The trees just behind our back fence were cut down, which meant as well as losing our bird box location, we also lost all the shade from the garden, and Little Miss Springwatch also lost the shade and roof of her 'wildlife corner' ~ think bug houses, piles of sticks, a couple of logs to sit on campfire style (rescued via a friend with a flatmate in the tree surgeon business). Along with Petal's precious hand sewn wildflowers there are the remnants of the last couple of years sunflower competitions seed heads, as well as a solitary bee house and plenty of mossy stones. So, the solution was obvious ... apparently. We needed to go buy us a new tree! Mr Manley had found a tree nursery not too far away, so we all bundled into the van, not really knowing what to expect.
Turns out, lots and lots and lots of trees!
I think I was probably anticipating a very loosely organised garden centre, all over the place, puddles everywhere, and hand~scribbled price labels.
Boy oh boy was I pleasantly surprised!
Arranged in rows, hooked up to an extremely organised and effective irrigation system, breeds arranged alphabetically ... Is it breeds with trees, or are you supposed to say 'species' or something? Anyway, I'm pretty sure you know what I mean. So so so many trees. All very orderly, in lovely straight rows that the kids just had to run up and down!
Some just a tad out of our price range though . . .
Call me naive, but I had honestly not ever thought before about where trees came from. They were just always around, you know? We've planted a few fruit trees in the garden, but I hadn't really given much brain space to where you'd get other ordinary trees from.
There was so much choice, I felt overwhelmed. Like a child faced with shelves of sweets, I didn't even know where to start. Such a wide range of colours of leaves, types of bark, tall trees, wide trees, trees with thick growth to block out light, trees with floaty almost ethereal branches, swaying in the wind ...
Since we had to start somewhere, we decided we wanted blossom, mainly because there's a Charlie and Lola book which mentions cherry blossom rain. For the record, I'm well aware that for most families their literary choices are entire separate from their horticultural choices but hey, most children probably don't get charged chocolate tax on their easter eggs either.
This didn't actually seem to narrow our choices much though, so Mr Manley went on a wonder and found a booklet which told us this one had a vigorous upright habit, that one has gently arcing branches, and the one over there was resistant to oogily boogily disease ... okay, yeah, I made that last one up. Ever so reluctantly, we realised we were going to have to ask for help.
I hate having to ask questions about things I don't know anything about ~ I'm always afraid I'll be completely confused by the answers, but have to nod along and pretend I know what they're going on about ~ so I made Mr Manley do it instead. Imagine my surprise when the tree expert lady explains the technical bits in a completely non~condescending way, understands our literary need for blossom of some sort and makes a couple of suggestions!
So, it was decision time. Ever the democracy, we narrowed it down to two choices that fit all our criteria (yes Smiler, it will have blossom), and voted.
Smile and I sat in the car while Mr Manley did the money bit ~ about £40 I think, which seems like a pretty good price for a tree that professionals have been carefully tending to for five or six years ... there should be something like that for children ... hang on ~ adoption! Why didn't I think of that before?!
Anyway, the afore~mentioned lovely lady wrapped the tree up in clingfilm (or some technical tree wrapping stuff that looks a lot like clingfilm), and after a brief tussle between the 15 foot tall tree wrapped in clingfilm and the van containing two adults, three children and one dog, we were on our way home.
So, to name and shame (or whatever the opposite is ~ recognise and reward perhaps?) ~ it's you ~ Chew Valley Trees!
If you have a moment, please do have a read of their history ~ they are one of those businesses that clearly know their stuff and value their customers and have (thankfully) not been edged out by huge corporations such as B&Q. I absolutely would not hesitate for a second before returning to them if I ever need another tree, and I really hope that you have the opportunity to visit them too!
Thank you, Chew Valley Trees