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Gardening, National Tree Day

Thursday, 8 October 2009

How you can add to the 70 million trees planted in Ireland every year .

It's Tree Day and people all over Ireland are being encouraged to try and get out and experience and enjoy our beautiful forests. Today school children from primary schools all over Ireland are being brought out for nature walks through forests. They'll also be learning about what the benefits of having trees in the areas around their home are.

Today is Tree Day and as mentioned earlier it is being marked by school children all over Ireland.

Eugene Higgins, Tree - Mendous

I was born into Horticulture in a plant nursery/garden centre in north Co Dublin started in 1940 by my grandfather, so my excuse is, "that its in my blood". On leaving school I worked in various Dublin radio stations and spent my spare time working in the family run garden centre, this soon reversed after spending an intervening number of years in Australia.

Over the last 12 years I have been combining Horticulture and media work.

In 1999 I returned to retailing opening Colour Green Garden Centre in Malahide Dublin, which won "Best Specialist Garden Centre 2002-Ireland". In 2004 we subsequently moved the business to Tullamore, Co Offaly, where we have a lot more space around us and have concentrated on developing our Colour Green Landscaping Services. Our highlight to date was, being commissioned last year by the Afternoon Show to restore a nursing home's spectacular Japanese garden that had run into serious disrepair (Carrigoran Nursing Home, Co Clare)

Eugene will be speaking about Tree Day and will also be running through 6 trees to suit Irish gardens, both big and small!

About Tree Day

"Today is Tree Day and all over Ireland primary school children are being brought out on walks around nature areas to learn all about trees. Schools have also been supplied with resource packs to help teach kids all about trees.

The Tree Council and Coillte are also encouraging families to get out and walk through local forests and woodlands. Every year the Tree Council choose a tree to celebrate. This years Tree is "Arbutus," also known as The Strawberry Tree.

Additional facts about trees in Ireland

. Only 10% of Ireland is forested, compared to the EU average is 36%. The current plan is to increase the percentage of Irish forests to 17% by 2035.
. The current programme sets out to plant 20,000 hectares of new forests per year, but at this rate it would still take 80 years to reach the EU average of 36%.
. Over 70 million trees are planted each year in Ireland
. Forests grow really well in Ireland because of our mild winters and high rainfall.
. Trees take in carbon dioxide from the air and convert much of it into wood. They also produce oxygen. Every year, each hectare of Ireland's forests takes in 3.4 tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere, which helps in the battle against climate change.
. Annually two out of every five Irish families visit a forest
. Every year, there are almost 8 million visits by Irish residents to Irish forests.
. One third of our foreign visitors visit a forest park during their stay here.
. The tallest tree in Ireland is a Douglas fir at the Powerscourt Estate in Co. Wicklow. This tree measures 56 metres in height.
. The tree with the largest girth is another exotic, a Monterey cypress, commonly known as Macrocarpa. This tree is growing at Killyleigh, Co. Down, and is over 12 metres in diameter.
. The tallest native tree in Ireland is an ash near Clonmel, Co Tipperary. This tree is 40 metres tall."

Eugene's six trees to suit Irish gardens

Tree Councils Tree of the Year, Arbutus, "Strawberry Tree," €115 (This one we're showing costs €115 but they can range from €20 upwards for much smaller trees)

About Arbutus
Each year a different tree is celebrated on Tree Day. In 2006 it was ash, one of our most common native trees, in 2007 we choose aspen, one of our rarer trees, while in 2008 it was alder, another common native tree. For 2009, we have selected the arbutus, or the strawberry tree.

Arbutus has an unusual distribution in Europe as it grows naturally only in the Mediterranean region and parts of Ireland. One of our rarer native evergreen trees, it is now naturally restricted to Killarney Co. Kerry, Glengarriff Co. Cork and Lough Gill, Co Sligo. The northern limit of the Mediterranean, and the eastern limit of its Atlantic distribution are determined by winter temperature; the regions in which it can flourish and regenerate are almost entirely those in which the mean January temperature is above (4.5C). Unlike many of our native trees which are also native to Britain, arbutus is thought to have spread over a land bridge from Brittany and is not native in Britain.

Arbutus is a member of the heather family but unlike most Ericaceae, it can tolerate lime. It likes dry rocky soil on woodland margins as it cannot tolerate shade. It is called the strawberry tree because of the distinctive colour and shape of its reddish fruits. In December and November it produces masses of white flowers. Since the fruits take 12 months to ripen, the tree carries both mature fruit and white flowers at the same time. The fruit itself is edible, but as the Latin name unedo (eat only once) implies it is not very palatable. Arbutus was felled for char-coal in the 17th and 18th centuries to fuel the iron smelting furnaces. Its wood was used as inlay in furniture crafted in the Killarney area during the 19th Century. The tallest tree is 14 metres.

Autumn Spire, €40
Despite that over ten years this tree may grow up to 16 feet in height this upright compact tree is ideal for small gardens as it will rarely spread over four feet in width. It is a very easy tree to grow and doesn't need too much maintenance. Its berries provide great food for wildlife and it is also provides some excellent autumn garden for your garden.

Cotoneaster, €40
This small evergreen weeping tree is ideal for small gardens. It will grow to be around 7ft in height and 7 ft in width. It requires well drained soil and again will provide berries for wildlife in your garden.

Pendula, €40
This small weeping tree is ideal once again for small gardens. It produces wonderful silver grey leaves and is suited to well drained soil. It reaches a height width of ten feet over the course of twenty years.

Heavenly Bamboo, €60
This tree is perfectly suited tomuch smaller gardens or blaconys. It can tolerate frosts and is also suited to plenty of light. It displays spectacular flowers all through September and its young leaves turn purple red in winter.

Whitebeam, €75
This neat compact tree can reach heights of 23 feet so is suited to large gardens. It provides beautiful cherry like berries in autumn which provide food for wildlife. Its quite a neat and compact tree when fully grown.

For more information on Tree Day,
For more information on forest walks in Ireland,

Trees shown on todays show are from
Flannery's Nurseries Ltd
Co. Kildare
Tel. 045-869131
Fax 045-869218