This week at the Arb Academy, we have been working through some of the last units for one of our Apprenticeship cohorts. The group from KJ Thulborn, and Glendale, were putting the finishing touches to their tree portfolios, and also showing us their MEWP skills, as they are being assessed for Units 435 Identify Tree Species and their Properties, and Unit 444 Safe Use of a Mobile Elevated Work Platform.
The Tree Identification Unit, consists of a portfolio of photographs of tree species, taken by the students themselves, and accompanied by a written description of the tree and its growing habits.
They also have to provide pressed specimens of each species, or photos of the individual leaves/ buds.
It is a very time consuming unit, but helps to build their tree identification skills, a vital if sometimes overlooked skill for an Arborist. If you don’t know what tree you are working with, you have no idea how strong it is, how heavy it is, or how it will react when you cut it. That of course, means that you can make some pretty major mistakes with drastic consequences, if your ability to tell trees apart is very poor. The portfolios are built up over summer and winter, so that the apprentices can identify the deciduous trees in and out of leaf.
The whole thing is then finished off with the dreaded ‘ident test’- 10 specimens of conifers, and 20 broadleaves arranged in a room, and they have to get all 30 right, plus botanical names.
Below: Stewey setting up and using the MEWP to crown lift a large Cherry Tree
The guys have worked very hard over the last couple of days both in the classroom and in the field. They have been plugging away at the Level 2 Trees and Timber qualification for 18 months, and all their hard work is about to pay off. It isn’t easy to do any qualification, whilst holding down a fulltime job, doing night shifts and emergency work, so you can’t help but admire their achievement.
This week’s achievers are Arran Edgson from Glendale and Scott Rowell from KJ Thulborn, whose portfolios of work are now complete, and will be submitted shortly for their certificates.
As you drive around you will notice many apples fruiting at the side of the road, and also in orchards and gardens. Apples originated in Asia, and the wild varieties that our traditional varieties are bred from can still be found growing in China and Kazakhstan. Devon used to be famous for its orchards, but since the 1950’s over half of them have been lost, with countless varieties of apple disappearing into oblivion. Some hang on in overgrown orchards, and the genetic diversity carries on in the wildlings growing from discarded apple cores along the major routes of the SW.
The Apple tree, is actually a member of the rose family. Usually they are quite short, which is ideal for harvesting the fruit, but they can get to 70 ft (21m). The botanical name is Malus domestica or M pumila, and the origins of the word malus, come from the Latin word malum which when pronounced differently means both Apple and Evil, but unfortunately they are written the same way. This has unfortunately led to the apple being associated with evil or sin in various stories in folklore and religion.
The fruit is incredibly easy to cultivate, and supports a wealth of wildlife from pollinators and aphids to birds and butterflies, and if possible an apple tree should be included in any garden- the bonus being you get to have a beautiful small tree in the garden, help the wildlife and local environment and then eat the fruit fresh from the tree- what’s not to like?
…. and I haven’t even mentioned cider……..
For more information on Apples and Orchards, there is a wealth of information out there, but Orchard Link Devon, are a great organisation to contact, check out their website on:
On a recent visit to Wales I went to a small village, not far from Chepstow called Bettws Newydd. I went there specifically to see some ancient Yew trees in the churchyard there, and one in particular which is claimed to be around 2000 years old, and very possibly more.
The tree itself is magnificent, gnarled and weather ravaged, but extraordinarily beautiful and full of life even after 2 millennia. Someone has taken a piece of fallen Yew wood from this tree and carved a poem into it, which now stands in the church porch.
It is well worth a visit if you are heading that way, it’s only about 20 minutes from the M4 motorway.
I have been here many times, and with various groups of students, and it never fails to make my jaw drop whenever I see it.
Shone on this noble tree,
It stood here still when Norman knights claimed their victory
As King Charles lost his Royal head this tree made growth anew
Thanks be to God that we still have our mighty Bettws Yew”