Tag: Tree planting in Birmingham

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 First Day Back Planting the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Very Special Tree!

Well, what a morning we had! The sun was shining brightly in the Forest School Garden of Yenton Primary School. The hole had been dug and there was a beautiful Acer campestre Elegant tree waiting to be planted by 47 Year-Five children.  The  School Student Council, Dr. John Craggs, the Crown Appointed Deputy Lieutenant for the West Midlands, The Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councillor Muhammed Afzal and excited staff from school as well two  enthusiastic members of the BTfL team happy to be out at a tree planting – our first one in nearly two years!

And what a lovely way to start the season it was!

The tree planting at Yenton Primary school was a very special event. Yenton Primary School was chosen to be one of only three schools in the West Midlands to have a tree planted in their grounds to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

  

This season we are all being encouraged to plant a tree for the Jubilee.

The setting couldn’t have been better as the beautiful sunlight dappled through the tree canopy of the forest school. Children lined up to be part of this very special ceremony. Dr. John Craggs made a speech on behalf of the Queen to thank the  children and the school for taking ownership of the tree and how as custodians there would nurture and care for this tree.

The children will see the tree through all seasons and will sit under it to read and to enjoy every thing their forest school has to offer.  Dr John Craggs talked about one of his friends who had attended Yenton Primary School in 1971 and how she had left  to carve out a wonderfully successful career and to travel the world – inspiring words for the students to hear.

The Headmaster, Paul Smith also spoke on behalf of the children and the staff to thank The Queens Green Canopy for this special gift and how honoured the felt to have been given the tree.

Then the tree was planted by nearly every school child at the planting, every member of staff and by The Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Lieutenant Dr. John Cragg all taking a spade full of earth and placing it in the hole and around the tree – talk a about team work making the dream work!

   

But then the tree needed bedding down so we asked the children if they could stomp? Almost all every eager hand waved in the air wanting to bed down the tree with some stomping.

Once that was done the tree felt very secure. Only then the beautiful ornamental tree guard was placed around the tree and the plaque celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee tree was placed on it for everyone to look on and admire.

   

Once again it was smiles all round, but then the big decision of naming the tree – a decision for the school council. After a few suggestions, they decided diplomatically and unanimously that the tree should be called, ‘Yenty!’

What a great name, for a great tree, in a great school!

So here sits Acer campestre Elegant, the first Queens Jubilee Tree planting in the West Midlands, a tree that celebrates the Platinum Jubilee – Queen Elizabeth II, 70-years on the throne! No doubt this tree will be loved, sat under, admired, photographed, hugged, read around and watered for the next 70-years by children generation upon generation of Yenton Primary School. And while some of us may not be around to see that day. Some of the children that planted the tree today may well come back to visit the tree with their children and their grandchildren – and by golly that’s what we call a tree legacy!

Here is a link to the photo album of the day.

If you would like to record your tree planting as part of the Queens Jubilee tree planting programme your can find all the information here

 

 

 

 

 

Review of the BTfL Year 2019 – 2020

Well here we again looking back at another year. Normally we would be celebrating planting another 10,000 trees and working with hundreds of volunteers, but as we all know 2020 has been a very different and very difficult year for all of us.

When lockdown happened our tree planting activity stopped and has struggled to get properly started again.

We understood that the world had bigger priorities than tree planting. It was disappointing not to be outside breathing in the fresh air digging holes and building on those great relationships we share with the people of Birmingham.

But as we all adjusted it was clear that there was one positive outlet. The one revelation for everyone was – nature!

We all began to appreciate and absorb and enjoy everything outside had to offer. The sunshine, wildlife, flowers blooming, trees flowering, a walk barefoot on the grass. Our gardens and green spaces became a sanctuary that aided our wellbeing and physical health.

  

Now nature as a healer is not news to us and we couldn’t help, but hope that nature and trees Birmingham’s green spaces would continue to be appreciated for what they do – nurture our physical and mental wellbeing.

So instead of asking our friends and followers to join us outside we asked them to enjoy the outside and tell us about the wellbeing through their window.

