At Thames Valley Landscapes, we do our best to work in harmony with the environment and to carry out our landscaping work in a sustainable manner. So, we were excited to undertake a new initiative of donating trees to local schools to help promote an understanding of environmental issues. Who knows, we may have even inspired some Greta Thunberg’s of the future. We hope so.
Taking trees to schools
So, this February we packed our spades and headed off to:
- Furze Platt Juniors
- Furze Platt Seniors
- Courthouse Junior School, Maidenhead
- Europa School, Culham
- Cookham Dean Primary School
Our mission – to plant our three donated trees at each school to raise awareness of their benefits to the environment and the role they play in reducing our carbon footprint.
The trees we planted were specifically chosen for their benefit to wildlife, being known pollution busters or just simply for creating a stunning display. These included:
Acer Campestre (field maple)
This is the UK’s only native maple and is known for resisting air pollution. A compact rounded tree, this maple has broad 5-lobed leaves that turn a rich golden yellow in autumn. Its leaves are home to caterpillars and aphids which in turn attract their natural predators further up the food chain. While its flowers are a valuable source of nectar and pollen for birds and bees.
Prunus Pink Perfection (flowering cherry tree)
A pretty, deciduous tree this cherry has a compact crown of ascending branches which are adorned with beautiful double dusky pink blossoms in late April and early May. At the same time as flowering, young bronze leaves start to unfurl, which later turn green and then develop orange-red tints come autumn. A wonderful choice for any school as children especially love the cloud of pink it produces when in full bloom.
Betula Pendula (silver birch)
A stalwart of many a home and woodland, the silver birch is a firm favourite throughout much of the UK. Perhaps best known for its silver-white peeling bark, this tree forms an elegant light canopy with slightly drooping branches. Helping to renew and purify land, the silver birch also provides food and habitat for over 300 insect species. While fungi like the fly agaric, birch milk cap and chanterelle grow amongst it roots. Birds such as woodpeckers and birds are known to nest in holes in its trunk.
Learning through doing
But it wasn’t about just about planting the trees and leaving with no interaction. We wanted to get the pupils actively engaged in the act of planting and caring for the trees. Something that the pupils showed lots of enthusiasm for.
When we arrived, they helped us to dig holes deep enough for the trees. Before placing trees in the hole and packing soil firmly around the root ball to make sure it would stay nice and stable. We then finished by adding organic soil on top and a final layer of mulch for a tidy finish and to help with water retention.
Involving the students in the process of planting we were able to engage in conversations around the benefits of trees and inspire a healthy interest in caring for the wider environment.