Over 100 new trees planted at Bristol Woodlands

Over 100 new trees have been planted at Bristol Memorial Woodlands, near Thornbury, as the latest phase in the creation of the 100-acre site is completed. 

Between December 2023 and April 2024 a total of 114 trees were planted by the gardening staff in areas of Bristol Memorial Woodlands where burials and interments have taken place over the last year. 

The trees including oak, field maple, silver birch, hazel, apple, pear, willow and cherry are all around 1.5-1.8 metres tall and were planted in batches over the winter months depending on weather and soil conditions. 

Bristol Memorial Woodlands is being created as a place that future generations will be able to visit and remember their loved ones. A mainly native British woodland, the site is open daily for the public to enjoy walks and a charitable Trust has been set up to manage the woodlands into the future. 

All the trees added to the woodland are currently grown by two specialist tree nurseries, local to the woodlands, at Rockhampton, Gloucestershire. They were lifted and transported to the woodlands and into the care of the horticulture team when the leaves all dropped and the trees entered their dormant phase for the winter. 

Freya Widdicombe, who leads the Bristol Memorial Woodlands planting team, said: “We’re really pleased with the success of this year’s planting season, having planted 114 trees on site. The aim was around 120 so we lost a few but there are several factors we’re up against. 

“We have to be really careful to protect the trees from deer and other wildlife while they wait to be planted and we did this by using old bath tubs filled with soil. It’s not always possible to ensure the survival of a tree after it’s planted. We have a very heavy clay soil here that gets very waterlogged during the winter in places and also without the shelter of leaves on the trees, the top of the new burial field is a very exposed site. Some of the trees just don’t make it against these difficult conditions. The planting is always carefully managed around the weather during the winter as we cannot plant into waterlogged or frozen soil. 

“Some days I planted around nine trees – we have one central tree for every four plots in the new burial ground. We try to plant the species in groups in areas that suit them best; willows at the bottom of the hill and fruit trees grouped together for pollination.” 

The founding principle of Memorial Woodlands is to create new areas of Nature Reserve, increasing the diversity of fauna and flora. The nature reserve is funded through donations by plot owners and supported by the team responsible for the high-quality funeral services held there. 

Planting a commemorative tree is an ancient tradition and is a symbol of continued life, strength and family connections. 

The more mature parts of the woodland were established twenty five years ago, with each phase adding to the planned eventual 100-acre woodland.

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