It was a lovely moment in BTfL’s year when we received photos and words describing a green space or garden of individuals celebrating nature outside their window and how it was helping them through lockdown.

It was an insight into how nature does heal without us even being aware of it. It doesn’t matter whether it is one tree on your doorstep that you watched that same squirrel climb up every day, a window box where you grew herbs or a garden where wildlife thrives and trees bloom.

We then asked local school children to draw trees. It was an opportunity for students to study trees, their shapes, leaves, trunks and surrounding habitat and interpret it in some wonderful ways. The results were beautiful from some very talented students.


Along with the trees drawings we also undertook to Camera Obscura workshops as part of our HS2 funding programme. Here the children built their own pin hole camera via Zoom under the direction of Jo Gane, photography practitioner and funded by photography artist, Matthew Murray through his arts council funding.

Then the children captured images of trees and nature around their school grounds using a cardboard box, tracing paper and a small lens with magical results.

 

These projects ensured we kept in touch with schools and undertook artistic projects while we couldn’t plant trees. It was so successful we are now looking at organising a fuller arts and education programme during the summer months, so please watch this space.

And while lockdown was in full swing we said a sad goodbye to our Project Manager of 12-years, Jane Harding. Jane was leaving for pastures new, we were ad to see Jane go and wished her all the luck with her new adventures. Then we  welcomed our new Project Manager, Sophia Nasreisfahany.

An unusual and challenging time to join a busy project, but Sophia has settled brilliantly, bringing great ideas, lots of enthusiasm and a passion for trees that we all share.

We celebrated tree memories asking, committee members and followers to share a special memory about a tree, or indeed a special tree in their life.

It was another great insight into how trees bring such positivity, warm emotions and happy memories.

While we had more tine over the summer some committee members looked back at previous tree plantings going back 16-years.

It was an opportunity to celebrate these small woodlands thriving in areas where before we planted trees there was – nothing.

Seeing a wide variety of native and non-native trees growing in urban areas, providing a safe habitat for wildlife, cleaner air, reduced flooding and a much more beautiful landscape to enjoy – we felt a small swell of pride.

We have continued to promote the West Midland’s Combined Authority’s Virtual Forest too.

The West Midlands aims to increase tree canopy cover to 25 percent, to combat climate change, but we need your help to count the trees being planted.

So, if you click the link you can register the trees you have planted in your garden or anywhere else so we can get a better idea of just how many trees are growing in the West Midlands.

https://www.wmca.org.uk/what-we-do/environment/west-midlands-virtual-forest/

To continue the theme of arts, culture and trees we have recently began working with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.

BTfL’s partnership with BCMG comes as the BCMG ensemble prepares for its concert, where it will perform, T R E E in Spring 2021.

T R E E will include the world premiere of Christian Mason’s new Sound Investment commission ‘The Singing Tree’, with text by Paul Griffiths, and ‘Concertini for ensemble’ by Helmut Lachenmann.

BCMG also plans to offer a wide range of resources and creative music-making activities for young people, related to environmental matters.

BCMG Artistic Director Stephan Meier comments, “During the past couple of years, a number of composers have told me of their intention to write music inspired by nature, trees in particular. We believe great art should grow from a sound relationship with nature; as I write, Christian Mason is busy composing a sort of oratorio in the shape of a tree, based on a libretto specifically written for this occasion by Paul Griffiths. We are delighted to partner with Birmingham Trees for Life as we prepare for the World Premiere of The Singing Tree, and I hope that our work together will ensure that the impact of this music goes way beyond the concert hall.”

Geoff Cole, Chairman of Birmingham Trees for Life, comments: “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.”

We are excited at the prospect of working in conjunction with BCMG in Spring 2021. Working in local schools planting trees and undertaking educational engagement sessions to aid BCMG’s TREE legacy.

Our tree experts on the BTfL committee will also be lending their expertise and undertaking woodland walks with BCMG to learn all about the value of trees, especially in a large urban area like Birmingham.

And while we have been unable to plant trees we have been working towards finding other areas to plant trees to create small woodlands in areas that need greener areas for people to enjoy and a place for biodiversity to flourish – exciting times!

