Sunday, 22 February 2009


Trees for Thanet Projects Map
. (Click on map and all photographs for enlarged detail)

What it's all for!
A one year old hedge with a 6m headland full of insect life and short-tailed voles, being used as a permissive bridleway by horse-riders on the left, with a potato main crop being grown. On the right barley growing right up to a narrow verge. (Manston Road - June 2007).
The Trees for Thanet Group began in 1996 and has now involved over 300 young people from around Thanet in planting hedgerows and trees. We have been altering the look of lanes between Birchington and Manston for 12 planting seasons and collecting tons of rubbish.The aim was to to restore old hedges and create improved habitat for wild-life in an area under intense cultivation right up to road verges.
With the help of Quex Park and other sponsors and a great deal of hard work by young people, these aims are being achieved.The aim of this blog is to provide a history of the past 13 years and to keep anyone who is interested, updated on what is going on now.
The map above shows most of the sites referred to in each item but does not include the Trees for Thanet Projects in Broadstairs and Manston.


Armed with secateurs and combustible paper sacks, the inspection of 7kms of hedgerow began one morning in February. The picture above does not show tissue or plastic caught in a young hedge but the 'tents' of the overwintering caterpillars of the brown tailed moth.
A close up of the enemy! Each 'tent' can contain between 100 and 200 hibernating caterpillars.

This picture of the young hawthorn hedge alongside the bridleway that runs from Sparrow Castle Pumping Station on Manston Road to Park Road illustrates the level of brown tailed moth infestation. The 'clean-up' is estimated to have removed between 30,000 to 40,000 potentially very 'hungry' caterpillars which would have one sole purpose in life in March; to eat as much hawthorn leaf as possible!
An annual 'cull' will now be an essential maintainance task.


(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.


(Projects 16 & 16A -see Projects Map)
Work began on the second part of the Kent International Airport Hedge on The Shottendane Road, sponsored by Infratil and Quex Park Estates on Sat 15 Nov 2008 and despite loosing two mornings to bad weather (rain and waterlogged ground), another 1175 hawthorns were planted in a double row by the 20th Jan 2009.
This will make the hedge 850m long and will, we believe, make it the longest continuous hedge in Thanet. Another 15 wild cherries will be planted behind the latest section.
. The picture above shows volunteers laying mulch sheet over the planted cut off hawthorns. It is a slow and careful process to cut slits with 'stanley knives' in the sheet and then feed the sheet over the stumps without removing any newly formed buds. The sides of the sheet are then 'spaded-in' using curved 'border knives' and clods placed on the centre about every metre to hold it down should edges become loose.

The benefits are early soil warming in spring, weed suppression and moisture retention. On a cold windy February morning with a wind-chill of -4C, it is difficult for volunteers to appreciate the good their work will do in the warm months ahead!


We have identified that our first project in 1996 (Project 1) opposite the Sparrow Castle Pumping Station on The Manston Road (pictured above in Sep 2008) has probably been the original 'locus' of the Brown Tailed Moth infestation we noticed in early summer of 2008 on young hedgerows along The Manston Road (Project 12); on The HSBC Hedge (Project 13) and on the hedge on the north side of the bridle way (Project 9).
The picture above shows a Brown Tailed Moth Caterpillar on a young hawthorn in late September 2008.

This is the typical Brown Tailed Moth 'tent'. The adult female lays eggs in late Aug/early September and the very small caterpillars that hatch then collect together to form a gossamer 'tent' on twigs on the hawthorn. Between 100 and 200 little caterpillars then take up residence and overwinter. Removal of these 'tents' in late autumn and winter effectively removes the infestation and damage that these caterpillars wreak in the next spring; they will strip plant after plant of all leaf.

The end of over 100 'early' nests from the HSBC Hedgerow alone!


