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.
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 she came up with the wonderful idea that we could plant our tree on Valentine’s Day. And so it was that we came to be hurtling across Charlecote Park in a Land Rover on a grey Valentine’s Day morning, our tree riding along on the back.
We had been up to Charlecote a couple of weeks before to have our photograph taken with the tree, so that it could go into a press release and feature in the local newspapers in the run-up to the event.
When it came to Valentine’s Day itself, the weather didn’t give much cause for optimism; but in the end it only started raining after we’d planted the tree, so it was as though the weather gods were smiling down on us that day.
The hole had already been dug for us, so all we had to do was shovel the earth and peat back around the roots. The difficult bit was trying to do this at the same time as smiling for photographs! Now we know what it’s like to be a member of the Royal Family.
Our tree is a sweet chestnut, a species that typically lives around 250 years, so it should outlive us by a century or two. It seemed a beautiful way to mark Valentine’s Day and celebrate our relationship, and we’re looking forward to going back to visit the tree and watching it grow with us.
Our story has had quite a lot of local press coverage, and we couldn’t believe it when our copy of the local paper came through the door and we were on the front of it!
Here’s a link to one of the stories, in the Stratford Observer, so that you can read the write-up about it if you’re interested. Here’s our story on the National Trust website, and this is a blog post written by Jana, the National Trust photographer who took most of the photos in this post. Thanks Jana for all the photos!