tree planting

Miyawaki Magic

We had a fantastic turnout for our volunteer session in March! We started off tree planting in our Miyawaki mini-forest, before moving over to give the Tiverton Field a bit of a spring clean.

Below are the happy, smiling, faces of everyone who managed to get in on the tree planting, we had another half a dozen who didn’t make it into the group shot. We put in our 60-something trees and bushes in the first hour of the session, many hands really does make light work. It was great to have some representatives from the local Scouts group joining us this month.

A group shot of 12 people smiling for the camera.
Planting trees puts a smile on your face 🙂

During this session we were planting cherries, plums, currants and gooseberries. These add to the apples, pears, hazel and sweet chestnut that were put in already. And yes, that is what the sky usually looks like when we are working at HBUF 🙂

Photo of a group of 9 people out in the field planting on a sunny day.
The team in action

After the planting…

Our snazzy new vests let people know who we are and what we’re up to. They’re also a safety feature if we have people out with the tractor or other potentially hazardous activities like the coppicing.

So if you see Andy out doing some work in the woods you can tell that he’s not just some random bloke, he’s a random bloke in a hi-viz HBUF vest 🙂

We may need to order some in smaller sizes for some of our helpers though…

A young boy in an oversize hi-viz vest that comes down to meet the top of his welly boots. His mum is helping him to dig a hole for their tree to go in.
Hayden modelling our HBUF hi-viz

With so many willing hands the planting was finished in record time and we were able to tackle some other important work. Fly-tipping has been a problem over on the Tiverton field and a lot of rubbish had built up since we mowed and cleared it last year. The group took away several barrow loads of household waste.

We are also hugely grateful to the unsung people who litter-pick around HBUF throughout the week. Many people just take a bag around with them as they walk their dogs or go for a stroll. It’s a sad truth that a small number of selfish people leave so much detritus behind them, but heartening to have so many community-minded folk who help to keep the area nice for all of us.

a group of people out in a field collecting rubbish.
Litter picking on the Tiverton field

As ever, if you’d like to keep up to date with what we are up to, you can subscribe to our mailing list to get updates once a month, or you can check us out on Facebook.

Note that you can save some typing with our new Web address:

Miyawaki Magic Read More »

Meet our volunteers – Gaby & Juanjo

Gaby and Juanjo have been regulars at our volunteer sessions since 2020. They have tried their hands at most of the things we get up to, from coppicing to tree planting.

Photo of Juanjo and Gaby planting a tree in the Miyawaki mini-forest. The sapling sits in its pot waiting for Juanjo to dig the hole, while Gaby supervises.
Juanjo & Gaby helping to plant the Miyawaki Forest in 2022

My husband and I walk daily in this lovely forest and are grateful to all volunteers who look after it. Today we spent a very pleasant afternoon with nature-loving people working together for present and future generations.

Planting a tree is one of the most rewarding things one can do. It is a thrilling experience placing the small tree carefully in its place whilst imagining what it will look like in the future when it reaches its full splendour. Today, we planted many trees and this feeling multiplied.

Photo of Gaby, spade in hand, standing posing for the camera.
Close-up photo of Juanjo putting the finishing touches to a newly planted tree, patting down the soil with his hand.

I walk in the Hreod Burna Urban Forest and The Venny every day, and I feel privileged to have such wonderful spaces so close to where I live.

Volunteering now and then to plant trees, coppicing or just picking litter up while I walk, is my way of giving a bit back for that privilege.


Juanjo has also used his camera skills to document some of our activities. If you’re part of our Facebook group, you might have seen his video fly-through of the Burna during a session spent battling the invading Himalayan Balsam or his montage of one of our coppicing sessions.

Meet our volunteers – Gaby & Juanjo Read More »

Volunteer Stories – Kate

Kate returned to help us with the Miyawaki Forest after previously coming out in 2019 to help with the planting of the Cricklade Field. She’s busy with all sorts of projects in the local community around Swindon so it was great to be able to welcome her back to HBUF.

A picture of Kate standing out in the new Miyawaki Forest area, stopping to pose for a photo while digging a hole for her tree to go in

Two enjoyable hours spent in the fresh air and sunshine.

There’s something very satisfying about planting trees. My friend said she likes to imagine who last dug this soil when it was allotments. We thought it most certainly would have been used to grow vegetables during the war years.

To the sound of birdsong and quiet conversation, I imagined what this mini forest will look like long after I’ve gone. Who will harvest it’s fruit or rest in it’s shade?

Yes, a very rewarding couple of hours with the added bonus of a little bit of physical exercise, and great company.


Our volunteers always go away with a smile on their faces. Why not come along and join in? We have regular sessions on the third Sunday of every month.

