St Andrew’s Floral Guernsey Bloomers plant trees at Les Vauxbelets estate with the help of Blanchelande College students

March 23rd, 2011 by Richard Lord

Gill Thwaite, co-ordinator for St. Andrew’s Floral Guernsey, organised a planting of trees on Les Vauxbelets estate with the St. Andrew’s Bloomers, Andrew McCutcheon of the States of Guernsey Environment Department, and Blanchelande College Year 5 Students on 23 March 2011.

The field on Les Vauxbelets Estate from across the valley where the St. Andrew Bloomers prepare to plant trees (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

The trees were planted on a steep, south facing slope at the request of a farmer to prevent cattle grazing the area, and to enhance the field’s biodiversity.   A large pile of wood chips donated by Chris Stonebridge of Treevolution tree surgeons, was delivered to the site and planting began at 10 am.

The trees were provided free by the RHS and Woodland Trust scheme to mark the launch of the RHS 2011 Britain in Bloom campaign during the weekend of 26 and 27 March.

Dogwood, hawthorn, cherry, alder, birch, rowan and walnut were supplied.  Myrtle was also brought but it was thought to be inappropriate to the site because it is a garden species in Guernsey and spreads rapidly.

Charlie of the St. Andrew's Bloomers prepares the ground for tree planting (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

The steepness of the hill required a small area around the planted tree to be made level.  A small berm of soil was built on the downhill side of the planting hole so that rainwater could collect around the planted tree.

Blanchelande College Year 5 students arrived to help with the tree planting.  Andrew McCutcheon instructed them on the correct way to plant a tree.  The girls loved the experience and were excited to plant a walnut tree so close to their school.

Blanchelande College year 5 students point enthusiastically to the walnut tree they planted (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

The young trees and whips were planted two to three metres apart.  Some hawthorn whips were planted as pairs because their roots were entwined.  Andrew McCutcheon said that there was some advantage to planting trees close together on windswept sites.  “It’s probably better on wind swept sites to plant them close enough together so they afford each other some degree of protection,” he said.

Tree Warden co-ordinator and Principal Environment Services Officer, Andrew McCutcheon, advises the St. Andrew's Bloomers about the tree planting at Les Vauxbelets estate (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Andrew McCutcheon said it was the last opportunity before the summer to plant trees because the soil would become dry.  The young trees needed to be watered regularly during the coming months to ensure their survival although the whips because of their small size would be less vulnerable.

Water was collected from a stream flowing down the centre of the valley.

The trees were watered from a stream running down the middle of the valley (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Andrew McCutcheon commented that the soil on the site lacked organic matter because it had grass growing on it for hundreds of years but the planted trees would improve the soil structure by adding humus to it.  The trees would absorb carbon from the atmosphere and turn it into growth and also add carbon to the content of the soil. The soil had a high portion of silt and was claggy when watered.

Andrew McCutcheon uses rubber bands to secure the young trees to posts (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

The whips and young trees were staked because of the wind blowing down the valley and they were placed in plastic tubes to protect them from rabbits.

The St. Andrew Bloomers responsible for the tree planting at Les Vauxbelets Estate on 23 March 2011 (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

After two hours of hard work in the warm March sunshine sixty young trees and whips and been planted in neat rows.

Work almost done - the trees planted in neat rows on the south-east corner of the field (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

The Blanchelande College students said they would remember the day and would enjoy seeing the trees grow year after year.

Blanchelande College year 5 students enjoyed their outing to plant trees with the St. Andrew's Bloomers (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

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