So, considering BTfL was stopped in its tracks like everybody else, we were forced to change, adapt and become more innovative. We continued to reach out digitally enabling people to engage with trees on a different level which has been a revelation for us.

So, we may have been and may still be physically distanced for a while – but socially we have stayed connected. And connection in these times of lockdown, isolation and sometimes loneliness,  connection is what we all of us need in bucket loads!

We would like say thank you to ur partners and funders  and to everyone who has supported BTfL-

   

Tree Memories, Favourite Trees, Tree Legacy!

As every new tree planting season starts and we bed down our beautiful standard trees in urban spaces, work with volunteers planting 1000’s of whips and watch as these wonderful woodlands grow, encouraging biodiversity, added colour and canopy cover, we appreciate trees, their beauty, environmental legacy impact on the economy and our physical and emotional wellbeing.

But what about our personal tree memories, our favourite tree, how trees have the power conjure a certain emotion or feeling.

If we stop for a moment and think about it, many tree memories start in childhood, climbing that gnarly old twisted willow tree, the joy of picking fruit from a tree in a garden, relaxing in the shade under that same tree on a hot summers day, sitting a well-worn tree stump, the hypnotic sun dappled patterns of leaf shadows dancing on the ground or even sitting with a pen and paper and drawing a tree as a child!

BTfL asked supporters, followers and volunteers about their tree memories, favourite tree and the response was wide and varied. One thing was clear all tree talk was, joyous impassioned and emotive. Illustrating that trees nurture our emotions as well as health and our surroundings, so here are some for you to enjoy!

Viv Astling, BTfL Committee Member and former Chairman of the National Forest Company – 

The tree I have chosen is one I look out on every day. Its an Oak and it is on the edge of a small green outside my house. We moved here over 45-years ago and the oak tree was more or less as it is today. Perhaps its well over 100 years old. It has had some major surgery over the decades under the watchful eye of the local residents (including me) which has enabled the tree to retain its shape and vigour.

At the millennium there was discussion about planting another tree funded by the residents but nothing happened. In the absence of collective action, my wife rang the City Council and asked for more trees and they appropriately planted three more oaks. So we have a green with four oaks. That was at a time when the Council had a tree planting budget.

The tree is frequently used in the Summer as a stopping off place on the way home by children from the nearby school as it gives great shade and the soil round the tree forms a slope for lounging. Sometimes its the place for leaving coats and bags during a game of football. The tree presides over the green with some authority and the three newcomers have a great role model for their future development. I have no doubt it will outlive me and continue to provide pleasure and comfort by just being there and filling the skyline.

 

Nicola Folbigg, Forest School, Warley Woods – 

My favourite tree a beech tree at the top of Warley Woods near the entrance by Upper St Marys in Bearwood.

I love the beech trees of Warley Woods. This tree is one I see every day when I walk my dog. I’ve walked in this park since I moved to Bearwood over 10 years ago. Beech trees are grand and the colours throughout the season are beautiful.

It is calming and grounds you when you walk past this tree. I remember the fairy tale book my mum used to read to me, it had fairy tree houses amongst the Beech trees, so I’ve always loved looking up into the canopy. I could never tire of the woods and trees and my wonderful job which allows me to work in among the trees everyday as a forest school teacher.

Geoff Cole, Chairman of Birmingham Trees for Life and formerly Assistant Director, Parks, Sports & Events at Birmingham City Council  

I have seen amazing trees in amazing places, but my favourite tree is Betula Ermanii Polar Bear, (White Barked Birch) in my back garden. 10 years in my garden and it’s thriving. With it’s amazing white winter bark, large glossy green leaves and ‘Lamb’s Tail,’ catkins it’s the first tree I see every morning and the last tree I see each night. It reminds me of every changing season and is truly a thing of beauty.

 

Simon Gulliver, volunteer member and  horticulturalist and Gardens & Parks Consultant, National Trust –

I thought about this and then realised that a tree with a great story and one I love is the ‘dawn redwood’ at Birmingham Botanical Gardens. The scientific name for it is Metasequoia glyptostroboides – bit of a mouthful, but a grand name for a grand tree.

