forest path
Angela Slater
Daughter of a farmer and market gardener so have always had a connection with the outdoors, whether it was keeping animals or producing fruit, vegetables and cut flowers. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I gained an HND and BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management, as a result I am an ardent environmentalist and have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening. In my time at Hayes I worked for several years in the Outdoor Plant and Houseplant areas

Plant Britain

Every little helps in the fight against climate change

The BBCs Countryside programme has initiated a big push to plant in an attempt to combat climate change; the programme on Sunday 30th November 2020 concentrated on planting trees. Future programmes will focus on flowers and ‘grow-your-own’ vegetables. Not only has climate change to be halted for the sake of the natural environment but also wildlife and ourselves. The effects of climate change can be felt in the form of more frequent devastating floods and drought in summer which reduces crop yield leading to food insecurity.

In the UK forests only account for 13% of the landmass, approximately two-thirds less than mainland Europe. The UK government has pledged to be carbon neutral and plant an additional 1.5 million hectares of woodland by 2050, an area the size of Yorkshire. Fifty precent of our ancient woodlands have been lost and these are habitats which support thousands of species of mammals, birds, invertebrates, mosses, lichens and fungi, more creatures than any other habitat. A single ancient oak can support thousands of species from mammals, birds, invertebrates, bats, mosses and lichens. The fallen leaves also support micro-fauna, bacteria and fungi.

oak tree

Countryfiles aim is to plant a tree for every child who started primary school in 2020, a total of 750,000 trees. Trees absorb and store the main driver of climate change, CO2, through the process of photosynthesis which takes place during the hours of daylight. Anyone and everyone is encouraged to plant a tree from a single specimen in a container in your backyard to a whole community woodland. If you live in an urban environment go out and identify a piece of wasteland, liaise with your local council and mobilise your local community to raise funds to buy trees or approach tree growers to donate then get stuck in and start planting.

small conifers

If you have a large garden with the space for a full size tree, so much the better, but there are plenty of small trees suitable for a small garden or container, check out the list at the bottom of this blog. Even if you only have a windowbox you can still grow small, slow growing conifers and what’s more they are easier to maintain than seasonal bedding. If possible, plant a native species as these have evolved alongside our invertebrates which underpin the whole ecosystem. If planting in a container remember to ensure the compost is peat-free, such as Lakeland Gold, and free-draining, add some horticultural grit or mini chipped bark and place a piece of broken crock over the drainage hole in the bottom. A great project for kids is to germinate an acorn, all you need is an empty sauce bottle with a narrow enough neck to sit an acorn on without falling into the bottle. Fill the bottle with water until it just touches the bottom of the acorn and in a few weeks it will be starting to germinate; once it’s 30 – 45cm (12” – 18”) it is ready to be planted.

Acer japonicum aureum shirasiwanum
Acer japonicum aureum shirasiwanum

Don’t leave this too late, you can make a difference all it takes is a few pounds and an hour out of your life; a quick trip to the garden centre, dig a hole or fill a container, plant your tree and make a cuppa to reward yourself for doing your bit for the planet. Once you have planted your tree go onto the BBC Countryfile website and register where it has been planted.

Small trees:

  • Acer palmatum (Japanese Maple)
  • Amalamchier lamarckii (Snowy Mespilus)
  • Apples which are fan trained to plant against a wall, a ‘step-over’ or a small patio tree with 2 – 3 varieties on one plant
Malus Tower of Glamis
Malus 'Tower of Glamis'
  • Blueberries
  • Cornus kousa (Japanese Dogwood)
  • Corylus avallana (Corkscrew Hazel  -  lovely sculptural twisted stems)
  • Magnolia stellata
  • Ornamental crab apples
  • Ornamental rowans
  • Pears which are fan trained to plant against a wall, a ‘step-over’ or a small patio tree with 2 – 3 varieties on one plant
  • Prunus ‘Armanogawa’ (tall slim flowering cherry)
  • Pyrus salicifolia pendula (Weeping Pear)