Catherine Stephens-Ward, Arts Officer Sustrans Cymru
Despite the wet and windy November weather we had a fantastic time tree planting with pupils and teachers from Maesteg Comprehensive School. Together with artist Jony Easterby and Guy O’Donnell, Arts Officer at Bridgend Council we managed to plant over 2,000 trees! Well done everybody!
Over 200 children participated over the two days, and Jony was brilliant at engaging everyone, imparting his knowledge of the variety of plant species and planting techniques! A wide range of trees and shrubs were planted, all carefully chosen by Jony to attract biodiversity and encourage the development of natural habitats while complimenting existing ones.
Recent storms had made the ground very soft and muddy, so the digging was easier than I had expected. As we dug down further we discovered coal deposits, black sticky bitumen a reminder of the site’s mining history. I helped to plant betula pubescens, more commonly known as downy birches each supported by a charred oak post.
Pools of water had formed around some of the saplings so I helped Jony to fill in the pools to avoid the roots rotting. We antcipate that not all the trees will take, so Jony has accounted for this by planting more than is needed. After all the pupils had participated and they left for the day, I could not resist staying for longer to help plant a hedgerow, which will eventually flank the wetlands.
I can’t wait to see how the trees mature and develop and the subsequent wildlife they will attract. In spring time Jony will be putting the finishing touches to the project by sowing wildflower seed amongst the existing scrub. Imagine how colourful this once barren landscape will look then! *Photographs by Mission Photography.