This species grew in Europe over 150 million years ago, but was unknown to science except as a fossil until it was discovered growing in a single valley in China in 1941 and introduced to Western cultivation in 1947. It was propagated and distributed around the world and so now it is here in England again growing on the main lawn at Birmingham Botanical Gardens. It is a beautiful deciduous conifer that colours a deep bronze in autumn.

The tree was probably planted in 1948 or 1949, but alas was located where the new Curator’s house was to be built (now the Study Centre) and so in 1960 it had to be moved “to a prominent position on the main lawn”. Showing a significant will to survive, the plant known in China as the ‘water fir’ is thriving on this dry sandy slope!

The seeds of the tree were sent to Britain from the Harvard University Arboretum – the Arnold Arboretum, and here is another connection with Birmingham. The famous plant hunter Ernest ‘Chinese’ Wilson began his career at Birmingham and eventually after many adventures became the Keeper of the Arnold Arboretum. He died tragically in a car crash and when eventually interred in the Mount Royal Cemetery in Canada a tree was chosen to be planted alongside his grave. They could have chosen many of his intorductions including the dove tree, but no, because he collected so many new plants for our gardens from China the latest tree to be discovered was chosen – and it was a dawn redwood.

So when I look at this tree I think about the vagaries of evolution, climate change and how it could so easily have become extinct, but also the way it connects us with the natural world through its beauty and also links plants and people with through its associations.

Ross McGuinness – My family were all born in Scotland (minus me and my older brother); so as a child I had many long car journeys between Bromsgrove and Dundee, passing through the Scottish Highlands. A key memory for me on these journeys is seeing a familiar type of tree once we crossed the Scottish border and got ever closer to Dundee. As a young child, my brother and I used to point out that we could see the ‘Dundee trees’ as we called them. Which is now a sarcastic joke as adults if we ever make the journey. The tree is actually the Douglas Fir.

The majestic Douglas fir is named after Scottish botanist and collector David Douglas who, in 1827, sent the first seed from North America back to Britain. Its botanical name – Pseudotsuga menziesii – commemorates Archibald Menzies, who discovered the tree in 1791.

It has a lifespan of 500-years and can grow up to 60-metres in Britain. It has soft needles with two grey bands underneath. The oval shaped cones hang downwards with a three point bract – a special type of leaf – on every scale. The Douglas fir’s bark is a reddish-brown, fissured and corky and it; native to British Columbia to California.

The Douglas Fir is the major timber species in its native North America, and its imported timber is sold here as ‘Oregon pine’. Originally grown in this country for ornamental purposes, it is now a valuable timber tree used for sawmill timber and paper pulp. Today the timber is used for construction work, high quality plywood and veneers, as well as for furniture and panelling.

 

Sophia Nasreisfahany, Project Manager BTfL – 

One of my favourite trees as a child was a weeping willow in the school field. The willow dropped all the way down to the ground so you could hide inside like a secret den. We often played running in and out of the leaves but I also loved this tree as it was a great place to find some quiet time. I would often take a book a sit under the tree hidden amongst the drooping vines where I could hide away from the world and get lost in a book. To this day weeping willows are still one of my favorite trees.

I also loved the cherry blossom trees from my junior school which lined the play ground and covered it with beautiful pink and white blossom each spring, I am sure I remember us using it as confetti when role playing on the playground pretending we were getting married and throwing handfuls of blossom in the air as confetti. Its amazing how children use their imagination to combine nature and play.

I can picture the willow tree perfectly in my head! Was a smallish tree and the vines used to droop all the way around to the floor like a curtain it was a great hiding place as a kid.

Tonia Clarke, Chair of Birmingham Tree People –

My favourite tree is the Grand Fir.   There are two in Sandwell Valley and I always smush the needles as I go passed.   I love that it smells of grapefruit!  The resin smells great as well and after smelling it I feel a bit healthier.  It must be the anti bacterial, anti fungal, anti viral volatile organic compounds getting into my lungs.  Just what I need this winter.

