The great tree giveaway
It may sound a little like Nero fiddling while Rome burns, or rather Cornwall floods, but as drops in the ocean go this might just help. As we gaze out on a country that is looking closer to the flood-ravaged countries of the developing world than the green and pleasant garden of England, it seems impossible that we will ever be able to get out there gardening again. But once the water levels have subsided, the sandbags removed, the soggy carpets binned, the insurance forms filled in and electricity and sanity restored, it might be time to plant a few trees.
The Woodland Trust has half a million to give away – they’re not huge, you understand, but little saplings designed to be planted en masse to form a hedgerow, copse or dingly dell. It’s not the first time they have done this. When I was a keen-bean volunteering mum I helped out at our children’s school gardening club and spent many a happy Friday lunchtime planting what appeared to be a never-ending supply of saplings from the Woodland Trust.
We created a hedge along the front of the school and in the outdoor classroom – once little more than a patch of rampant brambles and grot hewn out of the railway embankment that borders the back of the school – and transformed it into a mini-amphitheatre classroom surrounded by its own pond, complete with frogspawn, greenhouse, mini-beast sanctuary and ladybird hotel.
Now the Woodland Trust have more trees to give away and are inviting schools, Brownie and Scout troops, community groups and anyone with a patch of public or communally used land to apply for a free pack of trees. They come in their dozens and the packs are themed. You can choose from wild harvest, wildlife, wetland, working wood and wild wood. Be warned, this is not a project for the faint-hearted – you will need plenty of volunteers, space and spades to make good use of them, not to mention a tea and cake stall to keep the workers happy.
But the rewards to come are worth it – not only will you have a splash of greenery and blossom to look forward to when spring finally arrives, but you will be doing your bit against global warming and flood prevention. Full-grown trees are better than sandbags at sucking up water and their root systems break down soil and make it easier to absorb water.
To find out more and apply for your free pack, click here. The deadline for applications is 4 September – and don’t forget your wellies.
Posted by Amanda Blinkhorn