Volunteer days past and present

A lot has changed since our first official volunteer day in September 2014, though interestingly a few key ingredients are still the same (biscuits being one).

Early days

We started with humble beginnings, a wall of bramble to bash and a fire on the ground with makeshift benches. From the early volunteer days it was clear there was something magical about the combination of a wild overgrown arboretum and a group of friendly people ready to take it on.

The work was quite simplistic at first; bramble, rhododendron and bamboo were the main focus. Volunteers would regularly have to call to each other to keep check of where they were working.

Mapping and pathways

After a few years of battling the site and regaining the main pathways, we began focusing on a few key objectives: haloing around the specimen trees, adding steps and bridges, and mapping the collection. We also found ourselves with the task of maintaining our progress and keeping on top of the areas we have cleared, which led to our love of scythes!

Some stats

  • Number of volunteer days: 100 (read about our latest day)
  • Number of years 9.5
  • Cancellations: 14 (mainly wind and COVID)
  • Number of individual volunteers: 422
  • Combined volunteer hours: 8014
  • Most common volunteer names: Tom, Claire*, Steve, Amy

*both spellings

The redwoods in 2015 and in the present day – we have grass!

Looking to the future

With the access improved and the current trees rescued, we set to labelling the trees and most importantly adding new trees back into the collection. So far we have planted 87 trees and shrubs, and are regularly clearing more areas ready for new additions. We have so many trees now and planned that we are piloting a new Tree Volunteer system, with key volunteers each looking after a section of young plantings, helping us keep on top of weeding and maintenance.

There is still plenty of work to be done, with lots of upkeep and fallen trees to take apart, and still some wild areas we haven’t touched yet!