Fife and Kinross
The Tree Group is not a formal committee, but a
group of about 25 active volunteers, at present coordinated by Paul
Blackburn (4 Whinfield Place, Newport on Tay; tel: 01382 542826;
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). The group's two main aims are to
rear and plant native trees and hedgerow shrubs. (In the rest of this
document, "trees" will denote both trees and shrubs.)
We gather seed locally and germinate it in our
own gardens, transferring the seedlings to the nursery after a year.
Another source of stock is self-sown seedlings, as long as we are
reasonably sure of their provenance. The nursery (approx. 20yds x
10yds) is in a corner of the walled garden at Hill of Tarvit, near
Ceres. The walled garden is not open to the public, and we are grateful
to the National Trust of Scotland for generously allowing us the use of
this plot. The trees generally have one or two years in the nursery.
The nursery receives attention once a week. Pairs
of volunteers take turns to look after the trees. Each pair puts in
three maintenance sessions in the season (from mid-April to
mid-October). A session typically lasts between one and two hours.
Maintenance involves three things: hoeing or otherwise cultivating
between the rows, keeping weeds from round the stems of the trees;
checking that the plants are free of mildew or insect pests; and
checking the condition of the fence and gate.
In the late winter, there is some extra activity,
restocking and tidying up the nursery.
When they are ready to be planted, the trees are
supplied as bare-root whips. We have generally supplied between 450 and
900 trees each year, though we are aiming to keep it at the top end of
the range in future. In most cases, we do the planting as well. If
stakes, tubes or fencing are needed, it is the recipient's
responsibility to provide them.
There are usually five or six planting sessions
during the winter, with a team of anything between six and a dozen
volunteers each time. Typically, the trees are used for small woods on
land unsuitable for cultivation, or for hedges, or for groups or rows
of trees along burns, tracks or field margins.
Who gets the trees?
Mostly local farmers or landowners, but anyone
with property where a few trees would benefit wildlife. We have also
worked with Fife Community Services. Sometimes we have supplied a
couple of dozen trees to an individual recipient, sometimes 700. The
people we supply may hear about us from SWT members or on some other
grapevine; sometimes they are put in touch with us by the local FWAG
We are a small operation, and obviously cannot
provide material for major afforestation. But there are plenty of
people seeking to plant on our kind of scale, and anyone thinking of
such a project is very welcome to contact Paul Blackburn in the late
summer or early autumn before planting, which normally takes place
between late November and late February.
As a group of volunteer amateurs, we do not
operate on a commercial basis - the main thing is to get more trees
into the Fife and Kinross landscape. We do, however, appreciate a
donation to the SWT in exchange for the trees and labour.
We have recently been asked to supply and plant
several hedges over the next few years. While wanting to keep our broad
spread of species, we do want to concentrate for the next three or four
years on rearing larger quantities of hedgerow stock than hitherto.
How you can help
Anyone who fancies their hand at rearing
hedgerow (and/or woodland) species is urged to have a go. You can grow
dozens of seedlings in a small space in your garden, and they can then
either be transferred to the nursery or planted out (in a slightly less
small space!) in nursery rows in the garden. For some species, a
certain amount of patience is needed: dogrose and hawthorn, for
example, won't germinate for 18 months.
For notes on rearing from seed please click here.
And for the latest news about the Tree Group click here.
Anyone interested in helping with nursery
maintenance and/or planting is welcome to contact Paul Blackburn.
The work is a satisfying hands-on way of
promoting wildlife in Fife and Kinross. It would also be good to hear
from anyone who has a suitable corner in their garden which we could if
necessary use as auxiliary nursery space.