It was the Downside Tree Week from 28th March to 1st April and the School was buzzing with all things tree-related.

The main job of the week was to plant 1,000 saplings to continue our new hedgerow. The saplings, from the Woodland Trust, are all UK grown and sourced, and have been carefully chosen by the Trust for maximum benefit to wildlife and for year-round colour. They include oak, hazel, hawthorn, blackthorn, wild cherry, rowan, dogwood and silver birch. As well as the benefit to the Downside environment and wildlife, the trees will count towards the The Big Climate Fightback – the Woodland Trust’s tree-planting initiative to help combat the climate crisis.

We were joined by local primary schools, families, parishioners and OGs to help us with our planting. There was something very special about coming together as a community for this activity and, as we planted, we chatted, shared gardening tales and dug up many a worm! There was a real sense of purpose and wellbeing in the air.

Throughout the week First to Third Forms experienced a range of themed lessons from using trigonometry to calculate the height of trees to learning the Latin names of trees. Artist-in-Residence Miss Doherty and pupils painted a wonderfully colourful tree mural in the Science corridor and Tutor time explored the Benedictine Value ‘Stewardship of Gifts’ and our relationship with the natural world. 

Mrs Ryder created an app for self-guided tree walks complete with a puzzle to solve and prizes to win and pupils and staff were invited to join the Manquehue to explore links to trees in the Bible and trees depicted in the stained glass windows in Downside Abbey Church.

Possibly the highlight of the week was the whole School oak tree planting ceremony for the Queen’s Green Canopy. Click here to read more about the ceremony.

We are enormously grateful to the wider community for helping us with the new hedgerow and to Mrs Alcantara, Miss Essex and Mrs Ryder from the Science Department who planned such a wonderful end-of-term, sustainable activity programme for us all to enjoy.

‘Personally, the Downside Tree Week was an amazing opportunity for me to help the environment by planting trees for the new hedgerow.’ Jakub, Sixth Form