Inspiring Tomorrow’s Green Heroes

on 22nd March 2022

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.

Benefits of tree planting 

Planting trees in school grounds is a great idea which brings benefits not just to the school itself, but also to the wider community. 

  • Tree planting is fun activity that gets children out of the classroom and stimulated by being outdoors.
  • The physical act of planting and caring for trees naturally brings about learning that links with many areas of the national curriculum.  
  • Wildlife attracted to the trees helps inspire a love for nature at an early age. Pupils will develop a respect for the natural word and for this care to become second nature throughout the rest of their lives.
  • Planting trees throughout school grounds provides an enriched environment for learning. When surrounded by green spaces, pupils learn better and tend to enjoy better physical and mental well-being.
  • The trees planted help absorb carbon dioxide (one of the main causes of climate change) and clean the air we breathe.
  • Trees planted today become a legacy for the pupils of tomorrow. Small saplings will one day turn into favourite trees for generations of future students to enjoy.

Want to plant trees at your school?

If you’re inspired to plant some trees or hedging, and have suitable available space, there’s never a better time to start than now.

To help you get underway we’ve rounded up a couple of the best tree planting initiatives currently available for schools. 

The Woodland Trust

To tie in with the Queen’s Green Canopy initiative, to ‘Plant a Tree for the Jubilee’, the Woodland Trust are giving away over three million saplings in tree packs available to schools and communities. The next round of saplings are available for delivery November 2022, with applications for packs opening 4 April 2022.

The Queen’s Green Canopy https://queensgreencanopy.org/

Free Trees For Schools https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/plant-trees/schools-and-communities/

The Tree Council

Similarly, the Tree Council is supporting schools to plant an orchard.  They’re giving away free orchard trees or fruiting hedgerow packs to inspire pupils to get outdoors and connect, learn, plant and care for trees. Teachers will also receive a set of resources linked to the national curriculum to help pupils engage and learn from the project.

Orchards for schools: https://treecouncil.org.uk/schools-and-education/orchards-for-schools/

Good luck to our newly planted trees

We’d like to say a huge thank you to all the schools who took part in our tree planting project. We were so impressed by the enthusiasm of the pupils, and willingness to get their hands dirty with the planting.

Enjoy your trees, look after them well, and please let us know how they get on in the future. We hope they bring the whole school many years of pleasure.

Good luck and all the best from the whole team at Thames Valley Landscapes.

Inspiring Tomorrow’s Green Heroes

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