This spring we have completed two tree identification days for schools.
The first was for St Johns school in Sidmouth at Sidholme hotel for 30 pupils, using the same format as last year for the primary school.
The second, as part the Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) week at Newton Poppleford school, a day for the whole school in their own grounds. It is very rewarding to be able get the message to the next generation about how important and interesting trees are.
Tree week April 16th -April 21st
The tree week was very successful and we are already planning another for 2019 based on the same walk and talk format. However we are going to move the week back to May to allow a bit more leaf and blossom to come out. We did not anticipate the lateness of spring, although everything seems to growing very fast now.
The latest Woodland Trust magazine “Broadleaf” features an article by one of our speakers, Jill Butler, selecting her favourite ancient oak trees. Unfortunately none of them are within easy reach of Sidmouth the nearest being in Sussex.
Great Oaks and Little Acorns by Ed Dolphin
Thanks to Victorian and Edwardian landowners, Sidmouth has many mature trees and the Park and Gardens around Knowle in Station Road are home to some of the finest and well worth a visit.
This month I want to introduce the oak trees in Knowle. There are approximately 600 different Oak species and Knowle is home to six of them: English, Sessile, Turkey, Red, Pin and Holm Oaks.
Holm Oaks are easiest to pick out because they are evergreen, with dark green leathery leaves that look a bit like bay leaves. Leaves on young Holm Oaks have small prickles, hence the scientific name Quercus ilex, which means Holly Oak. There is a magnificent pair of Holm Oaks in the Lawns area of the Byes and a large one in Powys which faces you as you walk out of Knowle Drive onto Station Road.
There are several English Oaks in Knowle ranging in age up to about 200 years old. One of two native species, the English Oak is a haven for wildlife from nesting birds to leaf-eating caterpillars. The leaves are the classic lobed oak tree shape on very short stalks. A distinguishing feature is that usually there are two small lobes pointing back down the stalk. The English Oak has an alternative name, the Pedunculate Oak, because its acorns are carried on stalks.
The other native species is the Sessile Oak. Sessile means without a stalk and this refers to the acorns which, unlike the English Oak, are produced very close to the twig. However, the leaves have longer stalks than those of their Pedunculate cousins, also they do not have the small backward pointing lobes at their base. Sessile Oaks are much rarer than English Oaks and the only one I can find in Knowle is a youngster aged about 50-70 years that stands by Balfour Lodge.
The largest tree of any type in Knowle is a huge Turkey Oak that stands inside the double gates on Station Road near the concrete base once used for the Folk Festival. At a height of thirty-four metres (110 feet) and with a trunk diameter of nearly two metres, this tree is about 250 years old. I defy anyone to stand under this majestic canopy and not to have a sense of awe. There is a smaller one which has very interesting, deeply cut leaves in the shrubbery behind the large Monterey Pine in the garden of Knowle. Turkey Oaks can be distinguished by their acorns which take eighteen months to mature and have a hairy cup. Unfortunately, the Turkey Oak is host to a gall wasp whose larvae damage the acorns of native British oaks.
On the western side of the park and walk car park is a large Red Oak. It is called a Red Oak because, in its native North America, its large leaves with their pointed lobes turn a glorious red in autumn. Disappointingly, they tend to just go rusty brown in the UK climate, but this is still a substantial tree. There are several younger ones around the park.
The sixth species of Oak in Knowle is the Pin or Spanish Swamp Oak. This has very deeply cut leaves which put on a good show of autumn colour. There are two beside the large Red Oak, another at the top of the large bank facing Station Road, and a third is struggling amid the brambles and rhododendrons as you enter the gardens at the southern end of Knowle Drive.
You can find out more about the trees in Knowle on this website and the Arboretum’s Sidmouth Town Trail leaflet takes you through Knowle.
In The Byes with Kevin Croucher
TREE WEEK 16-21 APRIL had an excellent turn out for Ed Dolphin’s talk on the Global Treescape of the Sid Valley, and Jill Butler gave us some fascinating details about ancient and veteran trees.
Saturday 21ST April was the last day of the 2018 TREE WEEK and offered a chance to pop into parks and gardens for a brief introduction to specific trees. Our grateful thanks to BRADLEYS estate agent for sponsoring the leaflet.
On Friday 20th April a large group enjoyed a sunny and fun walk around the Byes led by Kevin Croucher, of Thornhayes Nursery. The enthusiastic group members asked lots of questions so we learnt a bit of history of how woodland establishes and also about how old trees hollow out but keep growing, like the sweet chestnut in the Byes.
Our grateful thanks to the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust for sponsoring this week.
MEET THE TREES
Exploring among the trees at Sidholme.
Chairman Jon Ball leads a group around Sidholme.
Under the Monterey Pines at Sidholme.
Salcombe Regis Tree Walk 16th April 2018
Gathered at the Salcombe Hill viewpoint.
View from the Frog Stone
Towards Salcombe Regis
A Jolly band of tree afficionados essayed the Salcombe Regis Tree Walk, ably led by Jon Ball
Tips for April and May
After the cold, wet weather at the end of February, any new planting in March will have had a set back, so check the stakes and ties on trees, and check shrubs for wind rock when the gales of March, if they arrive, have shaken the roots of the shrub. It is usually sufficient to firm the soil with your boot.
Hedges can be shaped and made bushier by taking secateurs to the middle twigs, this should encourage new shoots to fill the middle of a hedge. Late flowering shrubs such as buddleia and hydrangea can be pruned back, hard in the case of buddleia and for hydrangea take out a few of the older stems to ground level and prune back the tips to a strong pair of buds to keep a tidy shape.
The excitement of spring is blossom: apples and pears should lighten our days, and of course hawthorn will blossom in May. To get the best from your fruit trees check out Thornhayes Nursery www.thornhayes-nursery.co.uk/index.php?page=tree-advice
for pruning guide lines and local courses and for planning your autumn planting now!Diana East
'Step change' needed to create more woodland
A parliamentary report shows (see BBC report
) that planting woodland is not happening fast enough to meet the target of 12% woodland cover 2060.Jon Ball
We need to plant more trees.
Countryfile 02 Apr 2017
BBC Countryfile devoted much of its episode on Sunday 2nd April to the state of commercial forestry. The general trend of the coverage was that the UK needs to be planting far more trees than we have in the last few years. If you missed it then you catch up on the BBC iPlayer.Ed Dolphin
SCHOOL EVENT at SIDHOLME
Countryfile 02 Apr 2017
Building on the routing of the Sidmouth arboretum town walk through Sidholme, we were able to secure the use of Sidholme's grounds and the music room to set up a tree identification challenge for the children of year 5 at Sidmouth School. Ed Dolphin our treasurer designed the task, which posed a series of yes/ no questions to the children enabling them to identify 8 trees. The weather was lovely and the walk to and from the school gave us a further opportunity to discuss other trees along the route. All in all this was a very successful day for which many thanks to the staff of Sidholme who made us so welcome.
We have been doing more work in Sidholme and have identified 24 species of trees that we hope to make into a leaflet for the site alone. This is being done in conjunction with the The Friends of Sidholme Garden and Sidmouth in Bloom. Tree identification achieved excellent results and the event is likely to be repeated next spring.Diana East