The RSPB's Leslie Lampe has an epiphany whilst tree shopping at a local nursery
It is one of these strange days between autumn and winter. The air feels crisp and my fingers, gripping the camera, are freezing. But it is bright and damp, not quite frozen, it smells of earth, not snow. The sun is still just about more than just a cold light in the sky.
I am hurrying to keep up with Ed, the owner of Langthorn’s plantery, as we walk past rows and rows of trees of every height and shape.
I am here to make a short film about Ed, his plantery, and how to plant trees.
He talks me through the history of his business, how he’d never planned on taking over the plantery from his parents when he was younger, what he loves most about it today.
Credit: Leslie Lampe
As we walk the whole grounds, he stops at every other row to answer my questions about what kind of tree this is, why he loves it and what benefits and characteristics it has. Ed has a natural talent to make information about a type of plant paint pictures in your head about the joy they bring, so that by the end of it, I feel like buying a new family member and saving a small part of the world at the same time. And it doesn’t cost the world either. Yes you can pay hundreds of pounds for a mature tree, but you can also buy a small bare rooted tree in winter for under £5. Bare-rooted means they’ve been dug directly from the ground, and have little or no soil around the roots.
Do you know your local tree nursery? And more importantly, if you do, have you ever spoken to anyone from your local tree nursery apart from at the till?
Until last December, my answer to both of those two questions was “No”. And if I am being honest, I didn’t really think visiting my local nursery to buy a tree would be much more than another errand I needed to run in those precious, small, time windows outside working hours and on weekends. And another thing I need to fit in my budget. One of the things I have skim-read a dozen articles about, vaguely knowing it is good for wildlife, a thing anyone with access to an outdoor space should do, and which will be good for my mental health.
Turns out, for me, the last one was not only true for having a tree in my outdoor space and keeping it alive, but for visiting my local tree-nursery and speaking to Ed and his team.
They are fundamentally passionate and caring about growing and keeping alive as much nature as they can. They are hugely knowledgeable and will equip you with all the basics around planting, before, after, and regardless of whether or not you buy a tree. On top of that, local, independent nurseries are beautiful places, especially in autumn / early winter. There are literally plants of every shape, size and colour. They are bustling, working places, unlike manicured gardens or parks, but they are just as peaceful and vibrant. If you let them, they will inspire you to turn every outdoor space you have access to into a haven for wildlife and busy human minds.
“The important thing is that everyone gets out and plants things”, he says in a sharp but upbeat tone.
It is painfully obvious and yet so complex that for a moment he can’t decide what to say first, then hammers home every single word.
“Well for…for wildlife! For the environment, to help soak up carbon, for the insects, for the pollinators, for the birds, for the bees, for your mental wellbeing, for generally the good of everything!”.
If you want to know Ed’s essential tips for tree-planting, head over to our Nature on your Doorstep Youtube playlist here.
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