Tree Succession Project
Many of the older oak trees pre-date the church, others like the Irish yews date from this time. During the later part of the 19th century, cedars were planted. Since then many trees have been self seeded or planted on graves in a haphazard manner.
Today, the trees we have are those that have grown from the planned and unplanned plantings. Recently we have managed to maintain the churchyard better ( Click here if you would like to help), removing most of the brambles and managing to keep the grass under control, allowing spring bulbs: daffodils and snowdrops; early flowers: such as violets, primroses and forget-me-nots.
The churchyard has also been managed over the years with an interest in making the churchyard wildlife friendly and that this concern continues. Although the emphasis on allowing the at one time the grass was left to grow round some of the graves and patches of nettles to encourage butterflies. This didn’t prove entirely acceptable as many of the graves were not easily accessible and were therefore left unattended and were difficult for people to visit. More recently an alternative approach has been used, keeping the grass relatively well cut during the autumn and winter but allowing flowers and grasses to grow in spring and summer
Recently we had a scare for the health of the 350-400 year old oak near the Reading Road. It appeared to have a fungal disease (Inonotus dryadeus), which potentially would damage the base of the tree. This has since been tested as shows no sign of rot or damage. Also a few years ago one of the big cedars was lost, leaving the two remaining cedars as fine examples to adorn Wokingham but trees which are likely not to last another fifty years.
The only planned addition has been the Jubilee Oak planted in 2012 as one of 60 Jubilee Oaks planted in the borough to celebrate and commemorate Queen Elizabeth’s 60 Years on the throne.
As St Paul’s looked back over 150 years to the founding of the church, it seems appropriate to look forward another 50-100 years and plan for the succession of the trees that are currently in place. In February2014 one of the rogue cypress trees planted on a grave about 80 years ago, collapsed in the high winds. Without planning our mature trees will not have replacements to take over when they die.
As part of the 2014 celebrations it was hoped to plant new trees to provide trees for the future, however although the project has taken long than supposed, we are still working to deliver the Tree Sucession Project once we have secured appropriate funding. More details on how you can help will be available shortly.
Currently we are carrying out a Biodiversity Survey of the churchyard, to find out what Flora and Fauna live in and around the churchyard.