As the tree planting season is from autumn to early spring, last week we held our last outdoor planting event until next autumn. The event was a collaboration between the Garden House and St Dominic’s School, both in Hambeldon, south west Surrey. The Garden House is a sustainable land use project with a focus on wildlife, education, therapeutic and community benefit. St Dominic’s School specialises in the education of children with autism.

We planted a hedgerow. Hedgerows are often a mix of shrub and tree species. You see them criss-crossing the countryside, long rows of bushes dividing up farmland and landscapes. Hedgerows are used as barriers to prevent livestock from escaping fields or to form boundaries between different landowners’ land. In addition, they are really helpful for wildlife. Older hedgerows support an amazing diversity of plants and animals, providing wildlife a home and food. Butterflies, dormice, bank voles, harvest mice, hedgehogs, bats and birds all benefit. They also prevent soil erosion and store carbon to help combat climate change so they are fantastic for the environment too.

We planted several different tree species:

  • Cherry Plum, which has an early white blossom, and yellow or red cherry like fruits which birds eat.
  • Hawthorn, a deciduous native, also known as a May tree because it flowers in May. The flowers are highly scented usually white, sometimes pink. They produce red fruits called Haw which are eaten by migrating birds such as thrushes, and small mammals. The dense thorny foliage makes it good for nesting.
  • Blackthorn, whose wood has been used for walking sticks and riding sticks. It flowers early which is so good for bees, usually white flowers in March and April. it produces berries in autumn which provide food for birds who like to nest in the dense foliage.
  • Beech, which can live for hundreds of years, and can grow to 40 meters. Beech are identified by the shape of their wavy edged pointy leaves and smooth bark.
  • Dogrose, which weaves in and out of other shrubs to support itself while it grows, flowers in May and June large pink or white petals with a faint sweet smell, fruits in September and October which blackbirds like to eat.

In all we planted 75 saplings to form the hedge that will benefit hedgehogs, birds, butterflies, dormice and other lovely critters, as well as the environment itself. It was a beautiful sunny day and everyone got stuck in, loving doing something outdoors for the good of our wonderful planet.

Left to right: Andy from the Garden House, teachers from St Dominic’s including Richard, one of our forest school leaders, Francesca from Roots for the Future and Guy from the Godalming Round Table. For safeguarding reasons we weren’t able to photograph the pupils from the school.

This workshop was made possible by a grant from the Postcode Lottery and funding from the Godalming Round Table.