Sunday, 29 October 2017

Sidmouth Civic Arboretum - celebrating five years

The Arboretum has been active over the summer:
Futures Forum: Sidmouth Civic Arboretum - summer newsletter

And so into the autumn and winter...

This is the piece from this month's 'Resident' magazine from the Herald:


27th October 2017

SIDMOUTH ARBORETUM is celebrating 5th anniversary – originating from a Chamber of Commerce idea, the Arboretum was officially ‘adopted’ on 10 May 2012. Sidmouth Arboretum will be a civic arboretum for the entire Sid Valley:
  • a celebration of our tree heritage
  • a commitment to plant more trees for future generations
  • a determination to improve the visual welcome

Later in 2012 The Arboretum planted a colourful maple Acer rubrum ‘Brandywine’ in Long Park, under the guidance of dendrologist Hugh Angus, formerly of Westonbirt, the National Arboretum and Cllr Stuart Hughes. 

This was joined in 2014 by a silver maple, donated by Chris Wale and M to mark their silver wedding anniversary. Trees are a long term project – both these maples are doing well in Long Park and show the importance of planting Right tree, Right place.

We have begun to record our veteran (old and interesting) trees, such as the gingko and dawn redwood in private gardens on Sidmount/Elysian Fields, or the oak teetering on the edge of the Sid river near Margarets Meadow, and the Cork oak at Sidbury.

In 2014 we undertook the iTree survey on a valley wide basis. This was a huge undertaking of volunteers who were trained and guided by Kenton Rogers of Treeconomics, and we had the treat of gaining access to some wonderful landscapes and private woods further up the valley. This work is on-going as we have not managed to extract a full report, but should repeat the process in 2024 to really understand the range and changes to our landscape which will be enjoyed by future generations.

We have begun to record our veteran (old and interesting) trees, such as the gingko and dawn redwood in private gardens on Sidmount/Elysian Fields, or the oak teetering on the edge of the Sid river near Margarets Meadow, and the Cork oak at Sidbury.

With the help of Rotary, through Sandy McFadyen, we have involved children in planting trees. One year we created the group of shrubs and trees on the triangle opposite Waitrose on East Devon DC land. Then we work with land owners – gaining permission from Highways to plant on the Sid Road, from the Town Council on various sites, from the District Council on the Knowle for instance. Not to mention a planting of unusual fruit trees in a sheltered corner in anticipation of warmer summers. A hawthorn in Market Place, Wollemi pine in the garden of Belmont Hotel where we occasionally visit on guided walks. A lime in Knowle parkland, a mulberry on Knapp Copse.

At the January 2017 AGM Jon Ball became chairman of Sidmouth Civic Arboretum.

"I read Environmental Science at university and have had an interest in environmental issues throughout my working life. I am now semi-retired and as a result have more time to give to these interests. I am a volunteer for the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme, participate in conservation work for EDDC on their reserves and became involved with the Arboretum through the tree survey carried out a few years ago.

"Trees have always been important to me, being such an integral part of the scenery in the Sid valley. Trees are very important to the landscape, to our well being and in keeping the atmosphere clean. Sidmouth has a wonderful tree heritage which the Arboretum is seeking to maintain by good maintenance and new planting. Getting the message over about trees to the local population, particularly the children, is key to making the Arboretum a success."

This year we introduced a new children’s event, which took place at Sidholme Hotel gardens. The year 5 children had a great day out – learning about leaf shapes, and touching the bark of different trees – a great success to be repeated in 2018. Kevin Croucher of Thornhayes Nursery has generously led walks in Sidbury and this year in Sidmouth, where Powys invited us into their lovely grounds on the corner of Station Road.

The Tree Trail leaflets – which have been a feature of the Arboretum work since its inception – are to be relaunched this autumn. The Sid Vale Association Keith Owen Fund have been a major sponsor of these leaflets, which are distributed free by volunteers; and offer circular walks in Sidmouth, Sidbury and Salcombe Regis – with special attention paid to the trees of course.!

The visual welcome must be maintained whether through the good work of Sidmouth In Bloom, or in private gardens or public spaces. Young trees need to be planted to replace the aging Monterey pines so characteristic of the urban roof line, and self-sown sycamore that sometimes invade.

This winter further planting will take place and a maintenance programme organised to include monthly work parties. With a strengthened committee the Arboretum will attend more events – meet us at Science Festival on October …. 

And pop in to Kennaway House on 24 November for the annual Celebration of Trees – music and gifts and fun with trees.

Sidmouth and Ottery breaking news and sport - Sidmouth Herald

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