Celebration Tree: 10 down, 10 to go…

On a beautiful sunny Saturday morning earlier this month, we were joined by the Yates family. We headed down to Places Meadow to plant tree number 10. The oak was planted to celebrate memories of some lovely family times in the park at Charlecote. What was really nice was that these memories were spanned across four generations of their family. It’s so nice to think that Charlecote really is a special place to so many people.

So what have we celebrated so far? How about a first date, flying over Charlecote and knowing your nearly home,  Family time in the park, 30 years of volunteering and a genuine love for Charlecote.

We will be continuing to plant the next ten trees throughout March and April when we will be joined by our local Women’s Institute group, school children from Hampton Lucy school, volunteers from Charlecote Park and lots more regular visitors to Charlecote.

Tony - one of our long serving volunteers - planted a tree in March 2014.

Tony – one of our long serving volunteers – planted a tree in March 2014.

You can see lots of our photos on facebook or follow our updates on twitter using #NTCelebratree. We also have a series of short clips on our YouTube channel.

We have found lots of different reasons to celebrate, both big and small – we do hope that you find you reason to celebrate in 2014 and maybe even think about planting your own special celebration tree with us.

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Rachel and Lee and their ‘Valentine’s Day Tree Planting’

You may remember we were looking for couples with a special link to Charlecote for our Celebration Tree planting last month. Well, we found a very special couple indeed. Rachel and Lee.

Rachel and Lee were known to us, albeit distantly, as they often fly across the park to nearby Wellesbourne Airfield with their company – Air Experiences.  Rachel had also provide some amazing photographs of Charlecote with the sun setting as well as the recent flood waters that covered vast areas of our land. What we didn’t know was the romantic story that links them to the park…

It isn’t often that one gets invited to plant a tree, but this delightful opportunity was extended to Lee and me this Valentine’s Day as part of a special project at Charlecote Park, a National Trust property near us.

It all started a couple of months ago, when I wrote an article about Charlecote Park for the online version of Warwickshire Life magazine. The staff at Charlecote found my post on Twitter and liked the bit I wrote about how we often fly over Charlecote Park and it’s the sign that says ‘we’re home’ when we’ve been out flying. So they got in touch with me and invited me to take part in their Celebratree Project: a scheme to plant twenty new trees in the grounds of Charlecote Park during the first few months of 2014. They wanted local people with a special connection to Charlecote to do the planting – such a lovely idea.

planting1

What I hadn’t mentioned in my original Warwickshire Life post was that Lee and I spent part of our first date at Charlecote, back in October 2012. We flew in to Wellesbourne to refuel and we walked over to Charlecote and had a walk around the gardens, chatting nineteen to the dozen, before heading back to the airfield and taking off for a flight into Wales and back up the Bristol Channel. It was a fantastic and memorable day, and Charlecote has had special memories for us ever since.

I told all this to Lisa, the Park and Gardens Manager at Charlecote, and…

< Read more on Rachel’s blog >

Our wonderful volunteer photographer, Jana, has also blogged about this very special tree planting and has included lots of great photos. Do take a look!

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Celebration Trees: ‘Made to feel special’…

We’re now in full swing with our Celebration Tree plantings. All 20 of the trees have been allocated to people who have been in touch and sharing their stories of Charlecote and celebrations they’re having in 2014.

We’re posting photos of the planting on our facebook page and a few videos on our YouTube channel – so do have a look if you have a moment.

In the mean time, it is lovely to share a blog post from Clair. She came along to Charlecote during February half term with her family. They planted a tree for her husband who is celebrating a special birthday this year!

Grow little tree, grow!

Grow little tree, grow!

I just want to say a massive thank you to National Trust! Not just for the wonderful day, but making me feel like royalty.

While I understand the theory behind the importance of customer care, I experienced first-hand the impact of it, and boy, its powerful when done well!

They didn’t have to, and without agenda, made me feel very special!

How?….

The representative from Charlecote Park that arranged our visit having a genuine passion for her work and the estate was clearly key. I’m sure she isnt deemed a fundraiser, but she was perhaps the most influencial one I’ve ever met (I’m sure unbeknown to her and maybe what made her all the more effective!)? Down to her care and attention, they now have a big supporter!

Through Facebook, I learn’t about a series of ‘celebration trees’ that they were planting around the estate. They invited people to email in stories of various celebrations they were having this year explaining why they should been involved and have a tree dedicated to them. I contacted them as my husband is celebrating a milestone birthday, and with our surname of Lucy having particular connection to Charlecote as it being owned by the Lucy family since the 12th Century (unfortunately not direct descendants) I eagerly applied. Within days I was in touch with Lisa, who excitedly planned our ‘planting event’. Nothing was too much trouble. On the day, she met us at the gatehouse and led us to the plot with her colleagues awaiting our arrival. Adam explained the type of tree it was and even involved our two year old twins by inviting them to pat down the earth, and repeat after him “grow little tree grow”. My husband was truly surprised and felt very priviledged, they didnt have to go to all this trouble, but they did!

< Read more >

Our sincere thanks to Clair and her family for taking part in this very special project!

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A varied week in the park and garden

The other day someone asked me to describe an average day in the park and garden department and it made me realise just how much variety I had in my job because I really don’t have an ‘average’ day . Every day and every week seems to bring something new and different along and this week has certainly been no exception.

My week started with the wonderful Passport Taster days. The Passport programme is a one year training programme offering seven people, nationwide, the opportunity to spend a year in a National Trust property learning about Historic garden or Parkland management. The great thing about this programme is that you don’t need any experience or qualifications to apply. All you need is a real passion for the outdoors and desire to start a career in the heritage sector.

The taster days were run over two days and we had over forty people come along to find out what the Passport is all about. In between bouts of sun and rain the applicants got a tour of the garden, potted up some plants in the greenhouse (to take home with them) and helped us to mulch the borders. They finished their visit with a goodie bag (containing lovely Thompson and Morgan flowers seeds) and a cup of tea and a biscuit in our Orangery restaurant.

On Valentine ’s Day we were joined by Rachel McCombie and Lee Ingram. They planted our third ‘Celebration’ tree in Hill Park to celebrate having their first date at Charlecote in 2012. It was a sweet chestnut and we managed to finish planting just before the rain started!

tree valentine

Unfortunately the week didn’t end too well. High winds caused a great amount of damage to the park. We lost a number of trees and our beautiful carved boar statue was damaged and has had to be removed. We are now busy organising tree safety checks and a full restoration programme to try and get things repaired and back to normal as soon as possible.

On the bright side it does feel like spring is just around the corner – the snow drops are in full flower, the Rangers are preparing the lambing area and the gardeners have made some lovely hyacinth displays for the restaurant and the house

This next week I will be organising emergency tree works, buying a new boat so that we can clear the river, learning how to complete an archaeology survey, writing a training programme, shopping for some new pigs and maybe painting our benches a lovely shade of blue!

So would you like a little more variety in your life? How about joining the Park and Garden team at Charlecote? We are currently recruiting a full time (12 month contract) Assistant Gardener, a part time (3 days per week, 12 month contract) Ranger and a Passport trainee. Have a look on www.ntjobs.org.uk and pop ‘charlecote’ in the advanced search to see our vacancies, role profiles and apply!

Lisa, Park & Garden Manager