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Young Trees and New Volunteers

Rather wet yesterday in Bathing House Wood, but with 7 of us we were able to complete the positioning of the mulch mats around the young oak trees planted in March by Donibristle P7 pupils and cleared by a group of 5, mostly new volunteers on Thursday in rather better weather.Thanks to Blair’s watering during the long dry spell that followed the planting, these young trees have thrived. The oaks and the Mulch mats bought with a grant from Shell are shown in the slide show below.

Sunday 8th November was also an opportunity to do a bit of the clearing work around the trees planted in 2015. An appropriate day for this work as these were planted in remembrance of the soldiers who fell in WW1, an initiative of the Woodland Trust who donated the trees. Bathing House Wood in WW1 was where several different units were stationed as part of the defences of the Forth and its important ship anchorages. The locations of the soldier’s accommodation and other buildings are shown on the map drawn for us by historian Gordon Barclay from original 1914-15 plans of the disposition of defences in this area. At that time only the few scattered very large trees are large enough to have been there then and the woods would have been busy with soldiers doing daily duties as they wondered if they would be needed to fight in earnest each day.

As a reminder of the planting in March 2015, I have added a few photos of the planting day when we were very pleased to welcome some existing and past members of the Royal Artillery, organised by Colonel Jim Kinloch, Honorary Colonel of the 105th Regiment Royal Artillery, who came to take part in the activities that day and thrilled the Donibristle Primary children by bringing a field artillery piece, a 105mm light gun. These photos ar in the slide show below

As on the previous Thursday, when this work started, it was good to have several of our new volunteers working alongside us as well as some of our regular volunteers. The appeal in the Diary and on Social Media has certainly produced an excellent response and it was especially good to share the work over the two work sessions with newcomers to the group. The scattered positions of the trees made it easy for us to work at a distance as individuals or family groups while still providing opportunities for a pleasant chat.

Planting trees in gaps in an existing wood is always going to present problems, especially in competition for rainfall from the bigger well established trees. When planted in 2015 the trees were all little more than rooted sticks with a height of around 30cm.Today, some of the trees, especially Rowan and Hazel, have already reached between 2 and 3 m in height and some of the Rowan have already flowered and produced a few berries, though all had gone by yesterday. This means they are already contributing a few berries to the autumn food needs of Blackbirds and other berry eaters like the Redwings that have come over from Scandinavia to seek winter food where the weather is a little warmer.

All that growth has only been made possible by volunteers with our group, mostly Blair Law, carrying water for each of the trees in response to long dry springs that seem to have become a frequent feature of our weather in the past few years. This work has also benefited the oaks planted this spring and they too look well settled now. Some of the young 2015 planted trees are now of a size that they will be able to fend for themselves as their root systems will be well established, and we can look forward to seeing more growth on all the planted trees.


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