Do you love trees? It’ll soon be national tree week and reading about the event sent my thoughts spiraling backwards.
Finding Love Among Trees
I met a tree man who later became my husband, Mr G, at a craft beer festival 19 years ago. He was working as an assistant Arboriculturalist in the Parks Department for Bury St Edmunds Council in Suffolk and I can’t deny that I was initially attracted by his long hair, piercing blue eyes, rugby playing physique and his GSX750. When I learnt he was a nature lover too, the attraction increased ten fold. Ian’s work at the Council included designing planting schemes for amenity trees as well as advising contractors where they could and couldn’t dig their trenches. He worked alongside the planning department advising them about the city’s conservation area and heritage trees and he was a passionate protector of ancient trees and wildlife.
During those early months, our dates often took place in woodlands where, as we strolled along meandering paths, Ian taught me about leaf shapes and bark patterns. Conversation often included trees and how he remembered the unfamiliar Latin names by abbreviating them. Crataegus monogyna became “crat mon” (Hawthorn) and Taxus baccata became “tax back” (Yew). Little did I know that I would be applying similar techniques to learn the Latin names for plants when I studied horticulture as a mature student.
One of my favourite memories of those early days is when we camped out in the middle of the New Forest in Hampshire in a two-man tent. We were cocooned for a week in a clearing close to a spot where sunlight beamed down on picnic benches, its rays catching the tiny petals of wild orchids, making them sparkle. We were surrounded by moss-covered ancient oaks and beech lined lanes that week, and it was there that we fell in love.
National Tree Week
Do You ♥ Trees is the title of this year’s National Tree Week that will be taking place from the 1st to 8th March and it’s difficult not to want to hug and thank every old tree for those memories.
During Tree Week The Tree Council of Ireland are suggesting we use the opportunity to sponsor, plant, hug, talk or simply walk among trees – to think about them or simply be among them.
The launch of the event that’s being sponsored by the ESB, will take place in Castletown House in Co Kildare on 1st March where the Tree Council will be giving away over 2,000 trees and 15,000 during the week thanks to Coillte. On the day they’re promising activities for children, woodturners, Beekeepers, lectures, walks, talks and laughs about trees.
Pollinators Love Trees
It seems timely that I should discover tree week now, having just returned from the launch of the draft Pollinator Plan at the Biodiversity Centre in Waterford. Over 90 of us listened to enthusiastic experts from Ireland and Northern Ireland share their knowledge and experience in the hope that we can do something to help and protect Ireland’s pollinators.
We learnt many things on the day, including how vital trees are to bees emerging from their winter slumber and how important it is for us to let trees flower, not to prune them back. Some of the first flowers bees feed on include the blossom of hawthorn and sycamore (as well as other hedgerow flowers such as blackthorn, blackberries and dandelions) and without them, pollinators might starve and die.
Native Irish Trees
I find the history of trees quite fascinating and was interested to learn what made Irish trees native. According to the Tree Council:
“Around 12,000 years ago, Ireland was covered in snow and ice. This was known as the Ice Age. As the weather became warmer, the snow and ice melted and trees began to grow. The seeds of trees such as hazel and oak were brought here by birds and animals, across the land bridges from Britain and the rest of Europe. The seeds of other trees, such as willow and birch, are so light that they were blown here by the wind.
Eventually, the seas rose, the land bridges were flooded and Ireland became an island. Our native trees are the trees that reached here before we were separated from the rest of Europe. Our most common native trees include oak, ash, hazel, birch, Scots pine, rowan and willow. Eventually, people brought other trees, such as beech, sycamore, horse chestnut, spruce, larch and fir to Ireland.”
Free Trees for Communities
During national tree week, the Tree Council will be sending county councils trees to give out to different community and school projects so please get in touch if you’d like to plant some. Trees will be given out on Monday, 2nd March at the Botanic Gardens in Dublin where there will also be a free tree lecture and on Tuesday more trees will be given away in Mullingar at The Downs GAA club at 10.30 am where all are welcome.
There’s so much to love about trees. Will you do anything to recognise Tree Week? It might be worth visiting your local garden centre and choosing a favourite tree to plant in your garden, take a walk in a local woodland, or take up the Tree Council’s offer and plant lots of trees.
Whatever you do, take a moment to notice the trees around you and reflect. They really are wondrous organisms worthy of our care and attention and not something to take for granted as we rush by them on our day-to-day business ♥