Nancy Nancy Evans, Director of Learning & Participation at BSCM –

It’s so difficult to choose – Sweet Chestnut, Cedar of Lebanon, Oak…, but, I’ve gone with beech because it looks so glorious, with or without leaves, all year round. And because of the beautiful beech wood in Warley Woods near my home which is like a natural cathedral.

 

Fiona Williams, BTfL Committee Member –

This is a cherry tree in our garden.  It was a wedding present given to us when David and I married 29 years and 4 months ago.  It is as strong as our marriage. We usually have a battle with a pair of pigeons on who is going to get the cherries first.  I usually win, to be fair the pigeons get some of the cherries, but I get the most!

 

 

 

Tamara Tempera, Marketing and Communication Manager at BCMG –

I’m fortunate enough to live next to a magnificent park in the North of Italy. Two years ago it was heavily damaged by the storm “Vaia”, which left hundreds of km of forests in the region to be restored. This Cedrus is one of the few who still stands tall in the park and every time I see its scars I cannot but admire its resilience.

After reading these we hope you think about your own tree memories and share them with your nearest and dearest. You could even share them with us at justine.marklew@btfl.org.uk

It’s clear that trees muster a million and one feelings and thoughts and as you travel around take time look and appreciate trees. Birmingham is a green city with 571 parks and public open green spaces and over a million trees. Think about each one of those trees needing a space to place it, planning, planting, maintenance and due care  and respect by every individual that walks or sits under it. brushes past it, stands for a moment to admire it, picks the fruit or leaves off it, brushes against it’s bark or treads on the acorns, pine cones, catkins, conkers and other seeds that fall from it. The shade it provides from heat or the cover it provides from rain.

Trees are a labour of love and love them we must and while we do that enjoy the moment a tree gives you – that moment of joy, relaxation, exhilaration, satisfaction, comfort, amazement and memory!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Talking Trees With The Autistic Gardener!

‘I’m a tree nut! Plain and simple.’ Says award winning Alan Gardner, better known through his successful television career in garden design as the Autistic Gardener on Channel 4.

Alan, a seasoned celebrity garden designer from Sutton Coldfield, has an encyclopaedic knowledge and enthusiasm for trees which is wonderful. Waxing lyrical about trees with Alan over a cup of tea on the phone is no better way for BTfL to spend a soggy Monday morning.

Alan, is married to Mandy and a dad of three grown up children, Deanna 20, Reiss 25 and Hayden,28. Alan has Asperger’s Syndrome. His love of horticulture started as a young boy when he began to understand the joy of growing plants, especially cacti. Understanding that there were thousands of plants to learn about, to grow and to nurture started an obsession with horticulture which, excuse the pun grew and grew.

Alan, just starting his career in horticulture

Determined to carve out a career in horticulture Alan began working at Birmingham Parks Department in the late 1970’s aged 16 where he began to perfect his craft. In 1986  he left the parks department to design gardens.

His career has seen Alan create 40 Royal Horticultural Society gardens and won numerous awards at Chelsea, Hampton Court and Tatton Park. The last award Alan won was a silver medal at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2015. His TV career began when he was approached by Channel 4 to present a garden design show in 2015.

In the show Alan re-designs gardens for neuro-typical clients with his five-strong team of trainees; all amateur gardening enthusiasts and all on the autistic spectrum with the programme emphasis on gardens, design and valuing individual differences and achievements.

‘Being autistic means I need to know everything about everything I’m interested in – there are no short measures.’ Alan explains.

‘I don’t call what I do a job, in fact I’ve never had a real job, I get paid for being me, getting to fly all over the world, design gardens, talk about gardens and autism is an absolute joy.’

But despite his high-flying career Alan’ feet are firmly on the ground and he enjoys supporting his local area and local community in their endevours to keep improving and maintaining their local environment to make it more biodiverse, beautiful, people friendly and community based.

Alan say: ‘I help a local community group in North Birmingham with John Porter of the parks department in Birmingham to plant in their local area to improve it, make it more diverse, wildlife friendly and more beautiful.

‘It makes the area look good and gives the local community a sense of pride in their environment and I am very much in support of them. It allows people ownership of something quite special.

