Eynsham's Witney Road playground has a new double row hedge, which is designed to be fun for children and an important refuge for wildlife. It has been planted by a relay of solo Eynsham volunteers and family ‘bubbles’, during lock-down 2021. The Beavers have sown tree seeds in pots - once they have grown sufficiently, and the lock-downs are ended, they will be planting them into the hedge.
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 will be planting oaks that will be left to grow tall. These have been grown from local acorns.
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.
Huge thanks to the Eynsham Rotary Club who kindly 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 solo volunteers and 'bubbles' who planted it over the freezing weekends of the end of January and beginning of February.
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 not only to support small local suppliers and reduce transport miles but also to avoid hybridisation of local native species.
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 volunteer 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.
When Covid lock-down struck again, David Haynes who has masterminded the purchase and planting, 'heeled in' the trees in his veg patch hoping for a let-up in Feb. 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 exercise plan' either individually or by household.
In the sleet and snow, the hedgerow heroes set out, with their own spades and a camera for selfies.
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 has donated fence posts for the hedge from the Evenlode DIY. David Haynes, Nicky Chambers and Ross Macken have 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.
Roll on next autumn when we can join the Beavers for a communal celebration of their hedgerow trees!
Open the PDF to see the planting in pictures.