Monday, 7 May 2007

MANSTON ROAD (Phase 3) REPLANTING (Nov 2006 - Feb 2007)

(Project 14 on Trees for Thanet Projects Map)

Phase 3 of the Manston Road replant to re-establish a hedgerow that had failed after being notch planted in 2003 by a contractor was to cause Trees for Thanet some problems. There were large areas of Alexanders infestation right on the planting lines; the mild winter and early spring caused early leafing of hawthorns and rapid weed growth and the clearing of very old gaps on Woodchurch Road proved difficult.

Planting began on Saturday 18th November 2006 and was completed by Saturday 24 February 2007. By the end of March all mulch sheeting was on and Trees for Thanet members were ready to celebrate the end of the 10th 'Planting Season'. 1500 hawthorn were planted along the Manston Road down to Woodchurch Road with 19 dessert cherry trees planted at the same time. The method used was to cut well rooted 60cm whips about 12 cm above the soil line and plant them with a 'twig' poking above the soil. This 'twig' would then bud and leaf from the stem. A more flexible lightweight mulch sheet was then placed over the double rows and the edges spaded in. Clods of soil were then placed on the sheeting to combat wind lift until the edges were compacted.

A further 800 plants were planted in the same way in the old hedgerow gaps in Woodchurch Road and a new short hedge planted on the south side of the road upto the houses 100m from the junction. Two cherries were planted behind the larger gaps and one cherry planted beside the house.

A gap in the ancient hedge in Woodchurch Road close to Manston Road reaching the end of the clearing stage.
The 'digging team' hard at work on the cleared and strimmed planting line.

The second row of holes being dug behind the planted front row of 'twigs' by the passing bay in Woodchurch Road close to the Manston Road junction.
The front row of 'twigs' going in on the Manston Road.
The first of 22 dessert cherry trees being dropped off for planting behind the hedgerow.

The view northwards along the Manston Road towards Sparrow Castle pumping station from the Woodchurch Road junction. The canes were placed to let horse-riders know planted 'twigs' were in the ground and the hedge has been curved away from the verge to give traffic turning out of Woodchurch Road a clear view. Even with a clear view, speeding and careless drivers manage to go off the road and a collision on the junction cleared all the hedge on the lefthand side of this picture a few weeks earlier!

A lighter weight plastic mulch sheet enabled the sheet to be placed over each 'twig' and then with downwards pressure, the sharp end of each twig perforated the sheet. Not only was this speedier but the sheet was tighter to each stem. You will see a team ahead of the 'mulch sheeters'; because of the mild weather grass and Alexanders had grown back on the planting line and hand-weeding was carried out before placing the mulch sheet down in February!
The start of the new season's planting and the end of the previous year's. In February the 'twigs' planted in November had already started to leaf as the photograph shows and a little damage was caused to sprouting leaves by forcing the mulch sheet over. The edges of the mulch sheet have been spaded in using semi-circular edging knives; far more effective than square edged spades!

The black mulch sheet progresses south towards Woodchurch Road.
At the last gap planted (as Woodchurch Road approaches Reclamet) a thief lifted 16 'twigs' by cutting the mulch sheet and pulling the plants out. It is estimated that a thief has now stolen 60 plants over the past 6 years! This is very tedious as Trees for Thanet would rather come and plant his or her hedge in one go!
Trees for Thanet were delighted to finish Phase 3 of the Manston Road re-plant! It is believed that the longest stretch of hedgerows in Thanet now runs from Shottendane Road along the Manston Road to Woodchurch Road (HSBC and 3 Phases of re-planting). Almost 6000 plants have been planted into the hedgerows (5,925) and a total of 46 dessert cherries have been planted behind. It is hoped that this will create a riot of blossom for years to come!

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