The Friends of West Hunsbury Parks were given just over 400 young, slender, unbranched ‘bare root’ saplings (known as ‘whips’) by the Wildlife Trust last Autumn, for planting as an understorey in our Bluebell Wood.
An understorey is made up of trees and shrubs which grow to be beneath the overstorey (or canopy) of the tall trees such as the ash that we have in the Bluebell Wood, and above the undergrowth of brambles, bluebells and the like. They therefore provide good nesting potential for many birds and insects.
The whips we were given are all shade loving trees, such as hawthorn, hazel, crab apple, downy birch and goat willow and are therefore ideal for our Bluebell Wood.
We gave about half of the whips to Hunsbury Park Primary School for them to plant out as they wish as part of their Forest School curriculum, while Friends Gaynor & Phil ‘heeled in’ the rest in their garden to keep them safe and healthy until we were able to get them planted out.
We asked idverde to help with the planting out of the Friends quota of whips, which was done on Thursday 18th February. Each whip was supported by a bamboo cane and protected with a spiral tube protector made from recycled materials. These tubes allow the saplings to grow without strangulation while protecting them from rabbits, squirrels, etc., and will start to break down through photo degradation after about 4 years.
Thank you to idverde for the help in arranging this and doing the actual planting and, of course, thank you to the Wildlife Trust for giving us the plants in the first place.
We look forward to seeing how the understorey develops over the next few years, but in the meantime the snowdrops are out and the bluebells are sprouting, so please keep to the established paths when walking round the Bluebell Wood.
We’ve put more photos on our Facebook page.