Holy Trinity Community Garden – five years on

It’s been 5 years since work started on the community garden at Holy Trinity, Aldershot, with the aim of creating a wildlife friendly area in the Victorian church’s grounds. Information was gathered from various nature oriented trusts and with much help from local volunteers the garden started to take shape. Now visitors are greeted by flowering rowans or cherry trees at the church’s entrances.

The wildlife hedge from Woodland Trust is beginning to mature and the nectar bars are attracting pollinators. The old yew garden has become a haven of flowers and trees and the vegetable beds have flourished.

Last year the church was successful in its bid to acquire one of the Queen’s jubilee trees. The Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire wielded a spade  and joined with volunteers to celebrate the apt arrival of a native  alder tree.

This year the church was thrilled to be awarded its silver Eco church award!



Over the last year the Trust has been working with Rushmoor Council to develop a project to address a lack of tree cover in their urban areas.

Rushmoor targeted the Urban Tree Challenge Fund administered by the Forestry Commission. This offered 80% of costs to plant larger trees (to give instant impact) in areas that were short of them. Larger trees are much more expensive to establish with the extra protection and watering required to make sure they survive in urban areas.

Rushmoor identified 14 areas across Farnborough and Aldershot that could take a total of 200 trees with a budget of £156,000, but this required match funding of 20% – which is where the Trust stepped in. As possibly the only body in a position to ‘bridge the gap’ we submitted a bid for the necessary £26,000 to the Farnborough Airport Community Environmental Fund, which Rushmoor themselves would be unable to do – and were successful.

After a wait Rushmoor has now heard that their grant bid has also succeeded, with two years to plant all 200 trees. At time of writing 30 trees have been planted in three sites across Aldershot; Ivy Road Recreational Ground, Redan Hill Gardens and Whitchurch Close.

Look out for further details for the 24/25 planting season as all help will be welcomed.

Steve Bailey

Tree management in the Blackwater Valley

Coppicing and Pollarding 

Coppicing is a traditional method of tree management that involves repetitive cutting of the same stump (Stool), near to the ground, allowing the shoots to regrow. This is to provide a supply of small-wood for fencing/hedge laying, wattle, charcoal, furniture, and other uses, most recently for bean poles.

Coppice regrowth. ©: Emma Jolly/ WTML

Most coppicing would be in particular woods which would have large “standard” trees and other trees which would be coppiced. The most common was Hazel but Sweet Chestnut was also coppiced.

Hazel coppice stool.

Rowhill Copse is still managed with rotational coppicing, done by the volunteers, it produces open areas where the woodland flowers can flourish after the cut. It is well worth a visit in Bluebell time.

There are a few abandoned coppice trees along the Valley like this one near Farnborough North Station.



Pollarding is a similar management tool but involves the regular cutting of upper branches to encourage regrowth of dense foliage at the top of the tree.
The cut branches can be used for firewood, building materials and other coppice products. Pollarded branches were traditionally used for animal fodder. When woodland trees were pollarded it opened up the canopy in the same way as coppicing.

There was a very large Black Poplar in Shepherd Meadows, Sandhurst but it became too large and fell apart. Nearby there is a Weeping Willow which has been pollarded within the last ten years. You may find abandoned pollards along the valley as they are no longer used as in the past.

Black Poplar before collapse.

The next picture shows a Pollarded Oak tree alongside the Blackwater at Swan Lake Park, the very swollen top shows that it has been pollarded over many years, although this is unlikely to continue today.

Rail to Trail Walk success

On Sunday 22nd October 2023, BVCT hosted the Rail to Trail walk, starting from North Camp station and covering the 8 miles to Sandhurst station. A great morning was had by the twelve people and two dogs who joined us on the trip, meandering through the wonderful countryside the Blackwater Valley has to offer. Even the weather was kind!
There are great parts of the Blackwater Valley you can explore without a car so check out our Rail to Trail and other walks.
A huge thanks to Sarah for organising and leading the walk!
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Urban Tree project success!

The Trust is pleased to announce it has been awarded £26,000 by Farnborough Airport Community Environmental Fund to support tree planting in Rushmoor. This is a joint project with Rushmoor Council aimed at increasing tree cover in urban areas. We have agreed that the Council can use this amount as match funding for their bid to the Urban Tree Challenge Fund which if successful would significantly increase the funds available.