Reprinted from Newsletter 103, dated 2002 April

Planting a thousand imaginative trees

Ian Rands

A poplar tree seen at sunset against a countryside background. It is tall and has a very asymmetrical look, with branches pointing both up and down.
Rare: a mature black poplar.

This winter we accepted the challenge of planting more than a thousand trees and shrubs out at Barton St David on the land by the house of Bob Burns (Burns the Bread), who is a member of our society.

There are three groups of trees, each in the corners farthest from the house:

The job includes two hedges:

Next winter we will fill in any gaps with honeysuckle and snowberry. Already the spindle leaves and berries are showing.

Winter tree-planting report

We turned out twelve times, usually in good weather, and worked at five different sites: Dunstan’s Dyke, Watchwell Drove, along the River Brue by Cow Bridge, East Pennard and Barton St David. Twenty-three persons put in a combined total of 79 appearances, making about 240 person-hours.

To turn out so conscientiously deserves one’s name in lights. So may I offer a heartfelt thanks to all these good folk: five members of the Carmen family, two Fears, Adrian Pearse with Caroline from the USA, father and son Bell, Lud and Cathy van den Bosch, our chairman and secretary and treasurer, Andrew Bond, Keith Matthews, John Morland, Joe Keers, Richard Raynsford, Joe Joseph, Bob Burns, Martin Webb, Ave Reiter, Caharlie Parsons from the newly formed Street Society, and your correspondent.

We put in 1,710 trees and shrubs, bringing the grand total since Glastonbury Conservation Society was founded to 29,002.

Black poplars (continued)

You will remember, no doubt, the article in the last newsletter about the saving of black poplars at Clyce Hole. The Advanced Training Unit removed the old metal guards, after which John Brunsdon pruned the trees. On a windy day Keith Matthews and I went to the site and salvaged 40 quite good pitchers — not for maidens to gather water but for us to propagate the trees. For those who don’t know about these matters, and I was one when I first came to Somerset, it is possible to make a tree grow from a part of a branch stuck in the ground — especially the wet trees like willow and poplar and to some extent alder.

Anyway, back to the pitchers, which in western Somerset are sometimes called truncheons. Cut lengths of four or five feet from branches about the thickness of your thumb and sharpen the lower ends in the shape of a screwdriver. Make a hole in the ground to one third of the length of the pitcher, push down the pitcher and stamp it in snug. It will grow.

To protect an orchard from the north wind

A couple of years ago we planted up an orchard at East Pennard for Alardus and Cathy (Turnbull) van den Bosch, stalwart members of Glastonbury Conservation Society and faithful planters of trees for other people when our gang goes out.

This winter we planted 70 yards of hedge to protect the apple trees.

Now if you want to come by a hedge, the best way is to ask your friends if they can help. And they did:

Add some friendly folk with spades and you have a very good hedge. Thank you, donors.

A satisfied customer

Many members and other readers of our newsletter will remember Gerry Andrews, who used to work in the countryside department at County Hall. He advised and helped us at the times of our work on the Wearyall Hill project and its extension, and most of all on the cedar avenue at Butleigh when we won those competitions organized by the Civic Trust. In a Christmas card he wrote:

Thank you very much for continuing to send the GCS newsletter. I always read it from cover to cover.