Planted out with our own fair hands. It may not look much now but it is part of a 70th Jubilee project, the Queen’s Green Canopy, to plant a million trees across Britain in the queen’s name during the jubilee year. Since tree planting cannot happen during summer months, the project has extended its deadline to March 2023 – which is why we were at it last week.
Hampstead’s contribution to the project is to plant young oak trees out lining the old field boundary running from the woods across beneath the tumulus – it can be seen on some of the ordinance survey maps from the mid 19th century. The red dots on the map below are not accurate but they will give you an idea. I think there are about ten trees to go in in total.
Last Wednesday we Heath Hand-ers were up in the Orchard Garden having yet another go at the brambles when three of us were offered the chance to go and help the rangers plant the trees. So, Margaret, Jess and I headed off across the frozen heath.
The rangers were already hard at work..
It is a humbling business, planting trees with a ranger. They kindly take you to your tree planting spot to mark out the hole you need to cut into the turf – and they ‘get you started’. OK, so it is not knife through butter stuff, but knife through cheddar cheese?
But when you try…. Far from cutting through the turf as their spade does, yours just bounces back. Only with a great deal of sweat and application of foot can you get it even a few inches into the ground. I could try blaming the freezing conditions but, to be honest, the sun had been on it for about four hours at that point and the top layer at least was relatively soft.
We did soldier on but as you can see, it was slow going…..
Eventually our hole was deemed deep enough and the experts moved in again. Here is our tree being staked, having already been tucked up in lovely layers of compost – and soon to be fenced in. Little though the rangers like doing this (it somehow looks all wrong on the heath) they have to do it with young trees to protect them – mainly from dogs.
And one day – long after we are all long gone – maybe it will look like this….
If you would like to get involved in the Queen’s Green Canopy project you still have till time as the scheme has been extended to the end of March. You can either gift a tree to be planted in a school or a deprived urban area – or you can plant one yourself. If you want to do that, go to this section of the Canopy website where you will find lots of suggestions and instructions.
And here are Her Maj. and Prince Charles planting the first tree in the grounds of Windsor Castle in March 2021 – although I can’t say that either of them look too thrilled about the project. Maybe there was a terrible wind blowing…..