(Project 16 & 16A on the projects map)

This is a view of the newly named Kent International Airport Hedge that was started in earnest in January 2008 on the south side of the Shottendane Road.
Sadly, we learned that one of the co-sponsors, Oasis Hong Kong Airlines had gone out of business during the summer of 2008. This first section was planted in November 2007 and here it is in September 2008 looking excellent already.
Altogether 2,231 hawthorns were planted in a staggered double row with mulch sheet laid and a total of 26 wild cherries were planted behind the hedge.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008


Last week, the third strim of the season was completed and slowly but surely, the process is allowing grasses to become established. We still do not know how 18kg of wild grass seed could have such little impact! Once we have predominantly grasses established, we will revert to an annual July mowing to create a richer wild-life habitat as the trees grow into a shelter belt stand.

We are absolutely delighted with tree growth at the end of their first summer on Acol Hill. There have been no casualties so far and all species have taken well. Not surprising, the trees at the bottom of the slope have made most progress with more water and a degree of protection from wind from the hedge and trees on the other side of the road. The wild cherry, willow and alders have shot away as the picture above shows. Further up the slope , less moisture and exposure to wind has resulted in slower growth as would be expected.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008


The picture above shows a problem we have on The Manston Road with our young Hedgerows and with the HSBC Hedge. You are looking at a clutch of caterpillars of The Brown Tail Moth
( Euproctis Chrysorrhoea).

The female lays eggs in autumn and small caterpillars (by the hundred) wrap themselves in a collective 'tent' of white gossamer to over-winter and then embark on a leaf stripping exercise on hawthorns in the spring. They strip all leaves and seem to kill young planting. They spread out from the plant with their original 'tent' on and keep eating and defoliating as they go. We have noticed they are also quite happy to strip our young cherry trees as well.

This picture shows the distinctive 'tent' wrapped around a twig from a hawthorn and caterpillars on the prowl. They have two distinctive spots on the rear of the abdomen and contact with them or their sloughed skins should be avoided. These little beggars have hairs that irritate and can cause severe rashes and irritate the eyes.

Control methods are to spray in spring before they spread out along the hedge or better still, cut off and burn the white 'tents' in the late autumn (Nov/Dec). We will need to check over 5000 plants this winter if we are to control the problem!


The shelter belt trees are thriving on Acol Hill at the moment but there is no sign of the result of hand-sowing 16kg of wildlife mix grass seed, as the picture above shows all too clearly. The crop (wheat) has been removed but at the moment we are likely to end up with a 1200m sq weed-patch that will need strimming or mowing to keep it down and encourage grass.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008


(Project 16 on Projects Map)

The new hedgerow project on Shottendane Road sponsored by Infratil (owners of Manston Airport) and Oasis Hong Kong Airlines was completed on Saturday 15 March 2008. In total, 2331 hawthorns and 26 wild cherry have been planted and 583 m of mulch sheet laid. Work began in earnest in January and its good to have finished the project within the time allocated.

The photograph below shows the laying, spading in and 'turf' weighting in progress. One of the problems we are experiencing is the early budding of the cut off hawthorn stems with the result that with even with great care taken, buds sprouting from the stem are damaged when laying the sheeting down. The idea of mulch sheeting is to suppress weeds, retain moisture and reduce maintenance in the first few years of the hedgerow's establishment. The photograph below shows the project from the junction of Shottendane Road and Minster Road looking west towards our Site 2 at the junction of Park Road with Shottendane Road. We have one or two serious infestations along the verge of 'Alexanders' and it is amazing to see them in flower in March! (They are meant to flower in June/July)

Monday, 17 March 2008


The strange sight of all our trees on The Phillips Shelter Belt, Acol Hill covered in black dustbin bags was too good to miss. The story goes back to October 2007 when Quex Park were expected to drill grass seed into a 6m wide strip beside the road; wheat was drilled instead!

The blag bags were put on one morning in the last week of February to protect the young plants from herbicide and by early afternoon the shelter belt strip was sprayed with a weak Round-Up mixture to kill the wheat growing in it. The effect two weeks later is shown in the photograph below.

In late March, on a mild wet day, the strip will be hand-sown with a wildlife grass mix and hopefully we will achieve a grass sward to encourage wild-life whilst the shelter belt grows. The hymn 'Plough the fields and scatter' comes to mind.

