At the moment we are blessed to have a wonderful, big garden. We’ve been working hard since we moved in (just over a year ago) to manage the space with an oikos approach – thinking of our local wildlife (our feathered neighbours), pollinators, biodiversity, soil health, growing our own food, making a space where many can find joy and life. I will probably share more about this in future blog posts – particularly our wildflower meadow, which we are especially thrilled with [this ‘meadow’ isn’t as big as the name suggests – only about 100 square metres – but it is every bit as beautiful and exciting as the name suggests].
But for today I want to share about our trees.
When we moved in there were already a few mature trees in the garden – an apple tree, plum tree, ash, hawthorn and cherry. There is also a good chunk of dense hedgerow, which the sparrows love. We had a leylandii hedge removed – it had grown far too tall, was blocking light and water from a big patch of the garden, and was only really much good for a couple of pigeons. In it’s place we planted a mixed native hedgerow, which is still growing in (will probably take 3-5 years) but once it has matured it will offer much more to the local wildlife – berries, flowers, nesting sites and cover. We love it already.
Just last week we added 3 more trees to our garden: a willow (for beauty, and for the bees – a Kilmarnock Willow so it won’t grow too big), a Pear (to add to our fruit tree orchard), and a Sorbus Glendoick Spire (like a Rowan – the garden centre label describes this as ‘a natural bird feeder’). It was SO exciting!
We started the day with a tape measure in the garden, checking once more just how many trees we could fit in and where they would go. We have been talking about what trees we would like to add to the space for a while – dreaming and scheming and researching. On the walk down to the garden centre we still hadn’t fully decided, and kept changing our minds even while we were there – had to take a break for a cuppa to finalise the plan. Then we picked them out, paid for them, and left them in the hands of the friendly delivery person (free local deliveries when you spend enough – we certainly did!). I hadn’t planned to plant them out that afternoon, but the delivery man got here in good time and the sun was shining so… My first time planting trees, and a very satisfying afternoon! I put two of them in while Joanne went to get the children from school/nursery, but saved the third for when they got back. It was such a precious moment to carefully tease out the roots of our plum tree together, settle it into the hole, fill the soil in and press it down. We all joined in with this moment of deep connection – blessing our small piece of land with new life, and being deeply blessed in return. We even named our tree: Alan (as in Alan Partridge, because it is a pear tree – you follow?).
While bedding our new trees in I also cut back the grass around a little plum sapling that has self-seeded in the lawn, and put some wood chip around it to keep the weeds down. A brand new tree growing for free, all on its own – and all I had to do to make this happen was let part of the lawn grow up for the year (not just laziness, part of the wilding plan). Sheer grace.
[images – left the plum sapling earlier this year, and right now in it’s winter attire with the parent tree in the background]
The Woodland Trust says that “Trees are essential for people, wildlife and the environment.” Our small contribution won’t fix the climate crisis, but it will help. It won’t patch up the gaps in habitat for insects, birds and other small animals, but it will help. It won’t create a forest, but it will add to our small grove. Perhaps you don’t have space to plant a tree – perhaps not even enough room (or permission!) to grow a tree in a pot. But I bet you have room for a window box… What could you grow, and be grown by, as you press your finger tips into the good earth? David Benjamin Blower encourages us all to “Put your hands in the soil” in his song The Soil – you won’t regret taking 4 minutes to listen.
If all goes well then even by next summer the bees will be visiting new flowers, the birds settling on growing branches, insects will be exploring new territory, and we will be sitting under the shade of green leaves. Peace is when we can all thrive together.