Shade of the Canopy

Earth Day at Weoley Castle 2024

Happy Earth Day!

Tonia Clark, BTP Chair, Lawrence Weston our newest Trustee, and Julianne Statham, Trustee for Treemembrance, attended the Earth Day celebrations (and Earth Month throughout April) at Weoley Castle again this year, on Saturday 20th April (for Earth Day on 22nd April).

To celebrate Earth Month and Day, many groups and activists from in and around Birmingham attended the celebration in Weoley Castle Square, to draw attention the importance of our planet, with a focus on removing plastics this year. Do you have any tips on reusing or recycling plastics in your household?

The weather was rather lovely, and was made brighter by extra helping hands belonging to Rachel, one of our urban forest volunteers! We talked to many people about what we do at BTP, encouraging people to become part of their urban forest, as well as many educational leaflets and display items. We want to thank the organisers at Weoley Castle for organising another great Earth Day celebration!

Spring Event at Martineau Gardens

Steve Watson (Trustee) is also a member of Martineau Gardens, that’s why he and Katy Hawkins, our Engagement Officer, attended their Spring festivities on the 20th April. On a bright, sunny day, hordes of people from all over Birmingham and beyond enjoyed a jamboree of events, including Morris Dancing, bands, and fete games.

The many stalls were diverse, presenting offers from well-being support to tree orientated displays from BTP. Katy provided some talks and helped arrange arts and crafts. Kids could colour in tree cookies, which proved very popular, and adults enjoy learning about tree rings, tree cones, and cerebral books.

Thank you to Martineau for providing space for us amongst the fantastic volunteer groups that attended, and for a wonderful Spring day.

Watering Cans

Watering cans arts and crafts session at the POD

We held another creative arts and crafts session at Nechells POD this Wednesday 17th, decorating watering cans to promote the aftercare and watering of the newly planted local trees.

Katy Hawkins, Engagement Officer, hosted this with a theme in mind: each of the three tables were dedicated to one of the new tree species on Bloomsbury Road, Hop Hornbeam, Sweet Gum, and American Ash. The children decorated their cans with these as prompts, using the wooden letters and acrylic pens to write their names and drawings on the white and green cans.

BTP want to encourage community ownership of trees, so once the watering cans were completed, the group set off down the road to visit the trees in question and give them some TLC. We all took turns to water the trees, explaining why we use watering bags (do you know what benefits they have?), and trying not to get caught in the water fight in the sunshine!

Thank you to Nechells POD for working with us again to create a wonderful, artistic session, bringing nature and our youth together, ensuring the lasting care of the community-planted trees around Nechells.

Now that it’s Springtime, water the trees please!

Tree Inspection

Ian McDermott took the L2 Arboriculture class out, for their final session on Tree Inspection, on Saturday 13th April. He hosted the class in Handsworth Park, where the Sons of Rest has recently received a new tribute mural to a prominent Birmingham figure, painted by Bunny Bread. The memorial was revealed the following day in a spectacular unveiling that was well-attended, by our Chair and many members of local friend groups and councillors and family and children and all alike – celebrating the life and legacy of one of Brum’s most iconic poets and dub musicians, artist and activist, roots and nature advocate, Benjamin Zephaniah.

The memorial unveiling came a day before his birthday – happy birthday Benjamin, may you rest in peace, and be remembered.

Street Tree Survey: Nechells

Nina Griffiths, BTP Trustee for Street Trees, held another survey session on Sunday 7th April. Not allowing Storm Kathleen to blow in and ruin our entire day, Nina and the other surveyors came for the morning session and surveyed the 10 trees in the area that were on the list (there were more, but a couple were absent, and another replanted, which is recorded using TreePlotter).

When the volunteers had some trouble locating certain trees (that proved to be absent), Nina stepped in to save them by demonstrating the use of TreePlotter to help the team locate the right tree that matched our list of street trees.

The surveyors – Julianne, Charley, Alex, and Jeevan – split into two teams to get the job done. Nina trained Jeevan on-the-ground, having joined us that day as a new surveyor, and on such a windy day her presence was warmly welcomed!

The group found an interesting street tree, that had had its planting hole stolen by another seed, had grown rapidly, and was thus choking the growth of the other, intended street tree.

Thank you to the volunteers and to Nina; we have 3,000 trees to survey, so please let us know if you’d like to get involved!

Nature Walk: Edgbaston Reservoir

About 20 people came along to the nature walk around Edgbaston Reservoir, with Friends of Edgbaston Reservoir, on Saturday 30th March for Easter.

Lovely sunny day, the group spotted flora, fauna and funga on the interesting north side of the Local Nature Reserve.

Nature Walk: Edgbaston Reservoir, 30/03/24

The Reservoir has a relatively recent history and is an early part of the development of this part of the city. The LNR has five distinct plantation areas including a wetland. The spring is rapidly developing, but still cunningly disguising the identity of the trees. Help was on hand from a brilliant, teenage forester who knew his stuff! The trees at the LNR are mostly traditional deciduous and provide a useful learning resource.