Monday, 4 February 2008


In 1998 Trees for Thanet were asked by Broadstairs & St Peters town Council to help it plant a screening hedge in front of an un-sightly walnut pailing fence. This was done by end of Jan 1998 and as the photographs below show,a good screening wild life hedgerow was the result 10 years later. However, Broadstairs Town Council and Thanet District Council, in Dec 2007 allowed a security fence similar to that at the Securitas Depot, Tonbridge to be erected on the wrong side of screening hedgerows and off the original fence line and a landscaping catastrophe has resulted.
The photograph above shows a new security fence placed the wrong side of a hedge planted by Trees for Thanet in 1998 !
The photograph above shows how our hedge looked like in October 2007; doing a wonderful job of screening the allotment fence!
The Isle of Thanet Gazette reported on the project in 1998.

The photograph above shows why a hedgerow was needed to screen this walnut pailing fence which was the boundary of Culmers land allotments. Compare this situation to the one now created by TDC and Broadstairs TC!

What is the point of Trees for Thanet trying to improve the aesthetic and visual environment of parts of Thanet when 'vandalism' of the nature shown above can be perpetrated by, of all people, our local Councils!

Friday, 25 January 2008


Meridian TV came out on Sun 20 Jan to film Trees for Thanet volunteers planting the co-sponsored Infratil (KIA Manston) and Oasis Hong Kong Airlines hedge on The Shottendane Road. They were interested in why the young volunteers do it and how we felt about some criticism locally that we had accepted sponsorship from an airport and airline. In the picture above the camera records some of the 375 holes dug that morning.
This project now has 950 hedgerow trees planted and it is just a case of prune plants, dig holes and carefully hand-plant as the picture above shows. Mulch sheet will be laid once plants have been 'rained-in' to wash soil around roots and fill air-spaces. The ground was particularly heavy and rain saturated despite Thanet having less rain than other parts of the country during the week.

Paul Wells making the point to Meridian TV that Trees for Thanet is perfectly happy to accept our sponsors' money and support and is delighted that they are supporting young people in improving the Thanet countryside.

Thursday, 20 December 2007


( Project 15 on Projects Map)

After 4 Saturday mornings' work, we finished the Phillips Shelter Belt on Acol Hill on Saturday 15th December. We were delighted to welcome the founders of The Phillips Fund (our sponsors for this project), Bill and Dorothy Phillips who kindly planted the last tree (an Alder) for us. We were also pleased to welcome Anthony Curwen (Quex Park Estates), Sheila Bransfield (Chair of Acol Parish Council) and Bernie O'Grady (associate Head of Ursuline College). The little 'ceremony' brought together all the components that have made Trees for Thanet work so successfully over the years; sponsorship funding, farmers and landowners, the local community and hard working and enthusiastic young people.
This is the view of the Phillips Shelter Belt on Acol Hill as you head towards Birchington from Acol. 260 trees were planted and protected with mulch sheet and tubex tree shelters. A gap for farm machinery access was left towards the top of the hill. A mixture of the following 10 native British species was planted: Lime, Silver Birch, Ash, Alder, Field Maple, Hazel, Willow, Wild Cherry, Hawthorn and Wayfaring Tree. A single maritime Pine was planted after being donated by a passing villager!
This is the view from the top of the Shelter Belt looking south towards Acol Village and the belt of Leylandii screening Acol Caravan Park. Due to rain preventing the preparation of the 6m planting belt, the trees were planted into an earlier seeded winter wheat crop. This will have to be 'treated' and grass seed will be sown in the spring. The Shelter Belt will need maintenance for some time to come to develop a valuable wild-life habitat and aesthetically pleasing strip of woodland.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007


Saturday 1st December, found Trees for Thanet back on Acol Hill to plant the middle row of the Phillips Shelter Belt, less Silver Birch which were not available from the nursery. A mixture of Limes, Alder and Ash were planted. The photograph above shows the heavy duty mulch sheet being placed and dug in. The sheeting prevents competition for water from grasses and weeds as well as warming the soil in spring and retaining moisture in hot dry weather.

