By Grant Jenkins, The Tree Company
Its just arriving — the longed for spring season; we have had a relatively dry winter and our West Cork gardens are not too boggy, winter gardening projects have been easier to keep up with and the last of our tree planting is just about done with lots of positive vibes in the air.
March 21 is the ‘International Day of Forests’, as designated by the United Nations, it is truly a global observance and governments, community organisations and the great general public are urged to promote the importance of forests and trees in our lives. Deforestation is still happening at an astonishing rate and the UN has called for us to reflect on this and other tree issues on this special date each year.
The giving and planting of a spring flowering tree is a lovely way to celebrate the season and the ‘Day of Forests’ and have a meaningful message of hope and joy as the ephemeral beauty of the blossoming boughs can never fail to lift the spirits and this gift should last for many years without costing much more than a bouquet of cut flowers.
Damsons, Apples, Cherries and Sloes all sound like an autumnal harvest but for some of us its their showy spring display of pretty pink or white petals and their sweet scent that fortifies our sense of well being far more than the fruits some produce, as we emerge from winter doldrums and nature’s decorations weave their cheering spell by simply displaying their energy to all.
A single cherry tree can be an explosion of blousy, vivid pink, which will flutter and nod, eventually drifting and dissolving away and its impact is dramatic though sadly short lived. With careful selection and if there is space in your garden, a longer period of blossoming interest is possible and there is a good range of these flowering trees to choose from, both ornamental and productive that will cheer from mid winter through to summer. It is usually the cherry (prunus) varieties that show first and then the apples (malus) and with so many varieties of these two tree species to choose from alone, a continuous display can be planned quite easily.
Of course most trees are flowering at this time though some of their flowers or catkins are not ‘significant’ however swinging gaily along the roads and lanes you’ll see thousands of jolly pale green or yellow catkins hanging from the willows and tentative bees will start to venture. Fat buds will burst out soon from the other trees and their tender bright green leaves denude our scenery and I encourage you to touch the baby leaves and feel their newness, I can never resist.
Someone who might have felt the same was Oliver Rackham, who sadly died in February this year aged 75, he was a most fervent passionate man with amazing insight and knowledge of our forests and who has influenced and inspired so many of us through his enriching array of study notes and books. He had a crucial impact on a whole generation’s ideas about woodlands, landscape, ecology, and history. He knew, firsthand, how woods worked, and that oak for example had been part of a different culture of woodmanship, based on natural regeneration, not industrial planting. He researched ancient texts, which proved wrong many of the ‘hand me down’ ideas of more recent histories about our landscapes, he was a singularly diligent researcher, as well as a great man in the field and his methods were thorough and enlightening. “Oliver Rackham’s woods weren’t abstract entities; they were symbiotic networks of carpenters, beetles, deer, land-thieves, lichens, pollards, surveyors and toadstools” — he has added so much to our knowledge base, his impact has been dramatic and not long lived enough. It is up to all of us to continue to share the mantle of responsibility to encourage furthering our understanding of our woodlands, hedgerows and trees for they are vital to our environment, vital to us all.
We can commemorate Oliver Rackham and his work whilst observing The United Nations ‘International Days of the Forest’, which suggests activities should include: tree planting campaigns, photo exhibits that portray the importance of forests and trees, and sharing infographics, videos, news and messages via social and other media. (This is a very late date in our part of the world to plant trees so do try to plant your trees early March at the latest when some trees are still in a fairly dormant winter state.) These are all great positive things to do and I hope we can all keep spreading the message throughout the years not just on one day each spring.
Enjoy natures’ confetti under the flowering trees of spring, add to them and may Oliver Rackham Rest In Peace.
If you need any further information regarding this article or indeed any other tree matters please get in touch with us at The Tree Company, Ballydehob, Co Cork or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office on 028 37630. You can also keep up with our news on our facebook page.