The Wildflowers and the Champion Tree

This was an event of two halves, beginning at the wildflower beds on the top field and finishing by the Champion tree, the variegated oak.  Both areas needed attention and a fine gang of volunteers turned up to do the job.

The wildflower beds had been beautiful earlier in the year but now it was time for a bit of a clear-up to remove the stalks and dead leaves so that the ground would remain poorly fertilised and would not encourage grass growth.

Instead, all the seeds and remaining roots from this year would have a good chance of growing and flourishing again next spring.

The volunteers did a sterling job of cutting the last few stalks and raking the debris while avoiding the biennials such as teasel which were scattered all over the site.

But this was only half the plan for the day.

There is a Champion Tree in Childwall Woods and it isn’t looking very healthy. It’s a Variegated oak, one of only 68 of this species in Britain, and the fourteenth largest of them all.

The Champion Tree before the intervention.

However, it is getting choked by rhododendrons and the path is too close to its roots. We can’t lose this tree so the plan was to give it some space.

Rhododendrons are highly toxic to other plants and we had been advised by experts that they would be stunting the growth of the Variegated oak.  The path running over its roots was compacting the earth so that the mycorrhizal fungal network in the soil, which plays an essential role in tree nutrition, could not reach the tree.

The beautiful creamy variegated leaves on the tree didn’t do well this year.  It was a sign that action was needed.

The overgrown area behind it was pushed back and rhododendrons cut.

The path was rerouted to give the tree a wide birth and a small dry hedge was created to help walkers stay on the new path.  

It was incredible how quickly this intervention began to take shape, everyone worked so hard. Old dead stumps of rhododendron and long overgrown branches of holly were removed to give headroom for the new path.  Heavy work followed by raking and tidying up but it was worth it.

Then there was the regular reward for our hard work. Thank you again Jeanette for your delicious jam and cream scones. Nothing better after a job well done than one of Jeanette’s scones and a chat with lovely people.

Thank you to all the volunteers for making this possible.
What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.


Trustees Present

John McCombs   – Chair

Andrew Weighill  – Membership Secretary – Event lead

Pam Leadbeater – Vice Chair

David Howatson – Treasurer

Brenda Cameron – Secretary – Event Lead – Author

Photographs – Andrew Weighill, John McCombs, Pam Leadbeater and Brenda Cameron

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