Help us grow mighty oaks from tiny acorns!

Posted 11th September 2020

This autumn we are seeing a bumper crop of acorns being produced within our woodlands, and we need your help to collect and plant these so we can protect woodlands such as Howe Park, Shenley and Linford wood for future generations.

Our ancient woodlands are predominantly made-up from Oak and Ash trees amongst many others, but in recent years the Ash trees have been blighted by the devastating disease Ash dieback. Once this disease has taken hold of an Ash tree there is little that can be done, the tree becomes weak and eventually dies. Losing Ash trees within our woodland means we are losing the character of these ancient places.

As part of our strategy to maintain the woodland and its historic character and richness of biodiversity, we need to replace the lost and dying Ash trees with species of trees that are native to the woodland, such as Oak. Oak trees are also very similar to Ash trees in the way they are late coming into leaf, so they allow ground flora plants such as Bluebells to get the right amounts of light they need to really flourish, something that is also really important for the ecosystem of the wood.

So, here’s how you can help, take a visit to either Howe Park, Shenley or Linford Wood and gather some acorns. Gather acorns in a good condition, these should be green, have no holes where insects could have burrowed inside, and the caps should come off easily. We recommend collecting 10 fresh green acorns per person/ household, or 50 per school. The acorns must only be collected from the three woodlands above, to make sure the genetic makeup of the woods is preserved.

Once you’re back at home or school here’s what you’ll need and how to plant and look after them.

You’ll need:

  • Gardening gloves
  • 15cm (6in) pots with drainage holes (initially you can fit 4 acorns per pot)
  • Multi-purpose compost
  • Trowel
  • Acorns
  • Plant label

How to plant:

  1. Loosely fill the a 15cm (6in) pot with compost leaving around a 2.5cm (1in) gap between the compost and the top of the pot. Make four spaced holes at the edge of the pot with your finger and put an acorn in to each hole.
  2. Gently cover over the acorns with the compost. Water the pot and place it outside, somewhere it’ll get watered by the rain. You may also need to protect the acorns from animals and birds.
  3. The seedlings can be kept in this pot until the roots begin to emerge out of the drainage holes, when it can be potted on to a slightly larger pot. Tall pots are better than squat ones, to allow the roots to elongate. You’ll need to repeat this as often as necessary.
  4. Let them grow! These will need to be left to grow for 2 growing seasons (2 years)
  5. In December 2022, The Parks Trust will collect the newly grown Oak seedlings from you and plant these in our woodlands, where they will be cared for until they become mature trees.

Please visit our website to register you interest in taking part in this project, we will then contact you in 2022 to arrange the collection of the trees