This week we were very pleased to be joined by a group of volunteers from Thistle Credit Union. Despite being a fairly miserable, wet day we planted over 300 trees on the banks of the River Irvine upstream of its confluence with the Cessnock Water. These trees will help bring further shade, stability and habitat connectivity to the river bank.

River banks are springing into life at the moment with willow, hawthorn and blackthorn bringing early colour to the river banks. Wednesday felt far from springlike as we and the volunteers endured rain all day!

We are right at the end of the planting season as every day seems to bring more colour to the countryside as we emerge from winter. The trees we’re planting at the moment should hit the ground running and develop quickly, establishing root systems that will help bind loose alluvial soils together, helping to prevent erosion of river banks. We should be due a spell of good, warm weather which will allow the trees to really get an early boost in the year.

The Thistle Credit Union volunteers made short work of the planting yesterday no doubt spurred on by the poor weather and planted just shy of 300 trees in just over two hours. Sadly for them the following day was very much nicer and Ian and Struan enjoyed a very bright, warm morning adding a few more trees to the planting scheme.

The trees we were planting are all from our home grown stock of saplings that we have propagated from locally sourced seed, propogated and grown on to the point where they are ready to be planted out. We continue to propagate trees from locally sourced seed as we believe having trees of known provenance is a major benefit in reducing the transference of pests and diseases that can be associated with buying in trees – particularly if they are being produced on the continent. Local seed sources should also ensure the trees we are planted are adapted to Ayrshire’s climate and ground conditions.

Ian has been planting trees most days since our return from the Christmas break and enjoyed a morning of warm sunshine that punctuated an otherwise miserable week of weather as we planted a few more trees yesterday morning.

We are very grateful to the guys from the Thistle Credit Union for all their efforts on Wednesday and also to Garry Anderson for lining up the planting site and for his contribution towards making this volunteer day possible. This work will help transform several hundred meters of river bank over years to come.