If you’d like to round up members of your community, hobby or interest group, or colleagues from work, then we’re happy to arrange one-off sessions for you to do something together as a team.

Volunteer Stories – Kate Read More »

Our Miyawaki Mini Forest

A new creation for HBUF in 2022 is our ‘Miyawaki’ mini forest. Akira Miyawaki was a Japanese botanist and plant ecologist who was interested in how plant species interact with each other within communities. He came up with a technique for restoring degraded land by the very dense planting of native species, planting trees and other native species far more closely together than we would normally do.

We have already planted hundreds of native trees and thousands of wildflowers on HBUF, much of it on what used to be allotments. We decided to put our own twist on the idea, creating a Miyawaki mini forest of fruit.

The mini forest has several layers of fruit, starting with gooseberries and currants down at ground level, with plums, cherries, apples, pears, hazel and sweet chestnut rising above them.

The Miyawaki Forest is nestled between the Orchard and the Wildflower Meadow

We’ve selected a range of different varieties too. Each one is ready to harvest at a slightly different time of year, which should give us fruit throughout the season.

HBUF is here for the benefit of all the community. In years to come you’ll be able to wander through and pick a bit of fresh fruit to go with your picnic.

If you are interested in the idea of a Miyawaki Forest, here are a couple of links that tell you a bit more about it:

Fast-growing mini-forests spring up in Europe to aid climate (Guardian)

The Miyawaki Method for Creating Forests

Our Miyawaki Mini Forest Read More »

Our Mini Forest takes root

February saw plenty of volunteers in action as we planted our Celtic Circle and started work on the Miyawaki Mini Forest.

When finished, the tree circle will have one ‘tree’ for each of the 13 lunar months from the Celtic Tree Calendar. So far we have planted the largest (oak, birch, willow, etc,). By the time we are finished they will be joined by the other plants that make up the Celtic Tree Calendar, including ivy, a grape vine and rushes.

Photo shows five people spread across a grassy field, each planting a tree.
Our Celtic Tree Circle being planted – too big to get into one shot!

The Miyawaki forest is taking shape between the Wildflower Meadow and the Orchard. The volunteers (again!) had a wonderful day for it. Look at that sky!

Under a beautiful, bright blue sky.
Volunteers are spread out across a patch of broken ground, paused in their tree-planting to stop and look at the camera.
As always at HBUF, a glorious day to be out in the fresh air!
Ken putting the boot in

It was good to see a mix of new and old faces again.

Ken joined us from the local Scout group, and we hope to have the Scouts themselves along next time to plant some trees that they can watch grow over the years.

There are two things that all our volunteers say when they’ve spent the day with us. The first is how great it is to be out in the fresh air doing their bit for the environment and our local community. The second is how nice everyone else is, we do get a lovely bunch of volunteers at HBUF 🙂

Six volunteers lined up for a group shot for the camera, each leaning on their spades.
Our Miyawaki volunteers

Our regular session for volunteers takes place from 10am to 12pm on the third Sunday of every month. Everyone welcome!

Our Mini Forest takes root Read More »

Volunteer Stories: Chris & Lizzie

Chris and Lizzie joined us to plant our Celtic tree circle in February. Like a lot of people, Chris had been planning to come along for a while, but things just seemed to always get in the way.

Chris is the one with the holly

Finally the stars aligned…

Lizzie and I came along despite the drizzly weather as we wanted to get some fresh air and do something good for wildlife in Swindon! We had a lovely time digging holes and planting trees with the very friendly group – we’re looking forward to going back to see how the trees we planted are getting on.


Lizzie got the oak (everyone wants to plant an oak tree!)

The pair say they’re looking forward to coming back again to help out. Not least because it’s a great way to spend a morning, even when the weather isn’t on your side!

If you don’t want to miss out on your chance to get involved, you can subscribe to our mailing list and we’ll let you know what we’re up to each month.

Volunteer Stories: Chris & Lizzie Read More »

Why not be like Mike?

One of the volunteers who came out to plant our Celtic tree circle was Mike, who has been working locally as part of the Borough’s Livewell team.

We asked him to let us know why he’d decided to get involved with HBUF and pose for a quick photo 🙂

“I was thrilled to get my Birch rooted into the ground today even if it was bleak weather. A few years from now it will be interesting to see how the Celtic Circle is developing with the variety of trees likely to bring yet more biodiversity to the Urban Forest, beautiful visuals and some shade in the Summer months. 

For me, working in the Livewell Team in Swindon Borough Council, I am always passionate about what the community can generate by pulling together and relying on their shared knowledge to drive towards specific goals. The Hreod Burna Urban Forest is a great example of this, which adds value to nature, the community and provides a setting that can be cherished the many dog walkers of the locality.

