Guerrilla Gardeners of all ages launched a campaign for Blackrock Tidy Towns, championing the rights of bees and butterflies. The goal of the campaign is to make bees and butterflies feel at home in Blackrock, County Louth. To this end, an educational garden was planted at the site of an unused house, located in the centre of the village. This small house has a front garden which is both highly visible to local residents and located across from a busy shopping area. There is now a cottage garden planted in front of the house, with a variety of traditional flowers such as foxgloves, peonies, hollyhocks, sunflowers, lupins, hydrangeas, wallflowers, and geraniums.

The merry band of guerrillas were composed of Tidy Towns volunteers, their grandchildren, families involved in the development of the Blackrock Playground, and local residents passing by on the day. To promote the feeding of bees and butterflies, envelopes with wildflower seeds were passed out to local people. Blackrock Tidy Towns is hoping every resident of the village will make butterflies feel at home, by feeding them a buffet of cottage garden flowers, wild flowers, and flowering shrubs.

The launch of the campaign to befriend bees and butterflies, coincided with the International Day of Biological Diversity. The guerrilla gardeners were also celebrating the European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity Between Generations. Biodiversity can easily be enhanced through planting flowers which contain supplies of nectar and pollen. Rather than bedding plants, drifts of colourful herbaceous flowers, herbs, flowering native trees and decorative shrubs, add to the naturescape of Blackrock. Mixed with wildflowers, such gardens are a pleasure to admire, and include within the thoroughfares of village life.

Blackrock, Dromiskin and Ardee
County Louth have participated in a series of events celebrating the magic of trees during Springtime. The essence of events held for Earth Day and May Day is the celebration of Spring, new growth, warmth and greater daylight.

The art of decorating or dressing trees is often associated with holy wells, or special places of pilgrimage. A pilgrimage to a special tree, or grove of trees, is often a quest for knowledge. Historically designated trees were places for communities to assemble. Seasonal decorations also mark significant landmarks in the horticultural year such as planting and harvesting.

Decorated trees can also be understood as outdoor studios. The simple acts of weaving and wrapping can focus attention and facilitate a tactile relationship with nature. For children it creates special areas, where they can feel in connection with the natural world.

In his book “An Ecology of Enchantment”, Canadian gardener Des Kennedy has written that a garden is a work in progress, an artistic exercise that’s never finished, but at every stage of its existence stirs with the excitement of the creative process. The notion of the gardener as a pilgrim denotes a journey of discovery, of learning as we go. Gardening is the chance to live in touch with the earth, to find ourselves within its seasonal turnings, and to truly appreciate the extraordinary beauty of each ordinary day”.¬†

The artist David Hockney has said that trees are the largest manifestation of life that we can see. A winter tree offers a sense of space, and a summer tree in leaf is a container of light. Decorating trees is an opportunity to be close to the dimensions of a tree’s space, textures and place within the landscape. Trees are like human figures integrating depth, latitude and height.

National Tree Week is an annual festival organised by the Tree Council of Ireland. This year members of Ardee Tidy Towns, Louth County Council (Environment Section) and Groundswell organised a Tree Tribe of school children who shouted “Trees Rule” as they walked down the main road of Ardee to a tree planting site, located near the town’s playground. Members of Ardee Tidy Towns, Ardee Active Retirement group and the Irish Wheelchair Association also joined in on the campaign to plant more trees.

A new circular planting area, reflecting a circle of people living and growing together in the community was planted with nature-friendly plants. Ardee Town and County Louth officials welcomed the Tree Tribe’s contribution to not only National Tree Week, but to the UN Year of the Forest 2011, “Celebrating Forest for People”. The special guest for the day was Mary Keenan, Executive Director of the Tree Council of Ireland, who spoke about the significance of trees, and our personal relationship to them in her speech.

Children from Scoil Mhuire na Trocaire, Ardee Educate Together and the Monastery National School planted two Rowan trees. Rowan is traditionally associated with fire, because of its bright red berries. The Rowan trees reflect the fiery spirit of the Tree Tribe. A willow hedge was also planted within the circular planting area. Willow traditionally represents the ability to move in all directions, to dance, and to go with the flow.

The Ardee Library and Create Louth (The Arts Service of Louth Local Authorities) both supported this event, which combined art, pageantry, and environmental education.

The photos are children from Ardee Educate Together, and Brendan Matthews and Mary Dunne (Ardee Tidy Towns)

National Tree Week

January 25, 2010

The Tree Council of Ireland ( will be hosting National Tree Week between March 7-March 13, 2010. The Tree Council’s goal is “fostering a tree culture in Ireland through action and awareness.” The theme for this year’s National Tree Week is “Twenty Ten Plant Again.”

Groundswell will host two public workshops during this week (one for adults and one for children), on the topic of forest gardening and including creative activities for children celebrating trees.

The Tree Council “is a voluntary non-governmental organisation which was formed in 1985, to promote the planting, care and conservation of trees in both urban and rural areas.”

The Tree Council states that “despite the great advances in the past 100 years Ireland remains one of the least wooded countries in Europe with only 10% of our land planted with trees compared to the European average of 36%. Ireland has agreed a target to increase our forest cover to 17% by 2035. By doing something as simple as planting a tree, everyone can play his or her part in helping the environment.”