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Tree Planting...Things to consider

Whether you are planting trees or hedgerows to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee, contribute to climate change adaption, or help nature’s recovery, aim to plant species that will maximise the benefits for wildlife. 

Trees are wondrous, no doubt about it. The ancient and veteran variety towering majestically above us, providing shelter and food to countless other species, securing soil with their network of roots, and communicating to other plants and symbiotic mycorrhizal fungi via chemical transfers. England has more large ancient Oaks than any other country in Europe; the Great Park of Oxfordshire’s Blenheim Palace alone has 143 oaks which are over 6m in girth.

IMPORTANT Before Planting When Not in a Garden

People are rightly passionate about protecting existing trees and planting new ones. In fact, many people see tree-planting as the answer to sucking up all the carbon we’re releasing, a quick-fix letting us ‘off the hook’ from adopting a low-carbon economy. But there’s tree planting and tree-planting…Tree planting without considering the wider landscape can cause damage to rare habitats, like our chalk meadows and floodplain grazing marsh (which are excellent carbon sinks in their own right), and potentially put the trees in the wrong conditions meaning that the trees don’t thrive or survive.


Things to Consider

  • What is already on your land? Carry out a survey and check what data (on species, habitats and designations) is available from Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre
  • The wider landscape context: Does the land fall into one of the three Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Oxfordshire? What habitat are you wanting to plant in? 
  • Discover which zone of the Nature Recovery Network your land is in

Need Advice?

Community Groups:

If you are a community group, then our Community Ecologist Roselle will be able to help you with bespoke guidance and advice on how to best enhance your area for nature. 

West Oxfordshire:

If you are within west Oxfordshire, then contact the Wychwood Forest Trust who manage a number of nature reserves within the boundary of the former Wychwood Forest in west Oxfordshire.

Choosing Trees to Plant

Native Trees and their Importance to Wildlife

Native tree species have been embedded within our landscape since the last ice age, about 10,000 years ago. They have co-evolved with our wildlife and environment, forging alliances that span time, and as such, they support and enrich our local biodiversity in a way that is unrivalled by ‘naturalised’ tree species.

It is well recognized that our two native species of oak support over two thousand species including mammals, birds, insects, fungi and mosses and 326 of these have adapted to rely solely on oak for survival.

However, they are not the only native trees that should be celebrated. Our humble Hawthorn supports over 300 insects as well as the wider ecosystem that relies on them, providing food and shelter to a myriad species. Buckthorn too, is the only foodplant of the Brimstone butterfly caterpillar and Blackthorn for the exceedingly-rare black-hairstreak butterfly

Harvest mouse
Black Hairstreak butterfly

By planting native trees and hedgerows we can support a vast quantity of life, some of which rely on very specific species to thrive. 

Native Tree & Shrub Species for Pollinators

Clicking on the names will direct you to more information. Please consider the local conditions and habitat before planting.

Alder, (Alnus glutinosa)

Cultivated apple, (Malus domestica)

Crab Apple, (Malus sylvestris)

Silver birch, (Betula pendula)

Blackthorn, (Prunus spinosa)

Purging Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) 

Bird cherry, (Prunus padus)

Wild cherry, (Prunus avium)

Cherry plum, (Prunus cerasifera)

Service Tree, (Sorbus torminalis)

Goat willow, (Salix caprea)

Dog rose, (Rosa canina)

Dogwood, (Cornus sanguinea)

Elder, (Sambucus nigra)

Hawthorn, (Crataegus monogyna)

Hazel, (Corylus avellana)

Holly, (Ilex aquifolium)

Small-leaved Lime, (Tilia cordata)

Field Maple (Acer campestre)

Wild Pear, (Pyrus pyraster)

Rowan, (Sorbus aucuparia)

Spindle (Euonymus europaeus)


Small Trees for Small Gardens that Bees Love

The tree species below are great for bees and other pollinators. Please note the list below contains both native and non-native species so be careful where these are planted – only plant non-native species in gardens.

Goat willow
(Salix caprea pendula ‘Kilmarnock’)
A weeping variety of the all-important goat willow, grafted onto a dwarfing rootstock, which grows to a maximum height of only 2.5m. You can even grow it in a pot, as long as it gets plenty of water. Flowering period: March to April.
Judas tree (Cercis canadensis)Flowering period March to April
Juneberry
(Service berry (Amelanchier)
There are many species and varieties to suit almost all gardens. Eg. AmelanchierBallerina’, A. ‘Lamarckii’ and A. ‘Obelisk’. Flowering period: March to April
Apple (Malus)There are many varieties to suit almost all gardens. Eg Malus ‘Evereste’, M. ‘Pink Glow’, ‘Toringo’, M. ‘Aros’, and M. ‘Laura’ are popular. Flowering : April and May.
Cherry (Prunus)The best for bees are the single, or semi-double forms; avoid double flowering varieties as the bees won’t be able to get at the nectar. Eg Prunus ‘Accolade’, P. ‘Kanzan’, P. ‘Amanogawa’ and P. ‘Ruby’. Flowering period: April to May
Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia)eg. Sorbus ‘Chinese Lace’ and S. ‘Autumn Spire’.
Strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo)Flowering period: September – December

Planting Hedgerows

Click on the infographics to enlarge. From there they can be saved to your files. 

Tailored Hedgerow Species Mix - infographic

Hedgerows are a fantastic way to get more trees into your local environment. They provide so many ecological services that benefit our local wildlife and us too, we’d be pretty lost without them. Go to our Hedgerow Heroes project to find out more about how Wild Oxfordshire are conserving this vital habitat across the county. 

Fruiting and Flowering Times of Hedgerow Plants - chart

Managing Your Trees, Woodlands or Hedges

Links to resources and online tool kits below 

Need a Tree Surgeon?

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 Need a contractor, tree surgeon or wanting to connect with others in the woodland and forestry section? Use Sylva’s free, online directory to find them in your local area.

Planting or Restoring Hedges?

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Planting hedges or restoring old ones? Use the People’s Trust of Endangered Species Hedgerow monitoring app to see what stage your hedgerow is at and what management it needs. You may even be able to be a part of our Hedgerow Heroes Project! 

Managing your Woodland

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For woodland management advice, the Sylva foundation have a host of online tool kits and services that can help, giving you bespoke guidance. 

If it’s management specifically for wildlife and rare / endangered species you need, also see the Woodland Wildlife Toolkit.

Community Spirit

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 Needing a helping hand for a community space? Use our community map to find like-minded groups near you that might be able to help.

Ash Dieback

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Ash dieback is a prolific disease that devastates trees. For more information go to Ash-dieback.co.uk or read the Sylva Foundation’s article.