Sunday, 22 February 2009


(Project 17 - See Projects Map)
We were very fortunate again this year to be sponsored by The Phillips Fund that is administered by Kent Community Foundation.
The project involves planting 330 Alders along the south side of Margate Hill from the junction with Manston Rd at the top and down the hill to the outskirts of Acol. It will compliment the Phillips Shelter Belt on Acol Hill on the northern approach into the village.
Purists may not be happy with our choice of tree but we decided to plant The Italian Alder (Alnus cordata) rather than the Common Alder (Alnus glutinosa).
The location is subject to dry conditions in the summer with a shallow soil on chalk. We believe the Italian Alder, which still has nitrogen fixing nodules in its roots, will establish and grow well on this site to produce an attractive tree line in years to come.
Planting began on Saturday the 17th Jan 2009 and was finished on Sat 31 Jan. Planting conditions were far from ideal with heavy rain preceeding each session. There was a further complication; Quex Park had leased the field for another farmer to grow a 'cash' crop of purple sprouting broccolli over the winter and harvesting on very wet soil ended up with compacted soil from a tractor wheel rut right on our planting line. It is fair to say that we ended up with heavy work to dig in compacted soil and one is able to see at close quarters the damage to soil structure created when heavy machinery moves on a wet field.
A welcome rest! The enthusiasm of our young volunteers in muddy, wet and cold conditions continues to amaze us.

The planting progresses! This is the view looking towards the Manston Rd/Margate Hill junction. Planting has been at 1.5m spacing and plants were then left to 'water-in' before mulch sheeting and tree guards were put in place.

The last thing we do at the end of every session is sweep back along the verge and field and collect the rubbish that our fellow Thanet citizens will insist on throwing out of their passing cars. That big white planting bag is full of roadside litter, collected from less than 100m of verge. It is fair to say that 'saving the planet' has no political hope if people do not even have respect for their own immediate environment.

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