Training Day and AGM – October 2018

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Barrie Wellington with a colourful array of the attractive shrubs and trees which can be grown form seed.

This year we made a change to the format for the meeting which accompanies the AGM. Instead of the format where we have an evening event with the AGM being followed by a talk, we decided on a daytime schedule. Thus, on Saturday 20th October, we gathered at Miserden Village Hall for a talk, a light buffet lunch, the AGM and a walk.

Whilst not following the order of the day’s activities, firstly we should report on the formal business of the day – the Annual General Meeting. This allows committee to inform attendees of our past activity as well as an insight of what is coming up. WE report on the finances for the year past.The principal item however concerns the election of the committee and officers. The membership of committee remains unchanged from last year, and Mike Hartnell and Christopher Coghlan continue as Chairman and Vice-Chairman respectively and Ann Jones continues as Co-ordinator/Secretary. However we were pleased to be able to refresh our approach to running the Group by a couple of key changes in office holders.  Alan Jones has stepped down as Publicity Officer (taking on the role of Finance Officer in the absence of other volunteers). This allows us to bring in Robert Neal to undertake an IT and Webmaster function. Robert has considerable experience in these spheres and is working to improve both our website and our ability to take advantage of technology. Our new look website should be available in early 2019, but those of you currently accessing it should have a seamless transition. Robert is also intending to take on the production of Tree & Leaf. We will not however forget those of you who are not online – and Tree & Leaf will continue to be available in paper form as well as electronically.

The second main change is that Clive Hester becomes Research Officer. Clive has much practical experience of tree management and a real thirst for knowledge. Between them Clive and Robert can bring the Group fresh avenues to explore and hopefully Tree Wardens across the district will become aware of these and benefit from them.

Enough of the business side. Our day began, as so often with tea/coffee and biscuits before Mike’s welcome led us into a presentation by Barrie Wellington. Barrie, well-known to those of us with Royal Forestry Society connections, was until recently the friendly face of Elmcroft Nuseries at Newent. He spent many years of long days and no little worry producing vast quantities of trees grown from seed, using mainly the plug system and subsequently sold on to individuals, tree management consultants, such as Mike Hartnell, and national bodies such as the Forestry Commission. Despite his retirement he remains keenly involved with trees and so took little pursuading to come along and explain to us some of the details picked up through his career on growing trees from seed.

You or I might venture to pick up a seed or two of a particular tree and fancy the idea of growing them on. (And our chances of success might be limited if we are not aware which species require soaking, or heating, or freezing, or … any of the many other quirks and foibles.) For Barrie however, he would be gathering acorns by the sackful, beech by the bucketload. I almost said beech mast, but I gather that is what beech seeds are generally called when lying on the ground. And whilst seed on the ground might seem easy to collect, Barrie wouldn’t be impressed. Unless collected in a controlled manner on sheets the seed may be infected or if lying for some time, lose their viability.

 Anyway, from his heydays in the nursery, Barrie’s scale of growing can be judged from this photo of his young beech!

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A new forest anyone?

Whilst we all thought that she had “retired” at the last conference, Jean Nunn was present to very kindly provide a delicious lunch, after which we needed our exercise. Having received permission from Nicholas Wills, who could not be present, Mike Hartnell led a walk into Misarden Park. Armed with a supply of handbooks we went out on an identification exercise. It seems inevitable that when a group takes a stroll in a wood or parkland, there will always be at least one tree which prompts discussion or query. But, I suppose that this is part of the attraction, there is always a talking point, something to enjoy, and the benefit of exercise.

We concluded, how else, with tea and cake at the hall – a tradition, well almost.