22nd February 2011
Up at the Christmas tree nursery, adjacent to the Moorlands Discovery Centre, four Mudlkarks (Mudlarks Conservation Volunteers) assisted NT Wardens Mark Bull and volunteer Keith to prepare the ground, transplant trees and plant new Blue Spruce and Fraser Fir saplings to replace stock that was sold last Christmas. Saplings are initially planted furthest away from the sales hut and transplanted as they grow slightly larger . Keith turned over the soil where small trees had been dug up with a rotovator and new saplings were planted in their place. When the trees become almost ready for sale they are transplanted close to the Sales Hut, where the public are allowed to go to choose and buy their living tree for Christmas.
Preparation now is the key to a more manageable nursery later when deciding where to plant the trees. By taking the time and using a line to keep straight rows and a measuring cane to get the correct spacing between the trees it will be possible to get round them with a mower to keep the grass down, instead of having the back breaking task of weeding by hand. We took particular care to get the right spacing as we knew the penalty for doing the job wrong! Throughout the year we will revisit the nursery to keep the weeds and grass down and Mark will , every January, prune the trees into that iconic Christmas tree shape. Believe it or not, they don't all naturally grow into the shape of trees you see on Christmas cards.
Christmas tree sales are an important part of Longshaw Estate's annual income, generating just over £20,000 profit from trees grown in the nursery and the larger trees brought to the nursery from other sites in December. The money is used to help fund maintenance of Longshaw Estate and fund other projects to improve the public's experience when visiting the estate.
Martin Gourley, Mudlarks