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The Queen’s leading a tree-planting drive so why not join her, says MONTY DON

We’re rooting for you, Ma’am! The Queen’s leading a tree-planting drive to celebrate her Platinum Jubilee, so why not join her, says MONTY DON

Her Majesty has ceremoniously planted countless trees all over the world since she was a girl, and many of these have become enormous, spreading giants.

Planting a tree is a wonderful way to commemorate a significant event. It is not simply a gesture towards acknowledging what has been done, but a statement of faith in a future that stretches beyond any individual human life.

Most of the trees Her Majesty has planted will live on for hundreds of years, much like the Yew that she planted at Glamis Castle in Scotland in 1937 to mark the coronation of her father, George VI, that year.

So I was thrilled to be invited to be an ambassador for The Queen’s Green Canopy. 

Prince Charles and the Queen tree-planting at Balmoral with a tree they planted to mark the start of the official planting season for the Queen’s Green Canopy

This will involve communities and groups across the UK and across every section of society to celebrate the unique milestone of the Platinum Jubilee and create a legacy that should last for hundreds of years. As well as planting trees, there will be a network of 70 ancient woodlands and 70 ancient trees to celebrate the 70 years of service to her country.

Much ancient woodland is more accurately described as ancient semi-natural woodland (ASNW). Rare and precious, this has always been woodland, even though the trees in it have been managed by man.

This will mean that some of the trees will have been coppiced or pollarded on a regular cycle. This involves cutting the trees right down to stumps and then harvesting the regrowth every ten, 20 or even 30 years.

Within coppice trees you often have standards – trees left to grow straight and tall for use as building or furniture material and usually cut when about 100 years old.

But when coppiced woodland is left to grow out, its lifespan is shortened. So, counterintuitively, the best way to prolong the life and health of a wood is to regularly cut it down.

UK gardening expert and presenter Monty Don is an ambassador for the Queen's Green Canopy

UK gardening expert and presenter Monty Don is an ambassador for the Queen’s Green Canopy

The combination of coppice with standards has produced one of the most ecologically rich environments in the UK. An ecosystem of flowers, birds and mammals has adapted and evolved to this constantly changing cycle of growth and clearing.

One common misapprehension about tree planting is that it isn’t worth doing because you won’t live long enough to enjoy it.

Yet many of the trees Her Majesty has planted are on the other side of the world and she won’t see them again, but the knowledge that they are there is enough.

And creating my garden at Longmeadow has shown me that, in a short time, from tiny acorns mighty oaks do indeed grow.

When we first moved here the garden was a desolate field, completely open except for a scrubby hawthorn. I planted scores of trees over the next ten years and now, a quarter of a century later, some of them have reached 15m in height.

Many people move house but you plant a tree for the future, not for yourself. Also, a tree is fully itself from day one, in the same way a child is just as much a person as the adult they grow up to be.

Another fallacy is that a garden is too small for any kind of tree. There are many trees that can be grown in pots or remain small in the ground. Flowering cherries and those with near-vertical branches are a great choice.

So, join the celebrations for this extraordinary, truly historic milestone that none of us alive today will ever see again. Celebrate a life of leadership, service and devotion by planting a tree and sending out a gift to future generations. 


Pictured: Demonstrating how to plant a tree

 Pictured: Demonstrating how to plant a tree

  • Dig a hole that’s at least 1m in diameter but only about 23cm deep. Loosen the base and sides of the hole with a fork.
  • Remove the tree from its container (bare-root trees should only be planted when dormant, from October-March) and place in the centre of the hole so the top of the potting compost is just above the surrounding soil level. 
  • Back fill the earth, firming with your heel. 
  • If your tree is taller than 1.2m it’ll need support. Use a short stake at 45° to the trunk and facing the prevailing wind. Tie securely (not tightly) with a tree tie. Remove the stake after three years.
  • To suppress weeds and retain moisture, water your tree before mulching it and remulch every spring.

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