Each tree will be protected with a tubex shelter that allows light to penetrate and photosynthesis to occur in a warm still environment for lower leaves. The tubex shelter is held in place by banging in a securing stake. (see photo above)

60 trees were mulch sheeted and protected by the time work finished and the picture below shows the 'march' up Acol Hill has begun.

Monday, 3 December 2007


We were delighted that Infratil, the owners of Kent International Airport, Manston and Oasis Hong Kong Airlines agreed to sponsor a new hedgerow to be planted on the south side of Shottendane Road from the junction of Park Road to the junction of Minster Road.
The 530m hedgerow will be a double hawthorn hedge with wild cherry trees planted every 20m and will 'connect' to the end of our 'Millenium Hedgerow' in Park Road. (see Projects Map).

Work will begin this month and it is hoped that the project will be completed by the end of January/early February 2008. Hawthorns will be cut back to 6-8" and covered with black plastic mulch sheet to prevent weed growth, water competition and to retain moisture.

Members of Trees for Thanet had an enjoyable visit to Manston on Tuesday 27 November for the presentation of a generous cheque for £3,000 from our sponsors. John Armitage, Business Development Support Manager for the airport met the group and looked after all security aspects and very kindly arranged a trip in a fire tender for those whose ID was not adequate.

The cheque presentation was made by Matt Clarke, Chief Executive of Kent International Airport, and Gerard Clarke, UK General Manager for Oasis Hong Kong Airlines .Members were then given a guided tour of Oasis Hong Kong's 747-400 series aircraft by the Captain and crew who had landed specifically for the presentation. The Isle of Thanet Gazette were there to record the event!

Wednesday, 28 November 2007


We began work on the Acol Hill Shelter Belt on Saturday 24th November 2007 ; eleven volunteers turned up.
The shelter belt has had to be planted into the wheat crop but this will be treated in the spring and grass sown instead!

Hole digging was easy but the measuring and random sorting of species was a little complicated with the front and back rows being planted only at this stage. Smaller tree species were planted in these two rows and the middle row will be planted with larger species.

The mix planted was : 25 x Field Maple; 25 x Wilow; 25 x Hazel; 25 x Hawthorn; 25 x Wayfaring Tree and 47 x wild(bird) cherry.

The plants now await rain to wash soil into any air-pockets surrounding the roots and will then be mulch-sheeted and protected with tubex tree-shelters supported by a stake.

Thursday, 22 November 2007


We had hoped to start planting on the Acol Hill Shelter Belt Project but plants were not yet ready at our nursery. Instead, on Saturday morning of 10th November, the last of the plastic spiral guards and canes were removed from the 2006 planting on the Manston Road. They had supported young plants for two summers and their job was done! You can see piles of removed spirals in the back-ground and 1000 canes and spirals were dumped at Manston Amenity Tip later that morning!

Friday, 28 September 2007


The Phillips Fund has kindly agreed to sponsor the planting of a Shelter Belt of trees on the east side of Acol Hill.

Trees for Thanet, with the permission of Quex Park, will plant the Shelter Belt in November 2007.

The 270m long belt will be called The Phillips Shelter Belt and will run for 270m on the east side of Acol Hill and will 'join' the 'Pine Avenue' that was planted 100 years ago to provide an approach to South Lodge in Quex Park with the hedge around Acol Caravan Park.

260 native British trees and shrubs will be planted in 3 rows in a strip 6m wide with a staggered gap to provide farm machinery access. Each plant will be protected in tubex tree shelters with mulch sheet to retain moisture and reduce weed competition.

Quex Park has kindly agreed to drill grass seed into this strip and it will be kept to grass until the Shelter Belt establishes fully. The following species will be planted: Lime, Ash, Silver Birch, Alder, Wayfaring Tree, Hawthorn, Hazel, Field Maple Rowan and Wild Cherry.

The first photograph shows the view north up Acol Hill towards the 'Pine Avenue' and the second shows the view south down-hill, to Acol Caravan Park.