Old Witney Road Playground has a brand-new hedgerow, funded by the Rotary Club of Eynsham and local residents.
Anyone seeing this hard metal picket fence could imagine how different it would look if it were softened by a biodiverse hedgerow. After many public consultations, permissions from the Powers-that-Be, generous offers of sponsorship from the Rotary Club of Eynsham and from local residents, then repeated delays due to the pandemic, it was with some relief that finally a finely-trained relay of hedge-planters from the Nature Recovery Network were able to set to work in January-February 2021.
The goal was to plant several hundred whips of traditional hedge types along the 120m length of the galvanised metal boundary fence of the Playground.
Wright Family Hedging
The hedge is double-rowed and is designed to be fun for children and a significant new habitat for many different kinds of wildlife. It was planted by a relay of Nature Recoverers, performing solo, duo, and in family ‘bubbles’ during the Third English Lockdown. In addition the Beavers have sown tree seeds in pots, so once they have grown sufficiently, and the lock-downs are finally over, they will be planting them into the new hedge.
Chris Baker beavers away
By creating a double row of trees, the hedge will be wonderfully deep for nesting birds, small mammals and insects. The back row contains trees such and hawthorn and dogwood, as well as beautiful wild roses, whose berries and tangled growth are fantastic for wildlife. In the front, is a protective row of smooth species including crab apples, and hazel nuts – good for feasting on by everyone. At intervals we hope to plant oaks that have been propagated from locally-gathered acorns. Oaks are particularly good habitats for animals of all shapes and sizes, as well as being a host for a host of lichens.
Rebekah Key snapped in action by Martin Mulligan
Martin Mulligan (and Furry Friend) snapped by Rebekah Key
Notes for Nature Study-ers: Did you know that over 2,000 species of animal have been found in a single hedge? Bumblebees feed on pollen and nectar in the hedgerow flowers. Birds nest in the branches and feed their young on insects caught in grassy margins. They shelter from the weather, hide from predators and use the hedge’s top-most branches as song-posts. Berries from the hedges provide their food in winter. Small mammals such as mice and voles and hedgehogs also make their homes under the protective cover of hedges.
Srilakshmi Sharma It was so cold that her camera froze (so here she is at last summer's botanical survey workshop looking much warmer)
Huge, huge thanks to the Rotary Club of Eynsham who generously funded the hedging plants as part of Eynsham's Nature Recovery Network, and to Eynsham's local organisers and experts (David Haynes and Robin Saunders in particular) and to Ross Macken and other parish councillors who helped work out the plan. Huge thanks, of course, to the relay of soloists, duoists, and 'bubbles' who planted it over the freezing weekends of the end of January and beginning of February.
"We had a lovely sunny time planting today" Catherine Atherstone snapped by Anna Atherstone
The trees were bought from Murray Maclean, a local grower from Frilford, who supplied the trees along Oxford Road to Julia and Jim Loken, 50 years ago. NRN's policy of buying locally grown stock is to support small local suppliers and reduce transport miles and also to avoid hybridisation of local native species.
Linda Wisheart digs it!
The planting was meant to be the most communal of community activities - planting a hedge for the playground children. Last autumn, the Beavers planted tree seeds for it and so did the Primary School, supported by Judy and Don Reid of Dovehouse Close. The Rotary Club promised their members for planting, other members of the Nature Recovery Network worked with the Parish Council on logistics and public consultation and (this being the year of tree-planting) the trees were ordered well in advance. It was supposed to be the community planting celebration of the winter.
A Star with a reasonably-priced tree guard. Ros Kent test-drives the new carboard guards.
Photo: Paparazzi La Vanga
When Covid lock-down struck again, David Haynes who masterminded the purchase and planting, 'heeled in' the trees in his veg patch hoping for a let-up in February.
With no let-up and hedgerow trees beginning to sprout, we scrutinised 'the Rules', worked-out a risk assessment and came up with 'a planting for local exercise Plan' either individually or by household.
Whips of traditional hedgerow trees heeled-in.
David Haynes: co-ordinator, buyer, heeler in extraordinaire, devisor of 'cunning planting relay' and tutor. Ably assisted by Tim Geatches (who did most of David's planting and took the photo). THANK YOU BOTH!
In the sleet and snow, the Hedgerow Heroes set out, with their own spades and a camera for selfies.
Gill Parry hedging her bets with half a furlong to go. Snapped by
Paparazzi Robin 'La Vanga' Saunders
Fifteen minutes of distanced instruction to one member of each household was provided by David Haynes of Acre End Street, and Robin Saunders of the Evenlode DIY. Robin is probably the most experienced of Eynsham's tree-planters, having planted over 1000 trees around the village with Dave Russell during the last 40 years. Robin donated stakes for the hedge from the Evenlode DIY. David Haynes, Nicky Chambers and Ross Macken sponsored the tree guards. These include our pioneering cardboard eco-guards that we are trialling for the first time, in the hope that they will be as effective as plastic.
The legendary 'La Vanga' of Evenlode DIY fleetingly filmed in flagrante by Gill Parry.
Roll-on next autumn when we can join the Beavers for a communal celebration of their hedgerow tree planting!