Woodland Wanders with Sheffield Woodland Connections for Sheffield Tree Week

Sheffield Tree Week starts today and my contribution to the festival is this short film that I recorded over the weekend while walking in the wonderful Ecclesall Woods, the city’s largest woodland.

At this point in the summer the tree canopy is at its most dense and many woodland wildflowers have long since flowered. However there are a few midsummer highlights including: bramble (Rubus fruiticosus), honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) and enchanter’s nightshade (Circaea lutetiana), all of which are in bloom. Plus ripe and juicy raspberries (Rubus idaeus) where the light levels are higher.

Also included within this video are tips for identifying: hornbeam (Carpinus betulus); larch (Larix decidua); Scot’s pine (Pinus sylvestris) and rowan (Sorbus aucuparia).

Visit the Sheffield Tree Week website for more information.

Walks for Festival of the Outdoors

Sheffield’s 2020 Festival of the Outdoors runs from 1st to 31st March. It will be the first time that Sheffield Woodland Connections has participated in the festival, for which I’ll be leading three walks. Each walk is two hours long and we will cover subjects including: identifying trees in winter and recognising veteran and notable trees. For more information click on the links below.

Sheffield General Cemetery
Date: Sunday 1st March 2020.
Time: 11.30am – 1.30pm.
Tickets: from £5 – £7.  Book your place here.
Ecclesall Woods
Date: Sunday 8th March 2020.
Time: 1 – 3pm.
Tickets: from £5 – £7.  Book your place here.
Hillsborough Park
Date: Sunday 22nd March 2020.
Time: 1.30 – 3.30pm.
Tickets: from £5 – £7.  Book your place here.

Free woodland walks at Ecclesall Woods – Sunday 20th October

As part of this year’s Feast in the Forest at Ecclesall Woods, on Sunday 20th October, I will be leading two tree ID and woodland appreciation walks. These free to attend walks are designed to support the aims of the Tree Charter.

The first walk will begin at 10.30am and the second at 1.30pm. Meet outside the main entrance to the Discovery Centre ten minutes before the stated start time.

These walks are open to all but places are limited and booking is advisable. To reserve your place please use the contact form.

Cherry blossom appreciation

Yesterday afternoon a few dozen cherry blossom enthusiasts gathered on Abbeydale Park Rise in Totley to appreciate this year’s display. The occasion, organised by STARTS, was especially poignant because 17 of these trees were targeted for felling as part of the Streets Ahead highways renewal programme.

Labelled as causing damage to the highway and pavements, five have been removed only to be ‘replaced’ with saplings. Three now remain on the ‘at risk’ list, one of which is showing localised signs of disease, while the rest have been given a belated reprieve. Many, including myself, fought hard to save these trees from destruction – the damage caused by their roots was never enough of a justification for wholesale removal.

The cherries were planted 40 years ago after fundraising by the local community; the two women who were responsible still live on the street all these years later. What better way to demonstrate high regard for one’s neighbourhood than by planting trees for the benefit of future generations?

Cherries deliver a wow factor that is little matched in the urban landscape. The right choice of ornamental cherry species provides both a feast for the senses as well as a valuable resource for the city’s wildlife. This latter point being ably demonstrated by the multitude of bees, of many different species, going about their work with a purposeful urgency.

“cherry blossom abbeydale park rise

Getting up close and personal with a cherry is an immersive experience: the visual joy of pale pink blossom framed against blue sky; a faint fragrance in the sun-warmed air; the susurration of flowers jostled by a lazy breeze – these are nature connections that can be enjoyed for free and that work a gentle magic on a busy mind, if you let them in.

There was some talk, but also much quiet reflection, while people drew, painted and photographed the seasonal scene. This is just one of the many forms that tree appreciation now takes in Sheffield. The event reminded me of two Japanese cultural phenomenons: annual blossom parties held under trees – albeit with cups of tea standing in for the traditional sake – and Shinrin-Yoku, aka ‘forest bathing’. The latter discipline instructs us to “walk slowly, breathe and open all your senses” – I do not need to be asked twice.