‘When I started in Birmingham’s Parks department it was because horticulture and plants were of a very special interest to me.

‘Birmingham is one of the greenest cities in the country and I was propagator in charge of Birmingham’s tree nursery in Perry Barr. I’m glad I was a part of our city being so green.

‘There, we grew 12,500 trees, 123 different varieties to be planted in streets and parks in Birmingham.

‘Now years later I can go out for a walk and see an avenue of huge beautiful trees I grew them – it’s a lovely feeling.

‘Being autistic and having Asperger’s Syndrome means certain things draw my attention and I’ve always like things that are bigger than me including, cranes, electric pylon and trees.

‘The oak tree for example is a huge tree and has been here for a considerable amount of time. I’m fascinated by trees, how they got here, why some survive and some don’t.

‘Why some have so much colour and others show as short burst for a month and then are hardly noticeable for the rest of the year. An oak tree supports 200 types of insects while a Japanese Cherry will support virtually none.

‘Certain trees like cherries when in flower are beautiful breath-taking blossom trees, but any other time of the year you may walk past it and hardly notice them much at all.

‘Autumn colour are trees vying for attention, and they are so beautiful if we just take the time to look up and take note. I don’t believe we take enough notice of trees.

‘For me a visit to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens is an absolute joy. There are so many amazing trees to wonder at.

‘My favourite tree is Copper Beach which is over 200-yrs old in sits majestically in the Rose Garden. It is a beautiful specimen and the peacocks roost in it.

‘Redwoods too, I love to give Redwoods a hug. It’s like touching fibre glass and it’s a very cuddly tree. The Red Wood has a brilliant defence mechanism, that is the bark is fireproof – amazing trees!

‘Most of them planted in this country were planted at the same time as there was a bit of a craze for them.

‘Just like Monkey Puzzle Tree, you may notice them in the front gardens of Victorian house as people of that time were fascinated by them.

These are trees that were around at the same time as Dinosaurs – trees are quite amazing.  The semi-precious black coloured shiny stone Jet is the fossilized Monkey Puzzle Tree.

 

‘Trees are part of the glue that holds nature and our world together and as things feel like they are falling apart right now – we need more glue.

‘Planting and growing trees is a legacy that is very important and we must embrace them. I love trees and I was happy to come out with BTfL three years ago planting trees at Jones Wood in Sutton Coldfield.  It was a great morning, doing what I love to do, planting and soaking up the enthusiasm from the local community groups and schools that were also planting that day.

Alan with BtfL at Jones Wood

We need to plant the right trees, so people fall in love with then and stay in love with them. Street trees are wonderful, soften the hard edges. Developers need to plant the right tree and not just plant trees as a token gesture, clumping the wrong trees together without any thought.

In Cannock Chase there are lots of spruce and pine trees, they are good for the environment, but they aren’t great for wildlife and the ground is becoming sterile. But mixed woodland like Beech, Oak and Birch are great for the environment and biodiversity too. Planting these trees along with a good mix of native hedgerows is what we need more of and I understand BTfL is doing this year on year.

Alan working with school children at BTfL tree planting at Jones Wood

I’m happy to see a slow but very strong shift in interest in environment. I see it on a local level with more friends groups and friends of parks groups being organised and growing. There is a Friends Groups in Jones Wood that has emerged and is caring for the local environment encouraging wildlife, other plants and tree species and people.

The area was overrun by brambles and was killing off the beautiful bluebells. So the friends group got together, cleared the area of bramble and now it is a beautiful place to – just be!

You change things by giving it a sense of purpose like the wild area being looked after by locals at Jones Wood. Now people flock to it to enjoy everything this naturally beautiful place has to offer.

Our natural surroundings are so important and people are so preoccupied by just getting through life, not enough appreciating nature around them, although I think lockdown over the last few months has changed this. The slower pace of life has allowed everyone to appreciate their natural surroundings a lot more, so we are all connecting with nature on a deeper level, which makes us more like to invest in it.

I’ve travelled all over the world, New York, Texas, Los Angeles and have seen one side of America to the other. But in this country we have the finest trees in the world.

