The Queen's trees


‘Free tree’, said the notice on social media. ‘Your final chance’. I had been wondering about this. I heard the news last year in the Queen’s Jubilee. Plant a tree for the Platinum Jubilee. We were all to have a tree to plant but where was it? Well, suddenly it was here. Last Wednesday we were invited to collect our free tree from the marketplace. There has been an extension of the scheme by King Charles to the end of this month. March is really the last month to plant the trees before the growing season starts.

‘First come, first served,’ said the notice, so we set off early, but we could not find the trees. Then suddenly there was the stall with a blue and white awning and a big queue already waiting. We joined the queue in time honoured tradition.

You could choose a tree from a selection of species. The man in front of me chose hazel.

“You will not get any nuts,” I said, “the squirrels will get them first.”

“I like squirrels,” he answered undaunted. “And in any case, I like the catkins.”

I chose a wild cherry.

“You won’t get any cherries,” said the man, “the birds will get them first!”

I chose wild cherry because many years ago my late father saved tree coupons for me from his tobacco packets.

“Trees are the lungs of the nation,” he said as he puffed away on his pipe, obviously not thinking of his own lungs. When he had saved enough coupons, he gave them to me and I swapped them for a wild cherry tree from the tobacco company. It grew into a strong sturdy tree.

“I knew it would be good,” said Dad, “because their baccy is good.”

But recently this, now very old, tree lost branches and began to die. So, our Queen’s tree will replace it.

Our new tree was wrapped in newspaper and we were given a leaflet about the Green Canopy with instructions on how to plant it. We were also given a luggage tag where we had to write our postcode. We hung it on a nearby street tree. Our code will eventually go on a map to show where one million trees have been planted.

Our sapling was only about two foot tall, but it has a very healthy root system and we put it in our orchard where we can keep an eye on it. I will enjoy watching the birds eating the fruit.

The other good news is that there is frog spawn in our Oak Meadow pond. I know I announce it every year but each time it happens it brings such hope.

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)

One in a million

Our wild cherry tree from the Queen


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