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Why do so many newly planted trees just wither and die?

Updated: Jun 21, 2023

There have been a lot of depressing headlines over the last few years decrying the deaths of 1000s - if not millions - of newly planted saplings.


When we (Rothbury Tree Wardens) planted the saplings and five standard trees in March last year, we made a commitment to look after them.

The five standards (three silver birch, two native cherry), were watered all last summer. We did this via a tube we planted with them. Two of us took huge amounts of water and poured it down the tubes, many many times. We have begun to do this again this year, when necessary.

Flexible tubes were put into the ground, next to the tree roots, during planting.

Each of the five trees has a long tube down to the roots, so no water is lost.

Watering these five was hard work, but paid off. They are still doing well. Today we cleared the weeds from around them, and the generous Alan Winlow brought a trailer full of horse poo, which he has piled on top. This will do the trees a lot of good. To use horse poo on trees it is essential not to apply it when it is very fresh. This is because it will contain high quantities of nitrogen. Once ready, it is a great fertilizer, so hopefully these five will benefit. Thank you, Alan!

We planted 150 saplings. Northumberland County Council very kindly bought these for us, along with the five standard trees. The saplings are hawthorn, silver birch, rowan, cherry, and chestnut.

This Rowan needs a replacement guard, it is growing very well! New guard now fitted.

That's better!

Hawthorn sticking out, happy, and growing well.

What is the secret of our success? Well actually, it is not secret.

When we formed the Rothbury Tree Wardens, we committed not to simply planting trees - but to looking after them too. We have lost only 6 saplings. (Which we have replaced with trees grown by Alan Winlow).

A team of fantastic people have committed themselves to be on a rota of folk who come and strim around the saplings, replace guards if needed, and keep a general eye on things (AND LITTER PICK - UGH - the amount of litter thrown onto this verge is horrendous!).

As always, we acknowledge the immense help of friends. Alan, Jane, Rik, Elidh, Maggie, Sarah Winlow, Katie, John, Jo Wilkes.

These Tree Wardens are on a rota for tree checking.


ROWANS - This fabulous group of Rothbury CAN members (it stands for Reclaiming Our Wild And Natural Spaces) has planted many many trees, and also wild flowers, and hedging. The group is committed to looking after these and all of this is going very well. Thanks so much to Jen, Suzanne, Liz, Lauren, Anthea, Elke, Chris.

Thank you for reading, please do click the heart at the very end of the article, if you feel like it - we do appreciate the feedback !

Lovely wild flowers surround the saplings.


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