I thought that by now we would no longer need to be tending the large trees we planted in late winter near the A2 bridge, once the drought broke in mid-August, but by the end of that month we were back into a stable pattern of warm or hot weather and no rain. But, thanks to help with watering from trustees Sian Pettman and Rick Norman, the trees are all alive, though without having put on as much growth as they could have done, had the soil remained moist all summer.

I was put in mind of a tree-planting campaign, way back in 1973, following which there were complaints that most had died due to lack of after-care, which led to someone coming up with this little ditty:

Plant a tree in ‘73
Plant some more in ‘74
Barely alive in ‘75
Heap of sticks in ‘76

(A word of explanation to younger readers: 1975 was an unusually hot summer, followed by the memorable heatwave of 1976, when a Labour government was panicked into appointing Denis Howell Minister for Drought, producing the immediate, desired effect of conjuring up rain. Unfortunately, the minister overdid the rain-dance, as severe flooding quickly followed, but at least he kept his job, albeit now as Minister of Floods; he continued an illustrious meteorological career by being appointed Minister for Snow two years later).

The problem with that tree-planting scheme, as with so many others, was that well-meaning volunteers considered the job done when the trees were in the ground, but two consecutive hot summers proved their undoing: without frequent watering, many of those trees simply couldn’t survive, so contributing to the “heap of sticks”. Hopefully, that won’t be the fate of the splendid crack willow, aspen, field maple, alder and birch trees that we planted in February.