And for that we should feel very lucky!

A Wonderful Tree Themed Camera Obscura Workshop!

As part of our lockdown Summer engagement programme we worked with St Matthew’s Church of England School in Nechells, Birmingham on a Camera Obscura workshop. This was a fun workshop that enabled students to enjoy the practicalities of making the camera and then capturing images of trees and nature on their homemade camera’s.

We had worked with St Matthew’s Primary School back in February when we planted 10 trees in the local area. It was a lovely morning with children full of enthusiasm, curiosity, smiles and an impressive knowledge and understanding about trees so we couldn’t wait to revisit the school.

The workshop was run by Jo Gane, photographic practitioner and was funded by Matthew Murray Landscape Photographic Artist and Arts Council England and in collaboration with BTfL.

Jo’s specialist area of knowledge is the practice of early photographic processes and translating these difficult techniques into engaging hands-on workshop activities.

Matthew Murray is an award winning photographic artist working on an Arts Council of England project around the landscape of Arenig, North Wales.Matthew is working on an Arts Council of England project around the landscape of Arenig, North Wales.

As part of this project Matthew Murray developed an engagement programme working with artists, practitioners, charities and inner city schools, focusing on communities who may not have the opportunity to participate in these programmes in other circumstances.

Matthew Murray choose BTfL as the project he was interested in collaborating with because of our great environmental and community based work and we are very grateful for that.

Building small cardboard camera obscura is a simplistic, but magical way of understanding how light travels to project an image and a great way of exploring the world though a camera lens.

Camera Obscura is like the pinhole camera used in the 1800’s, camera obscura means, ‘dark chamber’ and is a photographic practice illustrating beautifully how photography is all about ways of capturing light.

In our fast-paced technological world where our phone cameras are an extension of our hands and are used to document every part of our lives, using images that can be manipulated until virtually unrecognisable from the original photograph – it was quite refreshing to go straight back to basics. Seventeen students from years five and six took part in the workshop over Zoom in two class bubbles, overseen by patient and hands on staff!

Running a school’s engagement workshop over Zoom was new to all of us. But within a couple of minutes we’ all settled in and listening intently to Jo’s instructions.

It was a proper Blue Peter inspired moment, as each student was given a cardboard box, masking tape, a lens and some tracing paper. It was clear at first the students weren’t convinced that a camera could be made from such simplistic bits and pieces.

But within half an hour we were well on the way to having the camera’s finished and ready to use.

Students and staff had worked exceptionally hard with Jo and produced their own camera to work with.

As Jo illustrated how to put the tracing paper in the cardboard box with the lens and the children and staff suddenly saw the magic of the images appearing in the box there was a joyous intake of breath and smiles all round.

     

 

It was a great opportunity for students to take their cameras and capture images all around school. The camera obscura works well when there is lots of good natural light, the only downside on that day was that it was a dull rainy day. But it didn’t stop students getting up and off around the school grounds using their camera to capture beautiful images.

The students then took their cameras home and no doubt shared the images with their friends and family capturing images of their home environment and all of nature around them, the flowers, the trees and the trees we planted with St Matthew’s Primary School last tree planting season!

If you would like to make a camera obscura, please click the link and watch the workshop online on BTfL’s YouTube channel.

Testimonial from Mrs. Tracey Adams, Deputy Headteacher at St Matthew’s Church of England School, Nechells, “The project to create pinhole cameras came at the right time, for St Matthew’s – a real ray of creativity during this new way of teaching  It was an opportunity for children (through zoom) to learn a new skill; interact with an expert and also to be inspired to explore the world of photography.  Our Year 5 and 6’s, and their teachers absolutely loved the experience.  We can’t praise this project enough, and want to thank Jo and Justine for getting us involved and Matthew Murray and Art Council England for funding it. 

 

If you capture images you would like to share, then please email them to justine.marklew@btfl.org.uk and we would love to showcase them on our social media channels.

If you would like to view the photographs taken during the workshop, please view, here 

We would like to say thank you to Jo Gane and Matthew Murray for making this happen.