This is one of The Tree Council’s 60 educational tree planting schemes with children that
were inspired by the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Each tree, provided by The Tree
Council, was chosen and planted by volunteers in the community.
ElmsWild is a volunteer conservation group based in Elmswell, Suffolk. It was founded 10 years ago and in 2009 was one of the lucky winners of the People’s Millions competition, enabling us to buy four acres of land for our woodland.
Tree planting began in 2010, with help from The Tree Council and with the whole community lending a hand. Now throughout the year there is always something going on – Apple Day, picnics and barbecues, educational activities for children, campfires with Scouts and Guides, and regular work parties to improve habitats for wildlife.
We named our plot Lukeswood, after the Reverend William Henry Colbeck Luke, Rector of Elmswell in the 1860s – a dynamic Victorian who built the rectory which still overlooks the woodland, and instigated a new building to house the growing village school.
In 2013 we bought a further 2.5 acres of adjoining land, with the help of a generous donation from a local resident. We have named it in his honour – Norman's Orchard. Here we are beginning to establish a community orchard, planted along traditional lines to provide a source of food, conserve local varieties of fruit tree, and provide new habitats for wildlife.
We decided that our Jubilee Diamond Tree should be planted in the new orchard – a wonderful way to start this new venture. Then we chose a medlar, an unusual tree that was important in medieval times but is now quite rare in gardens and orchards.
We have always worked closely with our local primary school to help give hands-on experience of nature, so we asked the children in Eagle and Hawk classes of Year 5 to help us with the project. They started by writing a letter to the Queen telling her all about our new medlar tree – and were thrilled to get a reply from Buckingham Palace.
They have also been finding out about the history of the medlar and looking at its unusual fruits. Much to their delight, the children discovered that the medieval nickname for the medlar was Dog’s Bottom Tree. We had a go at tasting the fruit and the children decided to make medlar jelly. Everyone took turns in the cooking, from washing and cutting up the fruit to finally filling up the jars. It tasted delicious.
The children came to Lukeswood with teachers and helpers on a lovely sunny day during National Tree Week. Together with members of ElmsWild and other volunteers we planted the medlar which now takes pride of place in the centre of the orchard. Later in the week the children made a presentation to the rest of the school to tell them all about our project. It has been a great learning experience, and great fun, too. Their enthusiasm sparked off a lot of interest in the rest of the village.
The children of Elmswell Primary School are veteran tree planters. When we first started our community woodland, ElmsWild made a pledge to plant 1683 trees – one for every house in the village. The children have helped us fulfil that pledge, and even surpass it. They are frequent visitors to Lukeswood, planting, mulching and helping to look after the trees. So we’re confident that our special Diamond Jubilee tree will thrive and become a landmark in Elmswell for many years to come – it’s in very good hands.
Photographs - top to bottom:
- 1. Planting the tree, encouraged by Tree Warden John Ibbetson.
- 2. Enjoying the results of medlar jelly making.
- 3. A first for Norman’s Orchard, thanks to team work.