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Monday, 28 March 2011

Tree Planting (OK "stick" planting!)...

On first arrival Orkney seems treeless but there are quite a few trees and even ancient woodland. You just need to know where to look as they hunker down in valleys and other sheltered spots. Some are very hardy and cling to cliff edges too.

Anyway today I did my bit for bringing some more trees into the landscape with a planting day in my field behind the house. My friend, Jenny, who is project officer for the Orkney Woodland Project, came over to help plant, along with another friend, Fiona.  Fortunately, given the task and the poor weather, we were also aided and abetted by my neighbours, Sandra, and her young children, Becky, Katie and James. Another neighbour, Arthur, helped prepare the ground prior to planting by spraying with "roundup" weedkiller, and strimming some of the old grass. He had arrived earlier today too and kindly lent his super-Strimmer, some stakes, and sharpened spades.  So we were all set for a busy afternoon.....

It doesn't look much in the photos, but in a few years time there should be a nice cluster of birch, rowan, ash, willow, and my pride - an Aspen!  Aspens are rare in Orkney, and when planted are noted on a grid to be followed up in years to come.  Hopefully my solitary Aspen will grow strong (they are very robust trees) and throw out suckers and eventually there will be a small grove of Aspens!

The corner of the field is quite close to the shore, but all these trees are of known provenance and are of Orkney stock so are robust versions of their species.  In addition we mulch matted them to help protect them from being overgrown, and create a "micro-climate" for them.  No tree guards were needed as there are no rabbits on the island. So.... I look forward to watching my wee patch of "sticks" grow!

The first tree planted

The working party

Trying to cut up the mulch matting (plastic) in the wind was a challenge

It's a very tiring activity for a wee boy.... a snooze among the willows is called for

The tired workers (I just "supervised" and provided tea and chocolate...).  Well done everyone!


  1. Oh, lovely, Sian! Must show this to DH who is a tree fanatic and keeps filling our back field in Wales with new tree seedlings - willow, ash, silver birch, hazel and Norway maple. Some are for coppicing for firewood and others for shelter.

    One of the things my sister found hardest to adapt to in Orkney was the lack of trees, so it's lovely to think of the native varieties being planted.

    One of the things my sister

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  3. Aspens could do well up there. We had them around us in northern Sweden, a few hundred miles South of the Polar Circle. They seemed capable of surviving the extremes there, so might be as good with you. They are rather lovely....good luck.

  4. Can't wait to see the Graemsay Forest!

  5. What a beautiful little copse of mixed woodland you will have in years to come! All beautiful trees and, as you say, if they are of Orkney stock they should 'do' all right. We lost a few saplings over this past hard winter but they were just wusses from further south. ;)

    Planting trees is an act of optimism, I always think. Future islanders will bless you for it.

  6. Stromness Academy is adopting a deckchair to decorate for the Cromer and Sheringham Crab and Lobster Festival!

    As is walrus.

    Good luck with the trees.

  7. Perpetua - one advantage of lack of trees is wonderful long low vistas - so there ARE compensations. But I do miss the sound of the breeze rustling leaves.....

    yeractual - Brrr yes Aspens MUST be very hardy from what you say. We do have some growing in Orkney and there is a scheme to plant more (hence mine).....

    MaryZ - well it may take a while to really *look* like a forest but it's good to know it's on it's way ;-)

    DancingBeastie - At least they are all fairly fast growing species - I'm very impatient and want to see them full grown NOW!

    Walrus - how cool is THAT?! I didn't know! Good luck to you too with your decorated deckchair- hope you will post photos??

  8. We shall be posting photos early next week ......

  9. Hello I'm giving you a wave from my little patch which looks out to yours! I found you via alot of 'scottish blogs!' ironically we've more than a few things (and people!) in common! Just wanted to say hello! And, I am familiar with the tree planting piroette :) I helped with Happy Valley on sunday!

    Yay to forests!

  10. Hi Fay! I found YOUR blog via facebook but haven't had a chance to say hi before. Yes we have lots in common though I'm not sure we've actually *met* yet! Am green with envy at your polytunnel......

  11. This is really an engaging activity! Engaging yourselves in an environmental awareness activity is really an act that should be shared with others. It is a good deed indeed for many of us inhabitants of the planet earth. I hope lots of people will mirror this act and also share it to youngsters.

  12. Thank you so much for your comments! The trees are doing well, growing slowly but generally surviving the harsh weather!