get a moment to put our spades down and pause for breath or even celebrate what we’ve achieved over the last 14-years.

So, this year we wanted to look back and enjoy some of our previous plantings, with a view to what great things are in store in the future.

This pandemic has brought buzz words, ‘lockdown, face mask, Covid, isolation, test, track and trace and – wellbeing!

Wellbeing is something we’ve all had to think about and whether It’s our own, our family, friends or neighbour’s wellbeing is taking care of our emotional needs in these difficult times.

This year, wellbeing has been all about re-discovering nature. During lock down are movements were limited, so what did we do – we all went for a walk!

And with that walk came an even greater appreciation of our green spaces, parks and trees.

At the beginning of lock down we enjoyed the colour and vibrancy of spring blossom. These are trees we plant in built up areas, knowing that local-residents will enjoy the beautiful flowers and the snow flurry of delicate pink and white petals falling to the round as the blossom fades.

Then came the beautiful summer canopy cover when trees and their leaves bloom in to vibrant greens providing large canopies for us to shade under and gasp in wonder!

And during the second lockdown we have enjoyed all the drama of Autumn colour changes, with beautiful radiant reds, glowing orange, yellows and rusty browns of Liquid Amber,  Maple, Rowan and Oak to name just a few.

And even though winter has arrived our wonderful trees still look amazing with their super strength and structure of trunks and branches evolving into weird and wonderful shapes, and curves.

So here are some examples of established trees we’ve planted over the years for you to enjoy.

ChinnBrook Meadows, Billesley 2011-2012

  
This was a very special event as it marked the planting of BTFL’s 10,000th tree on 17th March 2011. The honour was given to the Lord and Lady Mayoress, Cllr and Mrs Gregory, and they were joined by the Chairman of The Birmingham Civic Society, David Clarke. They were not alone, as teenagers from Cockshutt Hill Technical College worked to help primary pupils from Our Lady of Lourdes plant well over 100 trees. These included 5 oaks & 5 alder, plus whips of alder, oak, field maple and small leaved lime. These trees are thriving in an already green area used by cyclists, ramblers, children, dog walkers, runners enjoying all the fresh air and beautiful greenery this areas has to offer.

Hazelwell Park, Strichley 2011- 2012  

   

Friends of Hazelwell Park, with help from the Ranger service, planted a number of fruit and nut trees in their local green space. The trees planted included eating, cooking and crab apples, plums, pears, cherry and of course giant hazels. The project has helped turn a neglected area of the park into a community orchard and increased the foraging potential throughout. The trees will increase biodiversity in the area when insects like bees will be encouraged there by the flowering trees and help pollinate them. The planning and planting of an edible park in an urban area presented the Friends group with a new and challenging project. The group is now looking forward to learning how to care for their trees and in the future a fruitful harvest.

Victoria Common, Northfield 2011-2011 

   

BTFL has filled gaps in an avenue along the main path with flowering hawthorns and cherries and increased the park’s tree collection with an Indian bean tree and a foxglove tree.  The Friends of the park were, on the same day, busy creating a new orchard, also through Big Tree Plant funding. A very busy and well loved park used by the local schoolchildren form St Laurence’s Junior and Infant School which is on the parks doorstep. In the summer locals take full advantaged the shade these trees bring, adding to an already diverse and unusual collection of native native British trees and none native trees. 

Trittiford Mill, Billesley 2009 -2010

     

The rain didn’t deter the pupils of Our Lady of Lourdes Junior School. With the help of their teachers, Ranger Adam Noon, Councillor Axeford, her husband, and Geoff and Jane from BTFL, they successfully planted 10 large trees at Trittiford Park.  They all went back to school very muddy but happy, and keen to know when they could come again!  Pupils and teachers have promised to keep an eye on the trees. Trittiford Mil Park is dominated by a large lake with a path weaving’s way around the water. With little open space it, BTfL found enough it to plant some trees and watch them grow into beautiful young specimens, here today.

Daisy Farm Park 2009- 2010

   

The Friends of Daisy Farm Park and the local Ranger Adam Noon planted 181 mixed whips at Daisy Farm Park as part of the BBC’s World Record attempt on Saturday 5th December.  Oak, Hazel, Hawthorn, Ash, and Field Maple were planted to fill gaps in an existing hedgerow and to further extend the wooded area. In addition, a small grey alder was planted in a waterlogged corner of the playing field. Now it’s looking like a small healthy woodland all of it’s own. Along a busy road with lots of residential areas this small woodland is helping purify the air and provides a wonderful environment for wildlife to thrive.

Kings Norton Park 2017 – 2018

   

Once again we helped the Friends of Kings Norton Park to continue establishing an avenue of beautiful Redwoods with support from a Birmingham resident, Luc, who also came along to help to plant the trees. We were also joined in the mud by two local families. The trees we previously planted have established well so we hope that in a few years the avenue will really start to take shape as the trees mature. This park is part of the history of the Birmingham Civic Society too so it was one of our Centenary plantings.

Grove Park, Harborne 2006 -2007

 

BTfL planted standard oak trees, with a number of happy volunteers,enjpying the ray weather, and odd ray of sunshine.  Now they are looking extremely healthy and their acorns have produced young plants at the edge of their canopy.  You can see that the mowing regime in the park has cut swathes through the grass.

Queens Park, Harborne 2017 – 2018

In partnership with Trees for Cities this planting involved several teams of volunteers and each one had to identify a tree in the storage facility, read a map to find out where its location should be, move it to the planting site (wheelbarrows to the ready) and then dig a large planting hole.
After planting the tree, they were asked to add stakes and ties and finally mulch around the base. Trees for Cities had mobilised over 30 volunteers from various organisations to assist us, pupils from nearby Baskerville School also helped, as did some local residents.

Two years later, the trees are very well established. This Liquidambar vigorous, healthy leaf growth in May this year. The couple have been proudly back to see it several times!’

Note the red brick building in the background showing the tree being planted and now the trees well established and looking wonderfully healthy.

Reminiscing about these events is only a tiny handful of the hundreds of planting events we done over the years. So far 6000 children and volunteers have planted over 90,000  trees and counting.

We are happy at the progress ours/your trees are making and revel in the knowledge that almost every child, volunteer, teacher, environmental group, corporate sponsor, friends and family member, or any individual who has ever planted a tree with us – will in the future point, smile and say, ‘there’s my tree!

It’s a legacy that stays with everyone that has dug that hole, placed that tree inside the hole and stomped down the soil to keep that tree in place.

Despite this terrible pandemic we hope that lockdown has given us all more time  to engage with nature and trees. Like BTfL does this year in and year out.  Because planting trees is good for physical and emotional wellbeing, allows children and adults to become part of a tree planting legacy, improve their local environment, investing in the local area, empowering children and nurturing civic pride.

Every new tree planted in Birmingham is an environmental legacy. Children engage on an enthusiastic level with the tree planting and take ownership over the trees they have planted. Trees that in 20-years-time students and your school can re-visit and see their trees thriving.

So when lockdown is over and we get back to what we consider normal we will be looking to the future, to planting 90,000 more trees and never forgetting how important trees were to people during lockdown and hoping that the little space in your heart you made for trees and nature  during those sunny walks in lockdown 2020  will continue grow just like our wonderful trees!