Browsing Tag



15,000 Free Trees! Will You Find Love Among Them?

February 20, 2015

15,000 Free Trees - Will You Find Love In Them?

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.

15,000 Free Trees! Will You Find Love In Them?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.

Free Trees! Will You Find Love Under Them?

Hawthorn Blossom In Springtime

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.

Free Trees! Will You Find Love Under ThemNative 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.”

15,000 Free Trees! Will You Find Love In Them?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.

15,000 Free Trees! Will You Find Love In Them?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 ♥


There’s a new boy in town called Dieback of Ash & it’s bought old memories flooding back

October 29, 2012

Dieback of Ash Disease – Image courtesy of

I’m veering away from my usual vegetable mutterings as I’ve recently been catching alerts about a new fungal disease that’s devastating the ash tree world called Chalara fraxinea, or more commonly known as dieback of ash disease … and it’s not good news at all.

How many of you are old enough to remember Dutch Elm disease? When I was growing up there was an avenue of beautiful old elms that lined the roadway on the long walk to the school bus. Every day we passed the elms, not giving them much thought other than the fact they were always there, come rain, hail or shine.

Elm trees

Elms: Image courtesy of

We’d kick our way through the fallen leaves in the autumn and shelter from rain showers in the summer months when caught out by sudden downpours.

Then all the elms were gone.

I’m not sure when it happened exactly, just that one day they were there, then they weren’t. We noticed the elms then, or rather the complete lack of them. The long line of trees that we’d taken for granted were no more. Instead, miles of ploughed, flat, East Anglian fields opened up to the side of us and we were completely exposed to all the weather systems that were thrown at us on that long school trudge.

I still remember my sense of loss for the elms and not just for the sheltering protection they gave us. I missed their beauty. It was perhaps the first time that I became aware of how cruel nature could be, and in particular the devastating impact a small little beetle could not only have on an entire species of tree, but for all the insects that had made their homes there and depended upon it. I wonder how many of those were lost too.

dieback of ash - chalara

Dieback of Ash Disease – Image courtesy of

And now it’s happening again. Ash trees across Europe are dying in their hundreds of thousands and all we can do is hope that the disease can be halted. In fact it’s up to each and every one of us to try to do just that. It’s been reported that Denmark has already lost 60 to 90% of its ash population to Chalara, a new fungal disease that was first spotted in Poland in 1992. News that it’s been found in a plantation in Co Leitrim may have terrible consequences – not only for our countryside but farmers and business (such as hurley makers) that depend upon ash for their livelihoods.

How do we recognise dieback of ash disease?

The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera) in the UK have published an excellent video that explains the symptoms well – even to those who don’t understand the terms they’ve used to describe the leaves, stems etc should be able to identify the disease based on this description.

What do we do if we think we spot dieback of ash disease in a tree?

Firstly don’t do anything hasty – it’s important that the disease is correctly identified before we go around cutting and burning every ash in sight. Initially we are being asked to report any sitings where there are concerns about unusual ill-health to the Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine by email or by phoning 01 6072651.

In the meantime all imports of ash have been banned though given that this disease can be spread by the wind it may already be too late.

Whatever happens, do keep an eye on your local ash trees, do alert your friends and neighbours to this disease if they haven’t already heard about it and don’t become complacent.

I for one would hate to think that my children may grow up never seeing an ash tree in their garden, field or hedgerow, or be able to shelter from the elements under a small cluster of them as they currently do on their own wait for the school bus.

How to Identify Ash Dieback Disease

Healthy ash trees at Halloween – it’s difficult to distinguish unhealthy trees without closer inspection once the leaves have dropped in the winter months