Thank you to everyone who came along for Steve Watson’s walk, we are already looking forward to the next!

Replacement Trees

Planting the replacement trees outside Truro Tower, 27th March 2024

Last year in March 2023, Ladywood Health and Community Centre acquired four flowering trees from the National Trust, a legacy from the Commonwealth Games.

Patchwork Meadow planted the trees with BTP’s help, along with wildflowers, in the raised beds in the grounds of Truro Tower on St Vincent Street. It is close to the famous statue of Blondin, who tightrope walked across the nearby Edgbaston Reservoir.

Sadly, only one tree survived. Kindly enough, NT supplied three replacement trees!

Two members of staff from Shakespeare Martineau, Jakob and Assissa, took a couple of hours off on Wednesday to help plant the replacements, with Alison from Patchwork Meadow and Steve Watson from BTP.

In wind and rain, like King Lear, the old were replaced with new, and the wildflower beds replenished with more seeds in time for Spring. 
Replacement trees at Truro Tower

TreePlotter User Conference 2024

Birmingham TreePeople were invited to present at the first ever PlanIt-Geo Global TreePlotter User Conference, on the 5th March 2024.

TreePlotter is our go-to software solution for many of our Urban Forestry projects. That’s why we were selected from across the planet, to present some of those projects to users and members of the public during a 12-hour online conference, featuring users from Europe, USA, and Australia!

For BTP’s section, Ian McDermott gave an overview of our non-profit organisation, and spoke briefly about our Tree Equity planting programme. This has become the leading project of its kind in the UK, where we use TreePlotter to identify, plot, and plant trees, along with a community engagement thread. See our TreePlotter here.

However, the main thrust of the presentation was delivered by Nina Griffiths, the BTP Trustee charged with running the citizen science project, looking at the success of newly planted street trees (please let us know if you’d still like to get involved with the ongoing survey). Nina gave a brief overview of the burgeoning project, that now has dozens of volunteers engaged, along with two placement research students.

The audience were incredibly engaged with the presentation, and we are expecting to be invited back to talk in more detail about this soon.

We wanted to thank the organisers of the conference for our invite, as it was a pleasure to present to groups and individuals around the world the hard work our TreePeople – our urban forest volunteers – have been doing for our city.

A copy of the entire conference can be found here and BTP’s presentation is here.

Winter Tree Identification

On Saturday 16 March, we gathered in Highbury Park, with Highbury Park Friends, to host a training session on winter tree identification. After the success of the previous session here in December 2023, this tree talk ran effortlessly, and was incredibly informative on the mostly native trees that dwell in this green space.

The joint group of thirty volunteers gathered to learn how to identify these trees, through bud formations and bark. Starting with our most common street tree, the Lime, Mac began the ident session by talking about the different kinds of buds. Silver Lime (a large, grafted tree), however, causes bees to starve!

The Black and Scots pines can be identified through the shape and length of their needles; Black being typically twice the size of Scots.

Knowledgeable volunteers knew that the spiky leaves on Holly are a chemical response and defense mechanism to being eaten or defoliated; we can run, but the trees must stand and fight, so over time they develop the most spectacular ways of defending themselves from their predators.

Winter tree identification, 16/03/24

Many of us will be aware of the effects of Ash die back, and we can identify this tree by their black terminal conical bud. The fungus, chalara, settles on the ground and the spores attack this brittle, native tree, to the point that they’re seeding prolifically as a near-death response. It is predicted we’ll lose 90% of the mainly woodland tree in the coming years.

The Sweet Chestnut’s bark is a key player in identification, and if the foot-long cluster leaves are present this becomes easier. Many Chestnut trees are grown straight by pruning side branches, known as ‘brashing’ or ‘crown lifting’, when these trees are grown for timber.

The red (non-native) and white (native) Oaks can be differentiated by their buds; red has alternate buds and we can use the terminal bud for ID, or their large leaves when they’re present, but white has a different bud arrangement.

The Goat Willow, coexisting with the Goat Moth, had a bacterial canker that caused girdling of the branches, killing them over time. These trees are also a Phoenix tree, meaning if they fall on their side, they usually keep growing! Beeches however, in the same family as Oak, do not have deep, strong roots, so drought can easily kill them.

The Dawn Redwood has alternate opposite needles, tolerant of pollution and varying soil conditions, making for a great street tree. The park also boasts an irregular avenue of Whitebeams, but they don’t do too well with trunk damage, so we are going to work with the Friends group to replace the lost trees.

After discussing Cherry’s extra floral nectaries to attract the predators of their predators, we ended on the ancient Field Maple, whose leaves are like Liquidambar, therefore the opposite buds are key to identifying this tree.

Huge thanks to all the volunteers who attended, and we look forward to the next one!