Forgetting the professional angle, more than anything, it personally feels good to get together with others who are also keen to be active in investing in the local environment, at a time when it is easy to feel very powerless in the era of climate change and environmental degradation largely led by big, faceless corporations. Having a chuckle with the HBUF gang and contributing to the biodiversity of Pinehurst, will not change the world overnight, but it’s something.

On another note, it is good for fitness. My lats are still aching today!”

Mike the volunteer 🙂

We are always incredibly grateful to people like Mike, who choose to come and help us with the never ending list of work we need to do to look after our little bit of forest. Whether its with the tree planting and maintenance (those fallen trees don’t unblock the paths on their own!) or the less glamourous stuff like litter picking that makes HBUF such a wonderful place for the people of Gorse Hill and Pinehurst to enjoy.

If you’d like to get involved, why not sign up to our mailing list to get updates about what we’re up to, and advanced notice of volunteering opportunities, or join our Facebook Group to share your pictures and stories of your HBUF adventures?

Why not be like Mike? Read More »

Our Celtic Tree Circle

Our tree circle is based on the idea of the Celtic Tree Calendar. The origins of the calendar are uncertain.  Some believe that the Druids created this system, while other Celtic Pagans think it pre-dates the time of Druidic influence over Celtic religious matters. The version of the calendar that we are using is widely credited to Robert Graves’ book ‘The White Goddess’

What *is* certain is that it’s a great new feature for HBUF and will be a fantastic talking point in years to come.

The trees go in

The Celtic Tree Calendar splits the year into 13 lunar months, with each one having a different tree associated with it, like the zodiac idea that we’re all familiar with.

Our thirteen trees (actually, they’re not all trees!) are:

BirchDecember 24th to January 20th
RowanJanuary 21st to February 17th
AshFebruary 18th to March 17th
AlderMarch 18th to April 14th
WillowApril 15th to May 12th
HawthornMay 13th to June 9th
OakJune 10th to July 7th
HollyJuly 8th to August 4th
HazelAugust 5th to September 1st
Vine​September 2nd to September 29th
IvySeptember 30th to October 27th
ReedOctober 28th to November 23rd
Elder​November 24th to December 23rd
Our Celtic circle trees

The new Celtic Circle is to the east of our Wildflower Meadow. The image below imagines the trees as they’ll be in a few years… they’re not quite big enough to show up on Google Maps just yet 🙂

Our new additions for 2022

If you’d like to check out your Celtic horoscope, or learn a bit about the Celtic Tree Calendar you can find out more on the following sites, which each give their own take:

Our Celtic Tree Circle Read More »

Ah, nuts!

The latest addition to HBUF’s tree collection went in on one of our recent volunteer sessions.

A lot of people have discovered HBUF for the first time during lockdown. It’s easy enough to walk along the cycle path in the Venny without realising that all that Hreod Burna loveliness is just off that path.

Luckily for us, one such person was Charline, who lives within a short walk of HBUF but had only recently learnt about us.

Charline and her family joined us to plant a couple of walnut trees that had originally been bought for their own garden. They had come to realise that the trees weren’t suitable.

Daughter Heidi was first into action, hefting the mattock to remove the turf
Steve was on-hand, as always, to supervise the planting
Bedding in the first of the new arrivals

The walnuts will fit in nicely with a new feature we are planning at the moment. Both trees are on the edge of the wildflower meadow, which already has a small orchard at one end.

In keeping with the existing orchard we’re looking to create an edible ‘Miyawaki’ forest, with a mix of fruiting trees and bushes. A Miyawaki forest is an area of dense planting, with the trees planted much closer to each other than would normally be the case.

Watch this space or subscribe to our mailing list to keep up to date with the latest goings on at HBUF.

Ah, nuts! Read More »

April Powers

Your superpower? Creating a wildlife oasis in the centre of Gorse Hill and Pinehurst for generations to enjoy.

We’ve got a lot to do again this month, with a wide range of jobs that we need your help with across the site. Please join us on our usual outing on the 3rd Sunday of every month between 10 and 12, next event on 25th of April.

Photo of purple and white fritillaries in the grass of the wildflower meadow
Fritillaries in the wildflower meadow

While you’re there, be sure to visit the wildflower meadow, where the fritillaries that we planted last year have started to come up!

As well as the familiar clearance and planting jobs that need doing we have unwanted visitors to evict! The Himalayan Balsam growing along the banks of the stream is an invasive species that’s crowding out native plants and has to go.

Checkout the event for more details of exactly what we’ll be up to and where to meet.

April Powers Read More »

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